There are 86,400 seconds in a day. More than 30 million seconds in a year. But it only takes seconds seconds to form a first impression.
And these seconds seconds can change your coming years if not the entire life; seven seconds to leave an impressive first impression on your future partner; seven seconds to make your prospective employer think you’re trustworthy and bright in an interview.
If we know how to make the best out of these magical 7 second of time, it can be a pot of gold. We will be well ahead of the others.
If you make a bad first impression, you can hardly change it afterwards
Wait…First impressions aren’t that important. People can eventually understand who we are or what we’re capable of through further interaction. We can easily prove who we really are later on, can’t we?
Well…Of course we hope we can. But science has revealed at least twice the effort is required to change the first impression.
First impressions are a trick the brain plays on us
Ever heard of anchoring effect and confirmation bias? Anchoring effect is the tendency to base too heavily on the first given piece of information to make decision.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to favour in a way that confirms the preexisting beliefs and hypotheses. More importantly, disproportionately consideration is given to the alternative possibility.
What do they do with first impression? First, with limited understanding of new friends we meet, we tend to instantly rely on our intuitive to form our perceptions of who they are.
Second, confirmation bias makes it difficult for us to change our biased perceptions. When we further interact with our new friends, we will keep collecting information to prove our judgement is right and ignore anything against our beliefs.
That means, first impression is the by-product of our biased minds.
Do I need to disguise myself if I want to leave a good impression?
Nah. Not to be confused between ‘impressing others’ and ‘leaving a good impression’.
Impressing others means changing ourselves to fit in others’ expectations. Leaving a good impression means showing your best self to the others. No changing is involved at all.
Don’t pretend. Don’t disguise. Don’t hide our true self. The key is that we want the others feel good by our presence, as if the way we want to be treated when we meet new friends.
True. We should not judge a book by its cover. But who will bother picking up the book if its cover scares people off? In order for others to explore us further and deeper, we need to seek a way for them to be interested in us at the very first.
Be a book with rich content as well as an attractive cover.
How to ensure you leave a great first impression
Well, leaving a good impression can be done in a multitude of ways. From clothing to posture, from talking style to body language. Below are several tips for you to begin with:
- Physical appearance matters
Before actually knowing you deeper through interaction, physical appearance is the first clue one relies on to interpret who we are.
Besides, it is a way to show respect by choosing appropriate attire for different settings. It also means the person means something to us by dressing properly.
If it is a business setting, be aware of the dress code or culture. The requirement varies from culture to culture. A thumbs-up here does not mean the same elsewhere. Do the research!
Grooming and dressing are the key here. Are you cleanly shaved? Is your hairstyle messy? Are the clothes neat and tidy? The neatness and tidiness from all these little areas affect much on the impression on the whole.
- Don’t fake a smile. People will doubt your sincerity
Then what makes a genuine smile? A genuine smile means a Duchenne smile. It means when you smile, you raise the muscles at the corner of your mouth, of your cheeks and of your eyebrows. Smile is only genuine when our brows are raising and more importantly. It is an involuntary action.
It is understandable that sometimes it is hard to suddenly crack a smile. Then at least try not to look intimidating and grumpy!
Positivity plays a crucial part in shaping our first impression.
- Look into people’s eyes until you see the colours of their irises
Maintaining a moderate amount of eye contact delivers a sense of intimacy to the one we interact with. Consequently, they feel more connected to us and tend to be more positive toward the interaction and our content.
What makes a quality eye contact? Well, try to identify the color of the others’ irises. Get it? That makes a good eye contact example.
Moreover, numerous studies have shown that eye contact is associated with the following traits:
Attractive. Competent. Trustworthy. Sincere. Confident.
Are these the impression we want to leave? Stop staring at the ground and look at people in the eye then!
- It’s not about what you speak but how you speak
The manner we talk also contributes to our success in leaving a good impression.
Don’t rush your answer. Think thoroughly before any words come out of our mouth. Rapid answering gives an impression of insecurity and anxiety. Yet, don’t stay too long to answer or you appear hesitant. Try to ask ourselves whether the answer is complete and perfect. Fine? Then answer.
Give ourselves a break of one to two seconds before answering. We need time to put it in the best possible way.
The tempo matters too. Never speak too fast. It’s difficult to capture the gist in a machine-gun style of flow. It is lethal to any interaction. It is deadly to our impression.
Instead, talk with ease. Have a steady and calm flow. Properly segment our sentences to ensure the others can follow us and get the idea.
In the end, we will find ourselves sounding more appealing than we can imagine.
- Never perform your one-man show in communication
The notion ‘interaction’ implies the participation of everyone. None is solely responsible to do the talking part and neither is listening.
Remember conversation is a turn-taking action. We talk. They listen. They respond. We listen.
It is simply nonsense to constantly talking, depriving others of their opportunities to speak.
I know we are eager to show our best self. I know we can’t wait to express our brilliant thoughts. Sometimes it is essential for others to respond to us.
Learning to be a good listener is often overlooked by gifted speakers.
While listening, take notes of what the others are talking about. Attend to the others’ speaking by leaning slightly toward them.
Don’t idle our minds away. Communication involves interaction. If we only concern our own content and never respond, this is called ‘turn-taking individual speaking’, which is definitely irrelevant to leaving a good impression.
- Do you hate compliments? I don’t
Look for something to praise the others. It can bring closer one another and connect with others more.
If we are thinking about the physical appearance, be careful! It appears superficial to comment on the looks of other people.
Try to turn to the dressing styles – compliment them.
Remember conversation is interactive. If we praise the others, they are more willing to praise us and BINGO! We get the desired remarks and impression.
Remember that seven seconds are enough to change your life!
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