|How To Make A Strong
First Impression: 7 Tips That Really Work
by: Bill Lampton Ph.D.
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.
1. 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 conversation.
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
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
2. 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
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.
3. 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.
4. 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 later.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Speak clearly, confidently, and
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.
Ph.D., wrote The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication,
Change Your Life! As a business consultant, speaker and coach, he helps
organizations improve their communication, motivation, customer service
and sales. His
Web site: http://www.ChampionshipCommunication.com