You are making a first impression on people every day. Even those who see us on a daily basis are forming opinions about our intelligence, expertise and character, based on how we look. Rightly or not, you telegraph who you are by how you present yourself.
The pace of our modern society delivers so many messages each minute that we rely on quick, sometimes instant, judgments. It may seem shallow, or even cruel, but human beings rely on instinct to guide their primal decisions. How you look is a catalyst to the proverbial “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
What’s Your Radar saying?
The shoe fits on almost every foot. It’s not just others making snap judgments about you; you are quickly gathering information the first time you meet someone. You look for their gender, age, nationality and social status. You can recognize a confident person by straight posture, strong walk and open look. Each of us uses our sixth sense to determine if the newcomer is trustworthy, a leader or follower, educated or street smart.
How to get noticed?
It’s important to make a good first impression in many areas of our life – job interviews, social networking meetings, a first date, or meeting with a client.
We are attracted to people who radiate happiness and success and avoid those who are insecure in their behaviour. A friendly smile assured confidence, and stylish attire goes a long way. If people trust you they want to continue business with you.
Do you offer people you meet an honest impression of your strengths and abilities? Do they have a chance to see your potential, your experience, and your inner stamina? Or do you portray a person who is just too tired to care, too lazy to work at anything, too jaded to give a damn?
What makes the first impression?
A first impression is made up of 3 types of communication
• verbal (what you are saying)
• audio (how you are talking)
• and visual (how you look).
All these communication channels need integrity and congruity. People see you, no matter how hard you try to present a different picture. Have the courage to allow what’s in you, to be clearly seen.
Although a wise human being will give you an open slate on the second and third encounter, few humans possess expansive wisdom. The first impression is nearly impossible to change, making a first encounter a certain impact. We have only a minute to make an impression but it will affect our relationship for years to come.
What watch for to get the first impression right
Record yourself to get an idea about your voice. Imagine yourself in different situations – a conversation with your friends, giving a speech, talking to a client or on a steamy date. Do you like the timbre and flow of your voice? Can you hear the pace and rhythm of your speech? It’s easy to change with just a bit of effort and discipline.
You can improve your voice by singing scales, or your favourite songs. You might want to give it a try in the shower – it sounds so much better and usually improves your mood! You can do the ‘tarzan’ exercise – tap yourself to the chest and shout AAAAA. It helps to get rid of squeaky notes and makes your voice strong and confident.
Work the Mirror.
People who stand tall, smile brightly, make eye contact and greet us with a firm handshake project confidence and encourage others to feel at ease.
Confidence helps us to initiate or participate in a conversation. Of course, confidence comes from the inside out, and you can’t fake it. But you can use body language to trigger a more ‘confident you’.
You can ‘make’ yourself be confident. Go to the mirror and practice:
– Good posture, don’t slouch, sit or stand up straight, feel your body stretch from your feet to the crown of your head. Be present. Be sure. Be yourself.
– Open your body language – uncross everything – your arms and legs.
– Smile – even if it feels fake – do it until you feel alive.
– Make eye to eye contact – show others you care about them, that you are interested in what they have to say and who they are.
Mirror, mirror on the wall: practice looking at yourself. Don’t shy away. Look deeply into your own eyes. Practice smiling. Find a look that feels right to you, and practice a few minutes a day in front of the mirror, until you present that look quite natural.