Most of us would like to believe that we don’t judge others. While this may be somewhat true, we often make assumptions about an individual based on the first impression.
Many of us are able to move forward and form a final opinion once we get to know an individual. They either confirm what we assumed or we realize we were wrong.
Knowing that assumptions are made after the first impression, it is natural to want to give our best in that moment. Below are several tips on how to make a great first impression in any situation.
- Create a great greeting.
This takes a little research in cultural competency and knowing who you will be greeting. You want to make sure your smile, words, and handshake are all appropriate. In some cultures bowing may be more appropriate than handshakes, while in other cultures the degree of an appropriate smile varies. Create the perfect greeting for your particular situation
- Observe how you are dressed.
This does not simply include your clothes, but also accessories. People tend to make a lot of assumptions based on your physical presentation. It is important to know the atmosphere you are walking into and to dress accordingly. People may say that looks aren’t everything, but would you really trust a psychologist in their pajamas and sporting bedhead?
- Research the culture.
I can recall interviewing for a job, but I didn’t do my research. I’d relocated to the West Coast to an office where standard office attire was jeans and sweatshirts. On the day of my interview I showed up in a full business suit, hair pulled in a bun, and a briefcase. Thankfully, I got the job, but it sure was interesting later to hear everyone’s first impressions.
- Avoid new encounters on bad days.
If you are not in a good mood, stay at home. In a new situation with new people, they may not be able to recognize you are having a bad day because they don’t know you. Your mood is often expressed through facial expressions and body language. The last thing you want to do is give off the impression that you do not want to be where you are or that you are not interested. If it is a situation you cannot avoid, try some relaxation techniques or find other techniques that may help you change your negative mood before going out.
- Be aware of your body language.
Your body language includes facial expressions, your posture, the way you shake hands. Body language is a vital part of making good first impressions. Simply be aware of your body language and make changes as needed. I often show a lot of my feelings and emotions through my facial expressions. I have to work hard to not let confusion, annoyance, frustration, or lack of interest show. This takes a lot of awareness and a lot of practice.
- Be genuine.
There is nothing worse than having an encounter with a really fake person. In any situation it is important to be yourself. You may not want to loudly belch at the office party even if that’s who you are at home, but if you’re not into politics don’t pretend you are. Genuine people are more likable even if they don’t always “fit in.”
These are just a few tips; you have to find what works for you. Be confident, strong, and prepare to put your best foot forward. As an anonymous sage once said, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”