First impressions count

August 25th, 2017

Written by Katy Winship

According to experts it takes people an average of seven seconds for someone to form an impression of you.

If you don’t believe it think about when you have met someone and when you ‘review’ them with others. Someone asks “so, what were they like?” and you respond “Yeah, really nice- they were X, Y or Z.” (It’s up to you to decide whether you indeed are X, Y or Z.)

Even people you’ve known for years you probably remember what you thought of them when you first met? You might not have liked them or you might have been made to feel very welcomed or charmed or maybe you felt the opposite and you felt they were rude or you were even creeped out by them. It’s hard to shake an initial first encounter of a person unless you were either a. drunk or b. a child when the first encounter took place.

Making the right impression

There are two types of people – those that make good first impressions and those that don’t. Regardless of if it’s intentional or not there’s no doubt about it- some people just don’t come across well upon their first meeting.

Think about a job interview- you only get one chance to make a good first impression. If you usually struggle or people often tell you they didn’t like you at first then think- what are you doing wrong?You might not even realise that you are doing something wrong, so here are my tips on creating a good first impression:

Consider everything

Walk into a restaurant and you might get a great impression of the place but it can be let down by the state of the restrooms. Dust and smell are simply no-nos. If you’re hosting and what to make good impressions then look at everything as if you were for the first time and ask yourself how it looks? What would you think? The How to be Good hostess guidebook from the 1950’s declares that a house ‘should literally shine out a welcome to your guests’. Gleaming floors and furniture, winking-bright windows and laundry-fresh curtains are all necessary to create a good impression on guests.

Now, this might sound a bit far-fetched but these are things you might not have considered and should be applied to business- for example if your office looks immaculate and there is an important contract hanging in the balance a shiny office could just well sway the decision makers and give them confidence in your business. A business that takes pride in things that seem minor will be thorough with other small details surely?

If you invite people that you are trying to impress to your home or office then cleanliness (and tidiness) is key. After all, you more than likely want them to come back!

Eye contact

I used to struggle with eye-contact as a youth. It’s only when I got older that I started to look people in the eye and be more confident in what I had to say. What I learnt from that is that people listen to you more when you make eye-contact.I have done a bit of research on the importance of this- basically, yep it is important.

Here’s how you should practice eye-contact: to avoid looking psychotic break your eye contact. Definitely don’t stare- look away every five seconds or so. You can look at a different eye then change focus to the other then maybe, if you’re listening, look down to their mouth briefly. Nod whilst doing this. And make interested noises.

Body Language

When you are speaking to somebody you should point your whole body in their direction- it shows that you are invested and interested in what they have to say. To build up confidence in the relationship mirror the actions of the person you are talking to – it sounds bizarre but it sends reassuring signals that the friendship/ relationship is a positive one and you’re both invested in making a connection.

A firm handshake

A quick poll around the office has found that the general consensus is that there is nothing worse than a limp handshake. When meeting new people it’s hard not to judge someone (and sorry guys but it applies to men more) and think they’re a bit of a wet lettuce if they have a limp handshake. Just as off putting are sweaty palms or too tight a grip.

According to scientists in Manchester there is a perfect formula for a winning handshake. Handshakes should last no longer than 3 seconds, should be firm but not too firm, eye contact and a mutual distance should be kept and should be approximately three shakes.

Clothing and appearance

We all know about dressing for the occasion, even in the most casual of situations (say an interview at a young funky company) dress smartly if you want to make the right impression.

If you attend anything that is a formal attire situation in your scruffs you’ll come across as if you don’t have any respect, if you overdress for an informal situation you’ll get people talking so it’s a balancing act and having some awareness about you.

Good manners

A bit of an obvious one but people notice when good manners are in place. Simple things such as saying please and thank you, holding doors open, offering drinks and food to guests and introducing people to others (perhaps alongside a little ice-breaker about them) are all easy-to-do and won’t go unnoticed.

Bad manners that really irritate people are: inappropriate and rude topics of conversation, lack of conversation and response, excessive checking of mobile phones and talking over others.

Top tips.

• Put your phone on silent/ don’t play with it.• Do not fold your arms.
• Pay compliments but don’t be false.
• Send smiling signals.
• Eye contact is important.
• Be friendly and be interested.
• Small talk goes a long way.
• Accept a drink if offered.
• Avoid swearing.
• Do not invade personal space.