Most of us don’t think too much about the first impressions we are communicating unless the stakes are high, like a job interview or meeting people you view as important. But, we really should pay more attention every time we meet someone for the first time.
The rapport you can gain by making a good first impression will make the difference as to whether or not you are seen as credible, trustworthy, professional, and competent. It will also save a lot of make-up time later.
And, you don’t have much time at all. Studies done at NYU found that we make eleven major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting. Seven seconds!
Studies have also found that our body language and nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on your first impression than the words you use. So, focus on what you are doing with your body even more than the words you speak!
Lessons from Zoe
It you take it seriously and follow these 5 guidelines, you will be on your way to making good first connections. You can see Zoe here modeling several of these tips!
1. Start with a hand shake. Always give a firm handshake at the beginning of a new interaction – even if it feels unnecessary or awkward. Research shows that starting with a handshake will save you an average of three hours of interaction to build the same kind of rapport.
2. Make eye contact. Look the person straight in the eye, preferably while you’re giving that important handshake. It shows that you are paying attention to them and that you are confident in yourself.
3. Keep your eye level equal. Equalize the power and make a strong connection by talking at eye level. If they are sitting, sit down. If they are standing, stand up. Keep your connect in place by remaining at their eye level.
4. Keep your body position open. Don’t cross your arms, put your hands on your hips, or use any body that is closed. Stand (or sit) up straight and keep your arms and palms open – relaxed and at your side is best. Be careful not to figit. Just relax and enjoy the conversation.
5. Smile. A smile shows interest and that you are friendly and approachable. Don’t fake it – give a genuine, eye wrinkling smile that says “I like you!”
Now, out there and make sure you use your seven seconds to make the best first impression you can.
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation through better communication and is the author of Dancing with Strangers and 52 Communication Tips. Both are available on Amazon.com.