There is an evolutionary reason why we all make snap judgments. Our primitive ancestors needed to size up a situation quickly and decide if they were faced with a friend or a foe and we still use that ability today.
Within the first few seconds of any new encounter, we are evaluated from head to toe. Those who meet us for the first time will observe our appearance, mannerisms and body language and even assess the quality of our accessories, our watch, jewelery, shoes and more.
During those few seconds we all make an indelible and irreversible impression – we will please some individuals and disappoint others. We can improve our odds of pleasing those that we meet by paying attention to:
Are you open to meeting new people? Do you make eye contact with others? Is your body stance open or closed? Proper posture is great for your back, your digestion and your breathing. Your shoulders should be up and back, arms at your side and your head up for good eye contact.
If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that is a sure way to create the wrong impression. Whether you are on a first date or meeting new colleagues in a new job, try to remain calm and confident. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease.
Ill-fitting, crumpled clothes will make you look sloppy. Whether you bought your clothes in Karama or the flashiest designer store, keep them freshly laundered and pressed and you will look and feel great. If you are in the corporate world, pay attention to details such as your choice of watch, shoes, bag, belt, jewelery and even eyeglasses. Be tidy and, whether you choose a contemporary or classic look, be consistent in your style.
Hair, nails and skin should look fresh and clean. If you are a woman, save the bare-faced look for home. If you are keen on making a good first impression, for example at a job interview, a little make-up such as a touch of gloss and mascara will make a lot of difference. Pay attention to your personal hygiene – brush, floss, shower daily and wear an antiperspirant deodorant so that you smell fresh all day.
To make a good first impression you do need to ‘fit in’ to some degree, especially in a job interview situation. However, you can create a good impression without total conformity or losing your individuality, though it is important to be appropriate for the situation. If you are in a corporate setting, wear appropriate business attire; if you are at an informal company picnic, wear suitable casual clothing and express your individuality appropriately within that context.
You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it is almost impossible to reverse, so it is worth giving each hew encounter your best shot. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression involves common sense. However, with a little extra thought and preparation, you can polish your style and make every first impression not just good, but great.