Copyright 2006-2011 Henrik Edberg.
First impressions are important.
Everyone stereotypes everyone on first impression, even if we are reluctant to do it.
We all get a first impression of a new person that creates a mental image of his or her personality in our minds.
That image of you often lasts and can affect the relationship that follows.
Another thing is that we often play different roles in relationships. With our parents we play one role, with friends another, with someone we are interested in/in love with a third, when shopping for clothes in a store a fourth. And so on.
A good or great first impression can create a positive role in the minds of the new people we meet. When we meet them again, we are often drawn back into this role. Sometimes it happens almost unconsciously until you after a few minutes notice that you have fallen into your old role - like when you meet friends you haven't seen in years - in that dynamic once again. You may not always be drawn into that role. But if you do it sure is better to have a positive than a negative role saved for you.
Here are some of the things I've learned about improving first impressions. Of course, different environments like business meetings with suits and ties or parties with colourful drinks come with different goals and expectations. So figure out what's appropriate and useful in each meeting.
1. Don't think too much.
First, perhaps the most important tip: don't think too much. This will help you let the conversation flow easily and you won't become self conscious and nervous. Try, as much as possible, to stay focused on the people you are talking to rather than focusing on yourself.
2. Act as if you are meeting a good friend.
If you just imagine that the person you will met/have just met and are talking to is one of your best friends you'll probably adjust unconsciously and start to smile, open up your body language to a very friendly and warm position and reduce any nervousness or weirdness in your tone of voice and body language. This technique is also a great help to stop over-thinking and it puts you in the present moment again. Don't overdo it though, you might not want to hug and kiss right away.
The nice thing about this is that you may also start to feel positive feelings towards this new person, just as you do with your friend when you meet him/her. This is a pretty good starting point for getting them to reciprocate and for developing a good relationship.
3. Stand and sit up straight.
Keeping a good but relaxed posture certainly improves on the impression one makes. Don't slouch. Sit or stand up straight.
4. Be positive.
Sometimes you can go in all positive in a first meeting. Sometimes it may not be the best approach to go in too positive as it can be seen as bit abrasive or feel like a bit too much for the other person. A better way to convey a positive attitude in a first meeting can then be to read the mood of person(s) before you start talking - by just watching them - and then match it for a short while. Then - when you have an emotional connection - you can let your positivity arise a bit more.
Regardless if you start out positive from the get-go or a short while into the meeting, be sure to positive. If you, for instance, start a first meeting by complaining, there's a big chance the people you meet will mentally label you as a complainer or a negative person.
5. Mentally rehearse before you even enter the room.
Visualize how great the events will unfold - see and hear it - and also how great will you feel at this meeting.
See yourself smiling, being positive, open and having a great time. See the excellent outcome in your mind. Then release by visualizing that it has already happened, that the meeting is over with the desired result. This is surprisingly effective and will get you into a great and relaxed mood before even stepping into the first, second or twentieth meeting.
You may want to not think much at all (tip #1) or act as if you are meeting a good friend (tip #2) or use a positive mental rehearsal before a meeting. Try them all and see which one - or combination - that works best for you.
6. The words you use to start the conversation with aren't always that important.
As long as you use some of the tips above it will usually not really matter too much what word or phrase you use to start the conversation. The words are only 7 percent of your communication. 93 percent is in your tone of voice and your body language. Sure, those numbers - that comes from a study that psychologist Albert Mehrabian did - may not always be completely accurate in a conversation.
But the point is; don't over-think things. A simple "Hi!" backed up by a relaxed and confident smile may do just fine.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2006-2011 Henrik Edberg.
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