‘It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanour, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.’
The quote from an article posted on the MindTools site makes for interesting reading, doesn’t it?
The way we look will create and make an impression. Before you even speak you are making an impression. What kind of impression do you feel that you make? What kind of impression would you like to make?
In this article let’s review how we are psychologically programmed to read other people and how you can use development tips to create a great first impression.
4 Facial Cues
Psychologist Leslie Zebrowitz of Brandeis University studies the facial information we use to judge other people. ‘Although first impressions are notoriously prone to error, we just can’t stop ourselves from making them — and it only takes a tenth of a second to form a judgment about another person’s character, even from a still photograph.’
In an article for Psychology Today by David Ludden Ph.D. he discusses the 4 facial cues we as people use when judging and creating an impression of others. Rightly or wrongly we use these cues that are ingrained within us as an instinct. Something which is called evolved mechanism.
Although often quite accurately judged we can also get it very wrong. Our natural inclinations have a perquisite for instant impression forming which is based on evolved mechanism.
Using both our instinct and our morals to guide us allows for a more tuned and better developed impression.
This is the first of the cues. We as human beings are wired to like baby faces for obvious reasons of fertility and we associate this with youth.
We also will assume the facial appearance of someone’s face as kind with these features but can also view them as weak and can treat them as if they may need more care. Just like you would with a baby.
We tend to like people who look like people we know. We do this in how we facially process recognition. Quite often this can be a vague recollection that someone looks familiar and it is with this we make our impression.
This can mean that we can swing in a negative and positive manner dependent on how we view the person we associate the familiarity with.
For example, people of the same family, race and ethnicity we view as familiar and therefore judge accordingly.
Faces that show symmetry and proper proportion we tend to find attractive. This is to do with how we view genetic diversity.
Genetic diseases mean for a weak immune system versus symmetry and proportion suggests a strong immune system which can fight off disease is therefore seen as more attractive.
We view healthy looking people as attractive, more friendly, bright and capable. The way we think about others is evolutionary and intuitive.
We can effectively and intuitively read the expression of others. Our inherent instincts can make us view the look of someone’s face in a good or bad light.
Zebrowitz states, ‘The intuitions that guide our social interactions are largely innate, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless to overcome them. If we understand how our intuitions work, we can avoid pitfalls and guide them to our advantage. This means skilfully manipulating our own facial features to make the right first impression in others, while guarding ourselves against intuitive judgments that may lead us astray.’
So how can you use development tips to create a good first impression?
Since we have looked at the science behind why we and others naturally make judgements we can now look at how you can use your innate instincts accompanied by these next tools to create the impression you want to make.
Arrive on time
If you are meeting someone for the first time no one will appreciate it if you arrive late. Tardiness can show that you do not value the other persons time. Arriving on time or even early is a good step in creating a great first impression.
Be authentically you
We can all get a little nervous when meeting someone you haven’t met before or even if you have met them before you can still feel anxious. Whilst these feelings are perfectly natural and normal you want to exude confidence and appear calm.
You can be authentically you too. Whilst wanting to be confident and calm ensure you allow your personality to shine through. This can help in relaxing the other person and creates a good impression.
Dress for the occasion
No one will expect you to wear a ball gown for a business meeting unless of course you are attending a ball. That being said the way you dress will create an impression of how the other person you are meeting sees you.
You have to remember that If they do not know you this is all they will have to go on. Of course style and dress can vary between cultures and countries. Dress for the country you are in and pay attention to the normalities of the culture and if there are particular traditions you need to adhere to.
When you meet and greet ensure you smile. It goes a long way in suggesting you are warm and friendly. Mimic body language and add appropriate expression throughout your conversation.
Confident body language always helps to make a good and lasting first impression. Emulate the other person’s body language throughout and always ensure you offer good eye contact, responses to show effective listening, appropriate reactions and a firm handshake.
Be prepared and build rapport
Always before any meeting be sure that you are prepared. Know what you plan to ask and need to find out. Ensure you have clear objectives for your meeting.
As well as all the planned informal questions don’t forget that carving a strong and good first impression will also mean building rapport. Plan for small talk. Get to know the person you are meeting.
Remember to remember the small details for future meetings. This helps you to create a lasting impression and develop strength in your relationship.
Manners cost nothing
Having impeccable manners and being polite will always go a long way. We live in an age where it can feel that these are a dying art. People remember when you’ve been attentive. You stand out.
‘You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. 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.’ MindTools blog.
Using facial cues, social morals, a good dose of common sense is sure to help you make an impression that is positive and remembered. Making that all important first impression can be daunting and at times may seem impossible.
What impression do you feel you make?
Hopefully my 7 top development tips in creating a great first impression will aid you in creating an impression to be proud of. If however you feel that you fall short and can’t figure out where you are making your mistakes why not get in touch.
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