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Creating a Better Impression

Creating a Better Impression
Introduce Yourself

    Sometimes I think I’m the shyest person on the planet. Back in the days when I was interviewing for jobs, I had a sad tendency to work myself into a tizzy about whether I was going to make a good impression. Over the years, I’ve done my best to calm down about introductions, by focusing on what I can do to improve my odds. I’ve found that thinking about what I can do can at least distract me from the worries I might have about a situation.

    Be Human

    Even if a person isn’t shy, a first meeting can be stiff. It can be hard to come up with conversation. It is important, though, to make the effort to relax in these situations. Whether or not you want to worry about impressing your new friend or client, doing it during a conversation makes it even harder to talk. You’ll either make that good impression, or not. Don’t worry about it during the process — that’s what before and after are for.

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    Relaxing just a bit can be enough to make you look sure of yourself, as well. It can help you firm up that handshake, which can be the first part of a first impression. If you’re really experiencing some difficulties with being comfortable speaking to people who are essentially strangers, though, the best recommendation I’ve had is to work on my public speaking in general. Groups like Toastmasters can provide a lot of help in improving speaking abilities, as well as just getting people more comfortable with talking in general.

    Think Ahead

    Any pre-planned introduction is a chance for you to make the best possible introduction. It’s also a chance for you to associate yourself with certain ideas. Consider job interviews. For most of the interviews I’ve had, it’s been the first time I’ve met somebody from a particular company. I go in, knowing that I want my interviewer to leave our meeting thinking I’m the best person for the job. So, I make a list of reasons I really am the best person for the job. I take the time to discuss them. If, for instance, I want to show that I have a particular skill, I’ll mention specifics of projects that I’ve worked on, using that skill. I take full advantage of the time I have to plan ahead for a meeting.

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    Create Connections

    If you know that you’ll be meeting someone new ahead of time — whether attending meetings or going on a blind date — try thinking of some connections you might have with that person ahead of time. It might be obvious: “Our mutual pal Sarah set us up tonight.” You may have to dig a little deeper, though. Once you’ve got it, though, you already have an automatic conversation ready to go just by asking questions about the connection: “How long have you known Sarah? Let me tell you about how she and I met!”

    Even tangential connections, like rooting for the same local sports team, can give you an edge up in an introduction. Rather than being John Doe who I met at the same party I met fifty other people at, you can be John Doe who I’m going to have to educate about why my team is so much better. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can be enough to guarantee that a person is going to want to rekindle the conversation down the road.

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    Dress the Part

    It would be nice if we all went around fresh out of the shower and perfectly dressed. It’s never going to happen, but it would be nice. There’s always the chance that you’ll have a chance meeting in that t-shirt you painted the living room in. That’s just life. However, we do what we can to minimize those situations.

    I’ve tried to eliminate some of those really awful outfits out of my closet — the stuff with unmendable wholes and such. I’ve even managed to mostly make it past the college mentality that it’s okay to wear my pajamas out and about. I’m not saying that we should all throw out those old, beat-up, comfortable clothes — I’m just saying that it’s probably best not to where them while running errands or going out for coffee. Leave the pajamas at home.

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    Follow Up

    That great first impression won’t mean anything if you never get the opportunity to make a second impression. It’s up to you to keep in contact, whether you had an interview or just met a person casually. Some situations may be ideal for a thank you note after the fact — but if a thank you note is too formal an email or phone call can work just fine. Make a point of being specific in your follow up: answer questions you may not have been able to respond to during your initial meeting, make a recommendation based on your discussion, or otherwise refer back to your meeting.

    In Conclusion

    Lastly, I’m of the opinion that making a good impression is far more important than making the best impression. While there’s a chance that a person will remember all the great first impressions he’s had over the years, there is an absolute guarantee that he will remember the worst impressions he’s seen. People don’t tell stories about nice people they meet at parties, after all: they start with “You’ll never believe the weirdo I met last week,” and go downhill from there. A lot of risks you might consider for making a lasting impression can easily backfire, so consider carefully if you need to be that far beyond the rest of the pack.

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

    Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

    You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

    This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

    What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

    Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

    There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

    How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

    When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

    Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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    1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

    One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

    The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

    Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

    2. Be Honest

    A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

    If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

    On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

    Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

    3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

    Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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    If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

    4. Succeed at Something

    When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

    Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

    5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

    Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

    Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

    If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

    If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

    Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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    6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

    Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

    You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

    On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

    You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

    7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

    Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

    Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

    Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

    When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

    Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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    In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

    Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

    It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

    Final Thoughts

    When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

    The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

    Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

    Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

    Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

    More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

    Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
    [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
    [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
    [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
    [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
    [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
    [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
    [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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