As they say. You only get one chance to make a great first impression. First impressions matter so much because they happen fast. We make decisions on people quickly and once that impression is formed, it's very hard to change it. Researchers say we make our first initial impressions of people within the first 7 seconds of meeting them. The first 7 seconds!
Simply put, your relationships with people and interactions will be a lot easier if you immediately starting off strong. Meaning. 9 times out of 10, this strong start will give you the benefit of the doubt. So, in the event that you ever say the wrong thing or make a mistake such as arriving late to work, the other person is more likely to assume the best.
A strong first impression gives you the leeway to be human. Here are four key strategies to help ensure others see the best of you from the beginning.
1. Look the Part
When in doubt always overdress. Actually, scratch that. Never "when" in doubt. Always attempt to be the best-dressed man in the room. Whether that is in a personal setting or professional. Being well dressed will not only give you more confidence. But will also leave a visual memorable impression on people. There are a few great reasons to dress well.
Reason #1 – Men Who Dress Well Are Perceived As Leaders: Studies have shown that people are going to immediately assign a bit more authority to you when you dress sharp. Stepping up your style will place you in the realm of men who are automatically perceived as leaders. More importantly – you will take yourself more seriously when dressed your best.
Reason #2 – Other Men Are Inspired Through Your Style: When you are the best-dressed man around – other people look up to you. They will pull you aside and confess that you inspire them because you have the courage to dress well. Not because you are superficial – but because you don't try to fit in; you stand up for who you are.
Reason #3 – Dressing Sharp Makes You The Agent Of Change: This generation of men could be the best dressed to ever live. Just take a look at the popularity of stylish men with Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards, and men’s style magazines.
Reason #4 – You Will Reap The Benefits Of Being Well-Presented: When you start to dress well, people perceive you as a stronger leader. This translates into more opportunities and an increase in your income.
Reason #5 – You Get To Be The Best Version Of Yourself: The responsibility of leading other people in any capacity is complemented by your style sense. I see the importance in presenting my best self because my businesses are geared towards inspiring other people to live better lives.
2. Greet People with a Firm Handshake
One of the many things my father taught me growing up was to have a firm handshake and the importance that it makes during a first impression. Sweaty palms, a weak grip, not making eye contact and a lack of pumping are big no-no’s when reaching out and shaking a stranger’s hand. A cool hand, a firm grasp, a reasonably timed eye-lock and a few ups and downs of the other person’s five digits give a better first impression. Here are a few tips when going in for the ever important handshake.
Know When to Initiate: The person in a higher position of authority or age should be the first one to extend a hand. For example, if you are interviewing for a job, the interviewer should be the one to take the lead. When meeting future in-laws, the father-in-law should start the handshake.
Stand and Look the Person in the Eye: If you are sitting, rise before extending your hand. This shows respect and puts you on the same level as the other person. Make eye contact and offer a sincere smile to show that you are happy to be where you are.
Offer a Greeting Before and During: If your palms are damp, you can delay extending your hand if you introduce yourself while blotting your palm on the side of your slacks or skirt. Your greeting should include his or her name and a pleasantry, such as, “It’s so nice to meet you, Ms. Jones.” If you have more nice things to say, include them at this time. Don’t go overboard and gush, or you may make the other person uncomfortable.
Your Handshake Should be Firm but Not Crushing: Future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson has a notoriously over barring, hand crushing handshake. This might be a bit much. On the other hand, you do not want to offer a limp hand because it gives the impression of weakness. However, this does not mean you should crush the other person’s hand. Be firm but not overpowering. If the other person offers a limp hand, give a gentle squeeze. This can be a cue for him or her to grip more firmly.
The Handshake Should be Approximately Two to Five Seconds Long: Most people prefer shorter handshakes. Be observant and follow the lead of the other person, particularly if he or she is in a superior position to you in business or social position.
Be Aware of Your Other Hand: Most people use their right hands unless they have a reason to use the left. Ideally, your left hand should be visible and unclenched. Don’t have your left hand in your pocket because this appears defensive. In most business situations, you shouldn’t use your left hand to touch the other person’s arm or cup his or her hand. However, in a personal setting, you may.
Shake Hands in an Up-and-Down Motion: The handshake shouldn’t go back and forth or side to side. Don’t pump the other person’s hand more than three times, or the greeting may become very uncomfortable.
3. Be Aware of your Body Language
When meeting someone new, it’s normal to be nervous not allowing your anxiety to show is key. I recall a situation where I met Daymond John at a pitch competition in which he was a judge and I was a finalist. He entered the green room with an entourage of people and a certain swagger that made me feel a foot tall. As I gave him my best firm handshake, I remember trembling on the inside. I'm certain he saw the fear in my eyes. My body language was weak.
When meeting people for the first time, our body language should be confident and comfortable. Obviously this is easier said than done. A good rule of thumb is to practice before you actually move into a situation in which you know you will be meeting new people. Practice taking long strides, sitting up straight, walking with a chest held high. These simple poses will increase your confidence.
A slight tilt of your head, or fidgeting tells a story. Do you talk to the floor when you speak? Lean your weight to one side? Learn what you're telling others with your body language and what others are telling you with theirs.
A Few Tips on Reading Faces
1. Brushing Hair Off your Face: Doing this calls attention to your frame, this movement shows a combination of nerves.
2. Smiling: People who grin for more than five seconds and only with their lips are probably faking it. I know for a fact I do this. Too much smiling in the workplace can make a person seem less serious.
3. Blinking: Typically speaking, we blink about 6-8 times a minute. Under stress, we blink more often and more dramatically. Want to know who is playing it cool, or freaking out on the inside? Count the blinks.
In most social situations, it is useful to have a close inner circle of friends or co-workers who can help you understand how the world perceives you. In doing so, you can ask them your strengths, winning traits, and what is most likable about you. Once you have a better understanding on how you are perceived you can then go to work on emphasizing these traits or working to correct them.
Another area that is often over looked is compliments. Often times we quickly dismiss them. But, in actuality our peers are telling us what we do best. Play to your strengths in this regard. Listen closely and understand the circumstances, the next time you receive a compliment.
4. Find Something in Common
Making a bond on a real human level can be key when making a great first impression. Now obviously this comes after the initial seven second rule. Finding commonalities are the building blocks of solidifying your initial encounter with someone.
How does one begin to accomplish this? After all you just met this person. The answer is rather simple. Ask questions. It can be as simple as attending the same university, having kids the same age, or recently seen the same movie. Again, the goal here is to create a connection on a human level. Once you have found an item you have in common with someone and you have planted the seed. Lets talk about growing the plant.
Here are a Few Pointers on being interesting
1. Be a good listener: People love to talk about themselves. So let them talk. And you listen.
2. Talk about the other persons interest: Why struggle in guessing what most people might find generically interesting? Ask people what they have been up to, what their hobbies are. Then, simply keep that conversation going.
3. Have three good stories: When a comedian gets onstage, they do not just anything. They have their act rehearsed. Likewise for a job interview you just do not say whats on your mind. Always have three good stories that are reliable, entertain, inform and engage. People are more interested in a good story than they are things. We all dabble in drama, gossip, etc. Finding human behaviors fascinating.
Ever meet someone who obviously attempts to impress you with their vast knowledge? You know the types, the ones who would do well on Jeopardy. This is a common mistake many people make, while attempting to make a good first impression. Instead of wowing and dazzling. Try to create a conversation that is memorable and engaging. Again. Ask and then listen. Repeat. The better you make the other person feel, the more inclined they will be to have a positive impression of you.