Do you ever think about the first impression you give?
I’m guessing not very often. Maybe you might think about it for a first date or a job interview.
Most of the time though, I bet you never think about it.
You might be thinking right now ‘Ed, why does it matter? Shouldn’t people be caring more about substance? Shouldn’t we NOT judge a book by its cover?’
We shouldn’t do…….but the cold, hard reality is……….we do.
Come on. Admit it.
You judge on first impressions. We all do.
Look around you on your daily commute. People in your coffee shop. On your your lunch break.
Who’s making a strong impression on you?
Who’s stood out as someone who you’ve noticed, in a positive way?
Who’ve you noticed in a negative way?
You’re judging everyone you see whether you know it or not.
Let’s embrace reality
Scrap that comment above about it being a cold hard reality and let’s embrace this fact to our advantage.
It’s said that people make up their mind about you in the first 7 seconds.
I’d say it was WAY less than that.
This article says that actually it’s a tenth of a second.
Think about dates you’ve been on.
I remember this one date and the girl looked so far different to her profile pic. That date was over from the first ‘good to meet you’.
Think about interviews you’ve given.
How many times have you decided in the first ten seconds that the person was just unsuitable? Harsh? Maybe. But that’s how the world works.
Knowing this and not doing something about it is like handcuffing yourself before going to a fist fight.
Now that we’re agreed on the need for a strong first impression, what does this look like?
Let’s start with what it’s not.
It’s definitely not doing what adds up to a weak first impression.
- bad posture,
- greasy hair,
- bad clothes,
- a limp handshake,
- a meek smile,
- a soft voice etc.
Eliminate these first.
What do you think a strong impression looks like?
For me, I like a friendly, open confidence.
I want someone to look good, like they’ve made an effort, with a warm smile, good eye contact and a strong handshake.
I want that person to be interested and fully engaged in our interaction.
The magic ingredient of killer first impressions
All these things however pale into insignificance against the most important ingredient in a killer first impression.
That ingredient is warmth.
This was present in absolute spades with the best and most memorable first impression I’ve ever experienced.
This was from my soon-to-be mother-in-law.
I had come back to the flat in the early hours from a particularly heavy night out, much to Angelique’s anger. (She was burning with rage.)
Stephanie landed in London from Sydney a couple of hours later at 5am.
The door bell rang at 6.30am and as soon as I opened the door, she flung her arms around me and gave me a huge hug!
We’d never met before in person but I’ll never forget her warmth in that moment.
I’ll always remember that.
It’s made such a lasting impression on me, that I’m telling you about it now two years later.
Isn’t this what we mean by a GREAT first impression?
It reminds of a quote from the late, great Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Make someone feel like you’re DELIGHTED to see them and you’ll make the best possible impression you can.
Let me know what you think a strong first impression is in the comments below!