HOW TO MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION
First of all, let’s talk about why the first impression is important.
When we’re meeting someone new, most of the time the other person doesn’t know anything about us and even if they do, for example during a job interview, they don’t know what we’re like as a person.
In the first few seconds of our interaction, without us being even aware of it, our mind takes in and evaluates all it can from the body language and appearance of the other person. It’s trying to assess whether to trust them, like them, whether they are healthy, where they fit on the social hierarchy, simply whether it would be beneficial or harmful to further engage with them and if so, how.
So if you don’t pay attention to how you’re coming across in the first few seconds of your interaction with other people, there is a good chance you will miscommunicate important information about yourself which could undermine the first impression you make and affect further communication.
In this article, I want to share with you the key factors that affect the first impression you make, and how to make the most of the first few seconds opportunity.
The first thing you need to pay attention to is…
As a coach, I always paid attention to people’s handshake because I believe it can say a lot about their self-confidence character.
There are three main categories of handshakes.
The dead fish
It’s when someone gives you a soft, sometimes even sloppy or lousy handshake. It’s a bit more common amongst women usually as a byproduct of wanting to come across more gentle and feminine.
The challenge with this handshake is that that it can come across as not genuine or even that the person doesn’t want to touch you as it offers almost minimal contact.
If this is a handshake you use, add a little bit more grip to it.
The best amount of squeeze is about as much as when you hold a sponge when you shower. Just enough for it to not slip out of your hand, but not too much so that all you’d be washing yourself with your fist.
The hand crusher
This is the other extreme when someone is squeezing way too hard.
This one is more common amongst men, often misused as a sign of power and dominance, where in fact it comes across insecure and uncalibrated.
On top of that, you may actually hurt someone especially if they had a wrist injury or suffer from arthritis (they don’t have to be old).
Same as with the dead fish handshake, use the right amount of pressure.
5% of the population suffers from hyperhidrosis a.k.a. Sweaty palms. I’m one of them. If you are one of us, then your palms are always moist and can go to the extreme of wet.
It’s a really unpleasant experience for someone to shake your hand just to feel all that moisture of your palm.
While there are sprays or even surgeries you can use, the fastest short term solution is to wash your hands with soap and warm water just before meeting someone. It will degrease your palm and the soap tends to keep them dry for some time. Pop in the bathroom and wash your hands.
The right handshake will make you look confident, honest, genuine, and sincere.
2. Acknowledge the other person
Another part of a great first impression is to fully acknowledge the other person or the people you are meeting.
I often see people merely glancing at the person they meet or shake their hand with. This may make you come across as insincere and insecure.
By proper eye contact, I don’t mean stare at them for 30 seconds.
Just a focused eye contact for a few seconds while you may be saying “Hi John, great to meet you, I’ve been looking forward to this?
If you’re in a situation, like an interview, where there are more people, take a moment and acknowledge them all by eye contact maybe with “Hi, thank you for inviting me.”
It’s a small effort that can make a big difference.
A smile is a very important part of our nonverbal communication because it says, hey I’m friendly, I’m comfortable, I’m happy to see you, I’m not a threat.
These are all good things to communicate.
It makes people like you and trust you.
When I say smile, I mean gentle and genuine smile.
Don’t grin like a chimpanzee, that just scares people away. Haha.
Practice smiling and smiling at people. It’s a skill that will always pay off.
3. THE TONE OF YOUR VOICE
Many people have a bad habit of speaking quietly, in an almost breathy or whispery voice, with no passion and energy.
This comes across as lack of confidence and interest and uncertain.
That’s not the best way to make a great impression.
Don’t be afraid to use your voice fully, in its natural richness and resonance.
If you tend to speak quietly, pay attention to how other people around you speak (in that situation) and match your voice to that volume.
If you notice people leaning forward or turning their ear towards you when you speak, then that’s definitely a sign that you’re speaking too quietly.
4. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
You’re probably meeting people in different situations. Each of these settings has certain etiquette or expectation about what the appropriate dress code is.
My recommendation is to always overdress slightly by 10-20%.
It’s always better to be the best-dressed person in the room than the worst dressed person in the room.
It’s really uncomfortable to be in a social situation where everyone else is dressed better than you. I’ve been there a few times and learned the hard way.
Do your research if you’re not sure how to dress. You can find a lot of recommendation out there. But if you’re in doubt, always overdress slightly.
5.Hygiene and grooming
I cannot believe I have to even talk about this, but it’s clearly not everyone is paying attention or is aware of it as much as they should.
This is particularly addressed to men because ladies tend to take good care of their nails. Gents, always, always have short and clean nails.
If you go on a date, meeting, or a job interview, having gross dirty nails can easily be one of the reasons why you will not be invited again.
Everything about you is an extension of your personality, standards and habits, and dirty nails are not sending the best signals.
The truth is, we don’t always smell ourselves because it’s our smell and we’re used to it. So always, ALWAYS, use deodorants. Use it after every showering, and if you’re active or sweat a lot, use it several times a day.
Use cologne, there is an endless choice of amazing perfumes out there.
By the way, the purpose of a perfume is to enhance you smelling good, not to override a bad body odour, also know as ‘the gipsy shower.’
Always wear clean clothes.
My tip for you is, never wear the first layer of your clothes twice without washing them ( with the exception of trousers). Use fabric conditioners when you’re washing your clothes.
Always smell great.
It’s so much better experience when you meet someone and they smell pleasant.
On the contrary, if you meet someone and they smell of sweat, damp clothes, cigarets, food, it’s really off-putting.
Finally, make sure your hair and facial hair always looks stylish and intentional. Use products to make it look great. It’s a small effort that will bring a lot of gains. Always show that you take pride in your appearance.
Let me know in the comment which one of these do you encounter most often.
If you need the support of a life coach to help you with making a great first impression or with any other areas of your personal development, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match.
BOOK YOUR FREE Discovery session
In this initial Discovery Session, we’ll discuss what your goals are, changes you want to make, what’s standing in the way, and how I could help you with it. It’s time for us to determine if we’re the right match. If so, we can discuss the next steps. There’s no hard-sell.
This is great! I’m glad you included grooming and personal hygiene. It’s very distracting if someone ( especially a man) shakes my hand with long dirt finger nails. All I can think about it how to get away as quickly as possible and it might be completely u reasonable.