First impressions count, especially in the world of work and business. To be oblivious to this fact is to potentially harm one’s future prospects. You will be meeting many people on a daily basis who could become partners, allies and friends who will help take you to a new level. Jot down a few notes that will help next time you have the jitters right before an important meeting or event.
As simple as it sounds, your smile is the most unique thing you have. It has a way of breaking the ice, creating an atmosphere for open communication and making the receiver of the smile feel welcome. Paul Ekman (the world’s leading expert on facial expressions) discovered that smiles are cross-cultural and have the same meaning in different societies. Two studies from 2002 and 2011 at Uppsala University in Sweden confirmed that other people’s smiles suppress the control we usually have over our facial muscles, compelling us to smile. They also showed that it’s very difficult to frown when looking at someone who smiles. This can be proven by the fact that children smile around 400 times daily. You can agree with the ripple effect it has if you’ve been around a child. So what better way to leave a lasting first impression than with your golden?
Sometimes people aren’t confident in who they are, so they create this façade that they take out with them when meeting people they don’t know. The best first impression you can leave someone with is who you really are. Of course, we all have multiple aspects to our personalities however, if you’re an introvert don’t pretend to be an extrovert just to impress people. You can be an introvert with excellent communication skills and an extrovert who doesn’t talk everyone’s ear off. Just be a well composed but not pretentious version of yourself. Be professional, but also be down to earth enough to connect.
Work on you
Riding off of the last point, work on your communication skills. Ensure you have an impressive handshake you speak audibly, your vocabulary is broad but not intimidating, and you’re able to relate with people from diverse backgrounds. Be up to date with current affairs so you have something to pitch into general small talk. Work on your listening skills and your mannerisms as these matter a lot in initial encounters too.
First impressions don’t always go according to plan and sometimes when you’ve left a negative impression, you’re lucky enough to get a second chance to change it. There will also be some people that you’ll never get along with, but the above tips will ensure you can at least coexist civilly. Meeting people can be a really exciting experience where you’ll learn a lot about other people and greatest of all, about yourself. Embrace it, learn from it and enjoy it.