First impressions

Photo: maya_on_the_move via Instagram

Do you make a good first impression?  In my opinion, it’s one of those life skills that you don’t really master until you’re well within adulthood.  They don’t teach this stuff in college.   Do you remember that episode of Friends where Monica and Chandler return from their honeymoon, having made friends with another couple on the flight home, only to discover that the phone number the couple gave them is wrong, and they begin to wonder if they didn’t make a good impression?

Chandler: I just don’t get it. We didn’t do anything wrong!
Monica: I know. Although you did tell an awful lot of jokes.
Chandler: I thought you said those jokes were funny! Joke, joke, joke, joke!
Monica: Joke, joke, blah, blah!
Chandler: Well maybe it was all of your questions.
Monica: What was wrong with my questions?
Chandler:The sheer volume. It was like flying with The Riddler.
Monica: I’m sorry, was that another joke?
Chandler: Was that another question?

Over the years, I’ve been coached on how to make a good first impression.  Here are some of the tips and tactics I’ve learned.

1.  Stop talking.  During a first encounter you may find yourself spewing out endless amounts of information while the listener politely nods, smiles, and asks a few relevant questions.  You walk away from the conversation feeling like an all-star, while the listener can’t seem to run away fast enough.  While the conversation was going well for you, you didn’t make any attempt for the listener to feel affirmed or appreciated.  Make sure you’re also thinking of ways to make the other person feel good – it could be as simple as asking about his/her day.

2.  Say their name.  Repeat.  People innately like to hear their own names.  It makes them feel special.  Don’t stop there – learn the names of spouses, children, and pets – then mention them in a follow-up e-mail or conversation.  Asking, “How was Katie’s dance recital?”

3.  Look interested and be conscious of your body language.  I’ve heard that a slight head tilt powerfully conveys the message that you’re sincerely interested in the what the other person is saying.  When meeting someone for the fist time, it’s crucial to keep your BRF (b*tchy resting face) under control! 

4.  Avoid bad days.  If you go to a cocktail party/networking event after having a bad day, chances are you’ll continue to have a bad day.  A bad mood is difficult to hide and most likely others will pick up on it via facial cues or body movements.  If you’re having a really bad day, avoid these types of events or make sure you have a fool-proof way to snap out of your gloomy mood.