Wood Words

Go Ahead. Impress Me!

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Cliche? Maybe.

True? Definitely – especially when you’re starting a new assignment or direct position.

At work, first impressions matter – a lot! Supervisors and co-workers naturally size you up within the first few moments of meeting you, making snap judgments based on:

  • the way you dress and your overall appearance
  • the way you stand and carry yourself
  • the amount of eye contact you make
  • the tone of your voice
  • your handshake
  • and many other factors

What, exactly, are your new boss and co-workers evaluating? Research from Harvard Business School, cited in this Entrepreneur.com article, found that people make snap judgments about other people that answer two fundamental questions:

  1. Can I trust this person?
  2. Can I respect this person’s capabilities?
  3. Since only takes seconds for someone to subconsciously answer these two questions, use these tips to ensure that everyone you meet instantly trusts, respects and likes you:
  • Smile (the right way). A wide grin can convey naivete, while a subtle, warm smile can convey friendliness and even intelligence.
  • Use your eyes (and lids). Staring someone down is intimidating, but staring at the floor signals lack of confidence and/or disinterest. Make eye contact when speaking and listening, and pay attention to your eyelid-openness. Strange? Perhaps; but keeping your eyes wide (without glaring) makes you appear more alert and intelligent.
  • Use positive body language. Pay attention to your posture and gestures. If your arms are crossed, uncross them, lean slightly toward the other person, and make sure you’re not slouching. Combine these tips with a warm smile and appropriate eye contact, and you’ll immediately amp-up your trust and likeability factors.
  • Put your phone away. When you’re about to be introduced, put your phone in your pocket or purse and leave it there. Checking your phone during the first few minutes of meeting someone shows extreme apathy, and it sets any introduction off on the wrong foot.
  • Let the person you’re meeting speak first. Taking the lead in a conversation shows dominance, which won’t help you build trust. Allow the other person to take the floor first; doing so promotes information-sharing that makes them feel understood (which builds trust and warmth).
  • Watch your tone. Your pitch, volume and rate of speech convey a wealth of information about your trust, dominance and even attractiveness. If you’re nervous when meeting someone, take a cleansing breath while you’re shaking hands. This will give you a moment to focus on speaking in a relaxed, friendly manner.
  • Be friendly. Being nice goes a long way in helping you fit in with a new group of people. Find little ways to be kind from the outset: hold a door; give a small complement; say “thank you.” But be careful not to overdo it. Too much friendliness can make you seem insincere or like a pushover.

Want more tips to make a great first impression?

Read this earlier post, “Upcoming Interview? Ideas for Making a Positive, Lasting First Impression

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