You have about 7 seconds to make a first impression! Whether it is for a job interview, business meeting, or social event, when meeting someone for the first time our brain makes lots of computations.
These thoughts are often generated by both verbal and nonverbal communication...what we see, hear, and perceive.
You can influence how you communicate in those first few seconds.
Share your thoughts and comments below if you have struggled with making the right first impression or if you have given a person the wrong impression at first glance and later determined you had it all wrong.
Do I Need To Adjust My Attitude?
As I reflect back, I think this is something I need to work on today...making the right first impression. Although I still struggle with the thought of people, who make the right first impressions in the past, turned out to be deceptive in the end, and the ones who looked 'unapproachable' were actually the ones who were trustworthy. Maybe, that's just my own bias speaking. I tend to make excuses for not changing, but am I wrong in my assessment of most people today, who lure you in with a beautiful tasty bait, and when you bite it turned out to be an undercover trap? Ever heard of the phrase "a wolf in sheep's clothing"? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all people are the same, but it sure seems these days however, there is usually a hidden agenda.
It does sound like I've got trust issues right? It's true. I cannot list how many times I trusted the wrong person (I thought was the right one) and the right ones, I thought were the wrong ones, I ended up neglecting and ignoring.
Trust me, I am not the only one who feels this way or who've been hurt many times by a beautiful, flashy smile. People who are aggressive sometimes scare the crap out of me. They often times come off too controlling and demanding. Can I get a witness?
But, perception is in the eye of the beholder isn't it? Everyone has their own opinion and assessment of any given situation, moreover, I believe trauma and past experiences sometimes cloud our way of thinking often, even though we think it's not a factor. In my study of Theology, it dawned on me that flattery comes in all shapes and packages, most times it may seem very innocent, but flattery is just another form of deception. Here is its definition:
excessive and insincere praise, given especially to further one's own interests...
- Oxford Dictionary of English
I guess when it all boils down to it, be yourself, and always keep in mind that whatever concerns and prejudgments you have about people you meet for the very first time, they too, have the very same concerns about you. So, ask yourself what you can do differently that says to others, "Hey! My door is open, come talk to me!" You can even take surveys from others on how they view you as a person, or what their first impressions about you were. I would advise taking surveys from strangers, this way you get candor and objectivity.
Do I Need To Smile More?
I am not big on smiles overall, but that does not mean I don't love to laugh. You would be surprise of how big a comedian I am, and how much I love to talk and share stories. But, people have told me my overall look is that of being serious and scary to approach, although when they get to really know me in the end, they say I have the most humblest of hearts and I am thoughtful and empathetic. In other words, first impression, I look like a vicious bull dog, but when they past that barrier, I am to that of a loving cocker spaniel (my last dog was a cocker spaniel).
Standing Too Straight
I am a retired combat veteran of the US Marine Corps, and we were taught back in recruit depot the meaning of pride and who we were as Marines. Overall, chin and head up, back straight, and rigid posture. By the time they were done with us, we were liken to that of mechanical, inanimate, manikin "Ken Dolls" with a uniform (the best uniforms of all service branches that is). Okay, Robots if you didn't get the joke. No one likes a slouch in a uniform. It looks tacky. So, this was my strongest trait, but the critics still say, "You are too stiff, you need to relax." I mean how can I win with these people?
Make Eye Contact
The article above states, "Looking into another person's eyes indicate trustworthiness, interest, and openness." I do not 100% agree with this statement. The reason is the same as above when it comes to "trust versus deception". People can look you dead in your eyes, but plot against you behind your back. People can look you dead in your eyes, which indicates they are listening, but don't understand a thing you just said. I've been there. Besides, in some cultures, it is considered disrespectful to look someone in their eyes.
If I meet someone for the first time I look them in their eyes and exchange pleasantries. In contrast to this, if someone is talking to me, (not my boss or during an interview, but associate or friend) I would usually not make eye contact, but I tune my ears towards them and give them my full 'ear-tention', and this is coupled with my body language that tells them they have my fullest attention. Once in a while I would glance into their eyes to reassure them of this. But staring someone in their eyes for long periods of time, I'm sure it makes the other person feel uncomfortable. It sure bugs me out when someone does it to me, this is why I try not to do it.
I believe all this depends on the type of personality or character of the person you are speaking with. You can use your intuition to determine if the person demands eye contact or if its of little significance to them. Overall, everyone wants to know that they are being heard and understood. So, whatever technique you use to communicate with someone, be assured to let them know by any means, that they have your full attention, both in a respectful way, and a way not to make the person or yourself feel uncomfortable.
Extend Your Hand for a Handshake
The article above says to "Firmly grip the other person's hand, give one shake and release." This one I have mixed feelings about. All of my young teen and adult life, I was under the impression to be gentle when shaking peoples hands, especially women. With the men, it was just not something we were big on doing. But, this all changed when I met my Staff Sargent Recruiter for the Marines back in 1998 who snapped at me when I shoke his hand. It was very embarrassing what he said about how I shoke his hand, so it does not need repeating here. Nevertheless, he taught me how to shake someone's hand like a man that stuck with me many years later. However, when it comes to shaking a lady's hand, I am still that old gentle romantic, but that's another story.
In today's society and with the Covid-19 and other viruses, even in the past before all this, if I can recall correctly, many people were a little wary about shaking hands for all types of personal reasons. Most were either germophobes or they just felt uncomfortable with touching another person they did not know. Me on the other hand, I try not to initiate handshakes. Usually, I would let the other person do the initiating first. Regardless if a handshake is initiated or not, it sometimes come off as embarrassing and awkward. For example: You might be going in for a handshake, but the other person meets it with a fist or elbow bump, sometimes they don't return the hand shake at all. I have even seen instances where someone goes in for a handshake and the recipient hesitates or shakes the initiator's hand like it had leprosy. Yup! Weird!
I cannot tell you what to do in your moment when it comes to how you initiate your handshake, but use wisdom and intuition, most importantly, be yourself.
- Vee Nelly
Feel free to leave your comments below if you have any advice or if you too experienced similar cases with which I've reflected upon above.