I think the phrase
“you’ll never get a second chance at a first impression”
was initially an advertising slogan, but it rings true for every part of our lives. Harvard professor, Amy Cuddy, has done some amazing work on confident body language and how to make a great first impression with people you meet.
She makes the initial observation that when you meet a potential new customer, potential employer or anyone with whom you want to establish a business relationship, it matters more that you come across first as ‘trustworthy and likeable’ rather than ‘skilled, experienced, and capable’.
This is because “it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.” Whilst this needs to be backed up fairly quickly with you showing that you are talented, it is the trust that comes first.
Whilst Amy Cuddy suggests a full range of tips, it is these five that resonate with me to make a great first impression as being genuine, likeable and trustworthy.
1. Listen more than you talk
Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond — not so much verbally, but non-verbally. That’s all it takes to show the other person he or she is important.
Then when you do speak, don’t offer advice unless you’re asked. Listening shows that you care a lot more than offering advice does, because when you offer advice, in most cases, you make the conversation about you.
Only speak when you have something important to say — and always define important as what matters to the other person, not to you.
2. Shift the spotlight to others
No one receives enough praise so start by telling people what they did well.
If you don’t know what they did well find out and then not only will people appreciate your praise, they’ll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they do.
And then they’ll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important, and they’ll love you for making them feel that way.
3. Listen positively
People who make a great first impression listen closely to everyone, and they make all of us, regardless of our position or social status or “level”, feel like we have something in common with them. Because we do. We’re all human.
4. Put your stuff away
Don’t check your phone. Don’t glance at your monitor. Don’t focus on anything else, even for a moment.
You can never connect with others if you’re busy connecting with your stuff, too.
Give the gift of your full attention and that gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you.
5. Don’t act as though you are self important – other people are more important to you than you
You already know your opinions, your perspectives and points of view. None of that is important because it’s already yours and you can’t learn anything from yourself.
But you don’t know what other people know, and everyone, no matter who he or she is, knows things you don’t know.
That makes other people a lot more important than you — because you can learn from them.
Behaving as though you are important doesn’t impress other people –it makes them irritated and uncomfortable.
One important tip is to learn to be humble and be able to laugh at yourself. Share your failures and admit your mistakes. People will warm to you and like you better and quicker.