Did you know that you only have seven seconds to make a first impression on someone? A first impression is more important than you may realize, and you only have a short window of opportunity to make it.
But a strong first impression isn’t out of your reach. With mindful planning, you can make a better impression wherever you go. Here are three ways to do just that.
Focus on your outward appearance
Although you hope people will look past your outward appearance to your brilliant mind and creativity, it’s not always true. In a study from Allure that surveyed 2,500 people, 80 percent of them admitted they judge people at first glance based on their looks. If you’re looking for a way to improve the first impression that others have of you, your appearance is a great place to start. Some things to work on include:
Your clothing: Buy some new dresses or suits which look professional and flattering to your figure. You may also consider tailoring your existing clothes so that each item looks more professional and well-cut.
Your hair: Both men and women everywhere can benefit from a more professional haircut, including well-groomed facial hair for men. Your hair can match current trends, but it should look neat.
Your hygiene: While sight is the most dominant sense, smell is the second. If you fail to shower daily, people will notice, and it can significantly impact their impression of you.
Your body language: Your body language has the ability to communicate up to four times more to a person than what you actually say. Your smile, handshake, posture, facial expressions, and other factors will convey that first impression.
Your smile: Nearly 50 percent of people say that a smile is what they remember most when meeting someone. Work on making yours clean and friendly to imprint a better personal image.
Update your personal belongings
First impressions go beyond personal appearance — they also extend to your belongings. Everything you own is a reflection of you, so focus on appearances in this respect as well. The car you drive, for example, can suggest whether or not you’re successful at your job. It’s harder to put confidence in a dentist who drives a 1990 Honda Civic, even if they’re skilled at their job. While you don’t need the newest vehicle to make a good impression, an updated model can be useful for creating a positive image for yourself.
You might also make repairs to your home just in case you invite your boss or coworkers over. You don’t want peeling paint to take away from the newly installed custom-made plantation shutters or well-landscaped yard. Consider every aspect of your home’s appearance and how it pertains to your professional image.
Enhance your introduction
Since you only have seven seconds to make a good first impression, let your introductions be well-practiced and a positive reflection of who you are. This is your chance to avoid being judged entirely on your appearance. What you say in those seven seconds can make a big difference.
Your introduction does not have to be extravagant. It may be as simple as making eye contact, firmly shaking a person’s hand, and saying “It’s great to meet you”. Use this opportunity to memorize the person’s name. People love it when you say and remember their name, so after they introduce themselves, say, “It’s great to meet you, [insert name].” This will help to reinforce that person’s name in your mind and increase your likability, all within just a few seconds.
You don’t have long to make a great first impression, so it’s important to plan ahead. You don’t always know when you’re going to meet someone new and influential. Decide what you’re going to say now and work on your appearance so that you leave a positive impression at a moment’s notice.