First impressions count.
It takes less than a minute to make a great first impression and 20 positive subsequent
impressions to correct a bad one. Even if they're wrong, people really believe
their first judgments and that ends up influencing the way we relate, listen and
communicate with others.
But let's look at first
impressions in a more audacious way. If you're a movie buff, you know that the
moment the character walks onto the screen, you're reacting. You're taking everything
in - the way the character walks, the clothes she wears, the way she smiles or
grimaces - and making a decision before the character says a word. To get a film
moving, the director and the writer use shorthand messages so the audience can
relate to the character almost immediately. The costume designer, the lighting
designer, the wig maker, the makeup artist all work together to control your perceptions
so that it takes less than a 60 seconds to understand the character's importance
to the unfolding plot.
Well, guess what? It's
the same thing for you and me. We're starring in our own movie. We're writing
the script, directing the action, selecting the costumes, applying the makeup
and going out there and creating plots, subplots, dramas, comedies. As the leading
character in your film, you have the power to control the perceptions of others.
By presenting yourself as self-confident, stylish and emboldened with ideas, you
are creating a "short hand" message to your accomplishments and attributes.
With less than a minute
to be effective, how can we make that initial encounter positive?
- Smile. Smiles establish
instant rapport and openness.
- Stand up straight. You
have to be confident to have good posture.
- Initiate a handshake standing
up, looking into the other person's eyes long enough to determine their eye color.
- Your first comment should
be about the person you're meeting. Say something positive about them. Be sincere.
If you're meeting with a superior, be sure to acknowledge the firm you're working
- Try to stand at an angle
leaving enough physical space between you and the speaker.
- Match the speed of the
other person's conversation style. If they're a slow talker, talk slower; if they're
a fast talker, pick up the speed. By matching your partner's speaking style, you'll
indicate you're on their wave length.
- Listen more, talk less.
Remember that the best conversationalists are the listeners, not the talkers.