handshakeWhether you are in a business meeting, speaking with a customer, or interacting with a new acquaintance, first impressions are crucial. The first moments when you speak with someone are vital and truly set the tone for the entire interaction and all future interactions as well. According to research done at New York University, we make 11 major decisions about one another in the first seven seconds of meeting. Make those seven seconds count with the following tips.

1.       Appearance Actually Matters

Always check your appearance before meeting with someone. You want to ensure that you look professional and put together. People can tell if you put effort into your look. Make sure that you are dressed to suit the environment and occasion.

2.       Be Energetic

First impressions are all about making sure the other person knows that you are pleased and honored to meet them. Giving a bored, trite greeting does the exact opposite. Put some energy into your greeting to show the other person that their time is important to you.

3.       Use Your Manners

Believe it or not, the common courtesies that your mom taught you as a kid truly go a long way when communicating with others. Expressing common courtesy by saying “please” and “thank you” are truly universally appreciated. Avoid distractions such as cell phones, listen attentively, and utilize your communications skills to further exemplify your interest in the conversation.

4.       Watch Your Body Language

Body language plays a huge role in making a positive first impression. The book titled “Nonverbal Communication: The Unspoken Dialogue” states that first impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues than verbal cues. As taught in many leadership training courses, research shows that nonverbal cues have more impact than what a person says. With that in mind, be relaxed and confident when meeting someone.  Maintain eye contact to show that you are paying attention. Straight posture is also a sign of confidence and power. Straighten your posture to truly convey that you are self-assured and competent.

Along those same lines, be sure to keep your body position open and inviting. Do not put your hands on your hips or cross your arms or legs. By avoiding this type of body posture you will appear friendly and approachable.

As nerve-wracking as a first encounter can be, if you relax, are mindful of your body language, and most important of all, remember to be yourself, you will make a lasting, positive impression. You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so make the first time count! 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo

Piera Palazzolo of Dale Carnegie Training wants to contribute to the online conversation about leadership and business management with the blogging community. Dale Carnegie Training was founded in 1912 by one of America’s most influential speakers and leaders. Today the company continues to work with individuals and businesses to build leadership, public speaking, and management skills that result in success.
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