No matter how much we might think that we are non-judgmental every one of us is ‘guilty’ of making first impressions about people. It can take as little as 3 seconds for us to make an initial first impression about somebody we meet for the very first time and this is whether we do that consciously or sub-consciously.
In business, what’s challenging is that people will often make a first impression about you even BEFORE you’ve actually met. It’s all based on the subject of perceived status and business hierarchy. Most business people will often know the job title as well as the name of the person they’re going to be meeting, before they’ve even met. As a result, they will likely form an initial impression of a person, simply based around their ‘status’ within a company. Usually if the person you’re meeting is in a higher ranked position to yourself, you’re already likely to be thinking that this is a person worth getting to know as they could be a valuable contact. If they hold the same or similar status to yourself, then you’ll think them worthy of your time. However, if their status is below that of yours, then you’re far more likely to keep them somewhat at a distance or, at best, tolerated. Yeah, this may be the extreme but, nevertheless, it does occur and does demonstrate just how important first impressions are. Trust me on this!
OK, “So how do you make a good impression?” you may ask. Firstly, the way you dress is very important. Your grooming, the watch and the jewelery you wear and the car you drive and its usually either one or several of these aspects which is likely to form a part of a person’s very first impressions about you.
Secondly, the way you carry yourself, the way you speak, move your eyes, gesture with your arms or hands – all of these will be giving off signals for people to create their own first impressions of you. Even when you speak, whilst this will be a more clearer indication of the qualities you have as a person to do business with and will, to a large extent, enable people to form opinions about your intelligence, knowledge, skills and experience in a particular field, it’s often the WAY you speak that will be remembered more than WHAT you actually say. Having polite manners, showing courtesy, being positive and energetic, coming across as reliable, honest and trustworthy and even smiling all help to give off a positive impression too.
It’s always a good idea to get a feel of what is and isn’t appropriate etiquette within your own specific environment to gain a better idea of how to create a positive first impression as it will often be this that will ultimately determine your success or failure.