How To Make A Strong First Impression - Seven Tips That Really Work
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We have all heard this warning: You never get a second chance to make a good
first impression. Also, human behavior specialists caution that we only have
from seven to seventeen seconds of interacting with strangers before they form
an opinion of us.
With this widely acknowledged pressure to make our case instantly, here are
my seven tips for making your first impression strongly positive.
ONE: The greatest way to make a positive first impression is to demonstrate
immediately that the other person--not you--is the center of action and
Illustrate that the spotlight is on you only, and you*ll miss opportunities
for friendships, jobs, promotions, love relationships, networking, and sales.
Show that you are other-centered, and first-time acquaintances will be eager to
see you again.
Recently I attended a conference. At lunch, my wife and I sat with several
people we didn*t know. While most of our tablemates made good impressions, one
man emerged as the person we*d be sure to avoid all weekend. He talked about
himself, non-stop. Only rarely did anyone else get a chance to speak.
Unfortunately, he probably thought he was captivating us with his life story.
I applaud this definition of a bore: Somebody who talks about himself so much
that you don*t get to talk about yourself.
TWO: You*ll make a superb initial impression when you demonstrate good
listening skills. Give positive verbal cues:
Hmmm. . .interesting! Tell me more, please. What did you do next?
Just as actors benefit from prompts, your conversational partner will welcome
your assistance in keeping the exchange going.
Nonverbally, you show you*re a skilled listener by maintaining steady eye
contact. Remember how you respond to the social gadabout who appears to be
looking over your shoulder for the next person he or she wants to corner.
Remember, and offer full attention to everyone you meet.
THREE: Use the name of a new acquaintance frequently. Example: Judy, I like
that suggestion. Or: Your vacation must have been exciting, Fred. You show that
you have paid attention from the start, catching the name during the
introduction. Equally as important, you*ll make conversations more personal by
including the listener*s name several times.
FOUR: Be careful with humor.
Although a quip or two might serve as an icebreaker, stay away from sarcastic
remarks that could backfire. Because you don*t know a stranger*s sensitivities,
prolonged joking might establish barriers you can*t overcome, either now or
FIVE: Give up the need to be right.
This was Dr. Wayne Dyer*s advice in his wonderful book, Real Magic.
Confrontations with somebody you*ve just met will destroy rapport before you
even start building it. Wait until you have established credibility before you
challenge another*s statements.
SIX: Appearance counts.
Several years ago, a professional colleague offered to meet me for lunch. I
decided against wearing a suit, opting for a sport coat and tie. When he showed
up in shorts and sandals, the message he conveyed was: Bill, meeting you is a
rather ordinary experience, and doesn*t call for me to present a business-like
appearance. Not surprisingly, that was the last time I met with him.
True, standards for appropriate attire have changed drastically. Maybe the
best advice I can share came from a participant in a communication seminar I
conducted. She said: I don*t dress for the job I have now, I dress for the job I
want to have.
SEVEN: Speak clearly, confidently, and convincingly.
As a communication specialist, I have to point out that an individual*s
speaking style impacts the first impression, maybe more than we wish. Listeners
judge our intelligence, our cultural level, our education, even our leadership
ability by the words we select--and by how we say them.
Think of Professor Henry Higgins of My Fair Lady, who changed a so-called
guttersnipe into a lady, by teaching her to speak skillfully. While none of us
occupies the lowly level of Eliza Doolittle, we can keep her example in mind.
Rather than mumble, speak so you*re easily heard. Enunciate clearly. Alter your
pitch, to avoid the dullness of a monotone. Display animation in both voice and
facial expression. Gesture naturally, without canning your movements.
Keep these seven tips in mind. They will reduce your fear of business and
social encounters with unfamiliar faces. More positively, you*ll start enjoying
poise and success that you thought were beyond your reach.
About the Author
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., helps organizations “Finish in First Place” by
strengthening their communication, motivation, sales, and customer service. His
speeches, seminars, and communication coaching have benefited numerous clients,
including the Ritz- Carlton Cancun, Gillette, Duracell, Procter & Gamble,
Missouri Bar, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Visit his Web site to
sign up for his complimentary monthly E-mail newsletter:
http://www.ChampionshipCommunication.com Call Dr. Lampton to discuss how his
services will benefit your organization: 770-534-3425. E-mail him:
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-11-02 12:23:02 in Personal Articles