Can you really find out something about a person the first time you meet?
As it turns out, the importance of first impressions is a really big deal. Whether or not you realize it, there’s a lot of information that can be gleaned through things like body language, tones and other subtle cues.
The good news is, you can leverage this information (in an authentic way, of course—it’s not meant to be used to manipulate others) to set yourself up to have good first impressions more often than not.
Here are some secrets about first glance impressions that you should know.
First Impressions Aren’t Always Accurate, But They’re Memorable
Like it or not, your first impression of a person is important because many people remember it and use it to determine how they feel about you.
According to some studies, you only have 7 seconds after meeting someone before they start determining what they think about you. And if their first impression isn’t a good one, they’re far less likely to want to work with or be around you again in the future.
Hearing this, though, shouldn’t be a reason to clam up. It should simply be a piece of information that clues you in to the importance of meeting new people.
Take Care Of Your Teeth
We’ve heard our entire lives how important it is to brush our teeth and have a nice smile. As it turns out, that’s actually pretty important for first impressions.
Think about a time you met someone that seemed fine—until they opened their mouth and revealed that their dental hygiene was abysmal. Coupled with that, in all likelihood, was bad breath, which only made matters worse.
Take a moment to think about what that “said” about them. You might have thought:
- They don’t care about hygiene
- They don’t take care of themselves in general
- They don’t have much self-awareness
To be totally clear: none of these things are necessarily true. A person with bad teeth or breath might be the most hygienic, self-aware human you’ve ever met in other areas of their life.
But chances are you aren’t giving them a chance to prove that. So if you’re trying to make a good first impression, it’ll help to learn how to get a better smile.
How You Dress Matters
Psychological studies show that how we dress factors into how others perceive us, even in children.
The clothes we wear tell people a lot. They reveal the types of clothes we think are in style and suggest activities we may enjoy participating in (i.e. wearing sports clothes reveals your love of athletics).
Clothes also can “reveal” one’s perceived level of self-awareness. Maybe you love the outfit you’re wearing—but if it goes against social norms or is “taboo” in anyway, people are going to start forming opinions about you almost right away.
Again, this information shouldn’t be used to intimidate you. It’s just to remind you that when you first meet someone, these things all go into their head. Our brains naturally start to filter and sort things out as a sort of defense mechanism.
Body Language Is Important
Above all, how you carry yourself and the way you position your body says a lot to a person you’re meeting for the first time.
Body language has long been studied by psychologists. It’s believed that it not only reveals keys about one’s character or inner psychology, but also contributes to their overall health, too.
Subtle cues in body language that may reveal information about you include:
- Whether you slouch or sit up straight
- If you sit with your hands in your pocket, fidget, etc.
- Nervous ticks like clearing your throat, blinking a lot, sweating, etc.
- Facial expressions (frowning, smiling, etc.)
It’s sobering to realize that at any given moment two “conversations” can be happening in someone you’ve just met’s head—the one you’re having with your words, and the one they’re having as they interpret your body language.
Punctuality & Other Important Factors
When first meeting someone, there are a bunch of “little” factors that significantly add up when you’re being evaluated by someone else.
Showing up on time is one of them. You’re far less likely to make a good first impression if you show up late. Even if you get lost or something out of your control (i.e. an accident) takes place that’s out of your control, the other person is apt to consider this when making an overall judgment about you.
How positive you are matters, too. While there’s a difference between being a regular person with ups and downs and being a perpetual optimist, people generally don’t like spending time around pessimistic people who bring the mood down.
Similarly, being judgmental, arrogant or egotistical can spoil a first impression. Whether or not it’s true, these traits often seem to reveal a lot about your character, giving the person you’ve just met the impression that life is all about you.
In general, you can play it safe and avoid people making snap judgments by being on time, being positive and courteous, and shifting the conversation away from being about you. These little things can significantly add up.
The Importance of First Impressions
A lot goes into the importance of first impressions. While we like to think that first conversations are not that big a deal, it’s really easy to be written off if you don’t take them seriously.
Whether or not the information the person is “picking up” about you is true doesn’t matter. Our brains do this almost subconsciously, so it’s best to always be mindful of how you’re appearing to another person.
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