Everyone is familiar with the saying, “A picture speaks a thousand words.” It is very much also the case that first impressions speak a thousand words. As admirable as the appeal is to never judge a book by its cover, we unfortunately do not possess the capability to peer deep into another person’s soul to understand the content of their character. The reality is that we all make very quick judgements based off first impressions.
In fact, Malcolm Gladwell, the eminent author, dedicated a whole book, Blink, to highlight the snap decisions that we make.
One of the most fascinating cases that he covers in the book involves groups of students who are asked to give an evaluation on a teacher. One group gave evaluations after a whole semester in class with the professor; another group watched a one hour video of the professor; one group was shown half an hour video; and the last group was shown merely two seconds—with no sound.
Can you guess the results? The last group that watched merely two seconds of video with absolutely no sound gave the same evaluations as the students that spend a whole semester in class with the professor!
Our snap-judgments and first impressions are pretty impressively accurate. Many psychologists will also note that in job interviews, hiring decisions are subconsciously made within the first few seconds of the meeting. It is clear that making a great first impression is absolutely crucial!
Here are 8 ways you can dominate every first impression.
Dr. Vivian Diller is a psychologist who studies the role of beauty in contemporary culture and has pointed out that, of all human facial features, it is a person’s smile that elicits the most positive and immediate reaction from others. Anytime you are out in public, and particularly if you have a meeting with someone, make sure you have those “pearly whites” ready to flash.
2. Mind Your Body Language
Amy Cuddy, in her Ted Talk titled, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, with over fourteen million views, uncovers the fascinating relationship between our body postures and not only how it influences our own feelings and perceptions, but also how it influences other’s perceptions of us. Stand up straight and walk tall. Not only will you experience the empowering effects, but so will the person you are about to meet.
3. See it and Believe it
The power of visualization has received immense credibility in light of recent developments in the field of Neuropsychology. It has been shown that the brain does not differentiate between an image that is imagined in the mind and what plays out in reality. This explains why so many athletes are coached to mentally rehearse something in their mind before they physically engage in it. Before your meeting, play out a successful meeting in your mind: see yourself as that confident, smiling person that is absolutely and impressively off the charts.
4. Talk To Yourself
Positive self-talk has been around for a long time and has been used and advocated by many successful people in the world. Just like a coach yelling encouragement from the sidelines, we can do the same thing for ourselves. Tell yourself that you are an incredibly confident person with an amazing smile that leaves an incredibly positive impression on everyone that you meet. Come up with your own little mantra and repeat that to yourself before that next important meeting.
5. Talk For Yourself
This is important in group scenarios. Although it is okay to have another person make the initial introduction with your name, it should not go much further than that. That is, when you need to step in and engage in conversations and speak for yourself. A confident person initiates conversation, ask questions, and engages with the person they are talking to—not merely being a bystander and adding sporadic commentary here and there.
6. Dress to Impress
Get out that GQ suit or Valentino dress. Jennifer Baumgartner, a clinical psychologist and author of You Are What You Wear, notes the correlation between your state of mind and your outfit. If you cannot impress yourself with the way you are dressed, then you are not going to feel very impressive. More importantly, the people you meet aren’t going to be very impressed.
7. Everyone Is A Gold Ticket
Your thoughts will become apparent in your attitude and the way you convey yourself. If you think the person you are talking to is just a waste of time, then you will treat them that way. The truth is, we have no idea what anyone has the capability of doing. They personally may not have the ability to open a huge door for us, but their best friend might be the CEO of the company we are dying to work for. Treat everyone as though they have the potential to change your destiny.
8. The “Elevator Pitch”
What if you only had 30 seconds to convince someone not to kill you? Hopefully, you will never ever have to be in that situation, though it definitely is a great way for you to think about how to put together a great introduction for yourself. An important point when meeting with new people is not to dominate the conversation. Have your introduction succinct enough to give a little snippet into who you are, but be sure to ask them to share about them. Make the other person feel important by being interested in them, and you will be surprised at how interested they become in you.
You will most likely meet a new person today, whether at the grocery store check-out, catching a bus, a new client at work, or that big interview. Make sure you walk through all 8 of these steps and you will no doubt leave them with a great first impression that will last!