They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression…how true is that? This idea has been on my mind a lot recently – I’ve been conducting interviews and meeting candidates at work, I had an interview of my own last week…and I meet a lot of people in my day to day life. I try to make a positive first impression – but sadly I’m not always successful. I believe I may turn some people away with my chattiness, my extreme friendliness, and my general eccentricity…also, I’m pretty upbeat and positive, which a lot of folks misinterpret as being fake or caused by narcotics and street drugs. However, I generally try to approach the world with a smile and a warm heart…I believe there’s not enough of that, so I’m doing my part to remedy that situation. 🙂
I wish more people were concerned with making a good first impression…it sadly seems that a lot of people have quit trying altogether. Recently, we had a candidate show up for an interview – in jeans. Now, I can be pretty casual myself, but that’s nuts, don’t you think? A friend of mine from work was telling me recently about a man she met online (she’s been giving the match.com thing a whirl) – before she had even met him in person (they were in the process of texting back and forth to set up a first date), he flipped out at her, accused her of ‘barking’ and not making him a priority. WTF is that, friends? When did it become okay to basically act like an arse, as if you own someone, before you’ve even met them! That’s crazy!! I’m not terribly enamored with the idea of ownership that seems to be popping up all over the place anyway – I’m sure you know what I mean…that whole “I own you, you’re my woman, you serve at my pleasure and must indulge my every whim” bullshit – so gross. It’s kind of like those women who are so jealous and over-the-top when it comes to their man that they practically piss on him to mark their territory, and any other women who walks by is under threat of having her eyes scratched out. I just don’t get that behavior. Personally, I’m all about being with someone because I choose to be…and I only want people around me who are there because they choose to be. I remember meeting a coworker’s wife a number of years ago, and the wretched look that she gave me when we were introduced…not even bothering to be polite. I wanted so badly to tell her at the time that she needed to chill the hell out because batshit behavior like that would surely chase her lovely husband away…but she was SUCH a bitch to me that I thought it better to say nothing. I would never want a man to stay with me because I intimidated him into it – that’s disgusting. I am such a believer in the idea of choice, and making choices about the things that I want to do, and the people I choose to spend my time with. I used to be so easily influenced by others, and people could talk me in to just about anything (case in point – my friend from home who used 12 year old powers of persuasion and manipulation to get me to eat Tender Vittles and rhubarb straight out of the ground – so gross)…but thankfully that is not the case anymore. I refuse to allow myself to be talked into anything – and, truth be told, I pity the fool that even tries. While I still feel badly when I have to say no and disappoint people, I get over it pretty quickly and move on. I just can’t shake the thought that life is simply too fleeting to waste time on things you don’t want to do….don’t you? 🙂
Back to first impressions! What things do you try to do to put your best self forward? I will admit to having tried far too hard in this department over the years…I used to work so hard at presenting the persona that I thought people wanted to meet. For example, if I was meeting people in the Education industry, I would arrive in Straight-Up Nerd Mode, armed with statistics and facts on socially stimulating topics like brain research, multiple intelligences, and hybrid classrooms. It’s really no wonder that my social life sucked for so long – who would want to be around that egghead jackass? I was even worse with men – if I met someone who was into craft beers, I became an authority on craft beers. If the dude was in to lawn darts and farting contests, what a coincidence, so was I!!! (okay, maybe now that last one, but you get my drift) I’m embarrassed when I think about this now – why did I have to become such a sponge to the people around me, rather than letting them become enchanted by the awesome person that I am??! Whatever…I can’t go back and change the past, I know – and thankfully I have outgrown this. While I still care about making a positive first impression, I devote my efforts now to simply being MYSELF. I don’t pretend to be cool (’cause goodness knows I ain’t got that going on!), I don’t pretend to be into something I haven’t a hot clue about. Instead, I act like myself – goofy, silly, adorkable me. 🙂 If that’s good enough for people, then woohoo!! If not – they can go to hell. Fine by me.
I read an article from Forbes magazine about making a positive first impression – here’s their tips:
Most people will judge you within the first second of meeting you and their opinion will most likely never change. Making a good first impression is incredibly important, because you only get one shot at it.
Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and co-author Janine Willis, a student researcher who graduated from Princeton in 2005 had people look at a microsecond of video of a political candidate. Amazingly, research subjects could predict with 70-percent accuracy who would win the election just from that microsecond of tape. This tells us that people can make incredibly accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.
How can you ensure people are judging you accurately and also seeing your best side? You never want to give people an inauthentic impression — many people can intuitively feel if someone is being fake immediately. However, any time you meet someone for the first time, you always want to start on the right foot.
Here are a few ways you can make sure people’s first impression of you is a good one:
1. Set an intention. The most important thing to do for giving a good impression is to set your intention. This is especially important before any kind of big event where you would be meeting a lot of people — i.e. conferences, networking events or friend’s parties. As you get ready or when you are driving over think about what kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have. This can be an incredibly grounding experience and works very well to focus on what kind of energy you want to have for your event.
2. Think about your ornaments. Clothes, make-up, jewelry, watches and shoes are all types of ornamentation and people definitely take these into account when making initial judgments. I highly recommend getting some of your favorite outfits or ornaments together and asking friends you trust what they think of when they see them. For many men, they do not realize that their watch can say a lot about them. For women, purses and large earrings or jewelry can also indicate a lot to a new person they are meeting. Make sure that what you are wearing and how you do your hair or make-up says what you want it to say to the people you are meeting for the first time.
3. Be Conscious of Your Body Language. Body language is a crucial part of first impressions. Everything from your posture to how you carry yourself to the way you’re angling your body. Often, simply being aware of your body language can result in immediate improvements. Another way to examine your body language is to look at yourself on a video walking around a room. Subconscious cues to keep in mind include noticing where you point your feet, the position of your shoulders, and the way you shake hands.
4. Avoid bad days. People who go to cocktail events or mixers after having had a bad day typically continue to have a bad day. If you are in a depressed or anxious mood, others will pick up on this from your facial expressions, comments and body language. If you’re having a bad day, stay home! Otherwise, find a way to snap yourself out of your bad mood. I find working out or watching funny YouTube videos before events often gets me in a more social, feel good mood.
5. Be interested and interesting. If you are truly interested in meeting people and are open to learning about who they are, they will get this in a first impression. We have all had the experience of meeting someone and knowing instantly that they were dragged here by a friend and are just waiting to get out the door and head home. When you are meeting people for the first time approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. This is often contagious and you will have better conversations and lasting connections when you are interested because they become interested.
Of all of these, I think (hope) that I am the best at #5 – I genuinely love to meet new people, and I find them endlessly interesting. I love asking about the lives of others, and am always captivated by their responses. I believe that my interest comes across as genuine – I hope it does! 😉 As for whether or not I’m interesting…I just don’t know. I have heard that I am from others, but truth be told, they are probably just being kind. I’ve certainly had an interesting, unusual life, and I have a wide variety of life experiences that can be used to spice up pretty much any conversation. The key is that I am genuine – I don’t believe that I am a fakey-pants at all…I certainly hope not, as I loathe those people. I can think of dozens of people that I know through work, social circles, life in general who are just so bloody fake that being in their company for more than ten minutes leaves me wanting to punch them in the face…and I’m not a violent person. I think that people should just be what they are, be who they are, and own it – Just. Be. Real. Real People = The Best People…don’t you think? 😉
I can’t wait to hear what you think about the power of making a positive first impression, friends – and, if you happen to remember meeting me in real life, send me a note and tell me how I did in regards to the first impression with you!!!! 🙂 I’ll be waiting…. 😉