Did you know it only takes seconds for someone to form an opinion of you? These opinions set the tone for the relationship that follows, and are nearly impossible to undo. That’s why good first impressions are extremely important. If viewed positively, you will be respected and achieve social cohesion. If it’s the opposite, you will experience biases and social prejudices.
I first recognized the power of first impressions early in my career. I was at a conference in Cyprus. Many of the attendees spent their evening out late drinking, neglecting their early morning commitments that followed. When I was called up to present at 8:00AM sharp the room was nearly empty. After 25 minutes waiting for the room to fill up, a Senior who was moderating the presentations greeted the attendees by throwing a clock across the room, criticizing the guests for their irresponsible behaviour. You can bet that this encounter instantly changed the mood the mood in the room. By unleashing aggression, this Senior positioned his authority and demanded respect. You bet he was given it.
Personally, I don’t agree with fear tactics unless it is to set individuals in their place, as it had in this case. Positive first impressions are lasting. To create a good first impression I recommend you follow these three steps:
There’s a science behind smiling. Smiling generates positive emotions within and makes you more attractive on the outside. Naturally, people want to surround themselves with positive people. Smiling is the key ingredient to healthy and positive relationships. Smiling can calm fear and anxiety and shows that you’re interested in what the other person has to say. By smiling, you are expressing enthusiasm and radiating positivity, two characteristics that make your presence magnetic. Think about it from a business perspective. Why would someone want to buy your product if you weren’t genuinely excited about it? Smiling demonstrates that excitement.
2. Be Genuine
Smiling indicates you are genuine and a positive person but don’t think a fake smile is fooling anyone. People can see fake from a mile away. Being genuine roots back to authenticity. Authenticity requires you live honestly and have strong self-esteem. Expressing confidence, as well as vulnerability, allows you to have deep and meaningful conversations. People respect opinions from those who are connected with their true self. Being genuine means being emotionally involved and caring how others feel. Sincerity and authenticity are powerful tools in building lasting relationships because they make the other person feel valued.
3. Remember Names
The easiest way to show you are genuine is by remembering people's names. Blanking on the name of someone you’ve met before is both rude, and embarrassing. It makes the person feel devalued. Studies show that hearing our names actives our brain and make us pay more attention. For that reason, powerful leaders take care to use people’s names in conversation. Doing so helps build a connection with the individual, thus building a better relationship. It takes conscious effort to remember a name. Some tricks I use is asking for a business card, repeating their name back to them on a first introduction and associating them with someone you know with the same name.
Simply smiling, being genuine and remembering names are key in creating a good first impression. First impressions mold opinions about you. So why not make all interactions positive? People will see you as a better person for it.