There is no arguing that first impressions are critical. This is especially so when all you have is one go at a life changing opportunity.
So let’s take a quick look at some dos and don’ts for getting it right...
|Be on time||Chew anything (unless you’re at a lunch meeting!)|
|Relax||Look frequently at your watch|
|Keep your mobile phone switched off||Invade personal space|
|Dress and look clean, tidy and appropriate||Use risky humour|
|Smile, and be open and confident||Interrupt the other person|
|Be positive||Forget consistency in eye contact|
Right...now that we know how to make a first impression, I’d like to trigger another line of thought – do we need to bother with first impressions when we’ll have several opportunities and ways of demonstrating and proving our capability and worth?
Are first impressions lasting impressions? Or can they change with consecutive interactions?
Well, the answer is yes and no...
Emerging international research shows there is more than a literal truth to the saying that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Experts have discovered that new experiences that contradict a first impression become “bound” to the context in which they were made, whereas first impressions still dominate in other contexts.
For example, imagine you meet someone in a formal setting, and your impression of this individual is not so favourable. A few weeks later, you meet this same individual at a party, and come away with the impression that this person is very nice.
Although you know your first impression was wrong, your gut response to this person will be influenced by your new ‘nice’ conclusion only in contexts that are similar to the party. In all other contexts, your initial negative impression will continue to dominate!
Scary, but hey, let’s not doubt the experts.
So, no matter how many times you are likely to meet people, the first impression IS a lasting impression. So it's worth giving each new encounter your best shot. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good, but great.
Catch you next time with the last in this series - Certain Something – Part Five: Building Rapport.