"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Truer words were never spoken. Oftentimes, first impressions determine whether you will even get to make a second impression.
Psychology Today magazine gives a few pointers for getting off to a good start when you're just meeting someone.
When you're having a conversation with someone you're meeting for the first time, you should encourage the other person to talk about him- or herself instead of trying to make yourself the center of attention. For example, the person you're conversing with is telling you about a trip he or she just took, and that brings to mind a trip when you got terrible service. You think it's a great story, but experts warn that you should think before you open your mouth to share such anecdotes. When you meet someone, you don't know what kind of impression this type of story will leave.
What if you are meeting someone for the first time when you are in a bad mood? Experts suggest you fake your way through the experience. But isn't it better to be honest and be yourself? No, they say, because when you are first meeting someone, instead of seeing this as just a passing mood for you, the person may incorrectly conclude that you tend to be a negative person. See if you can find something positive to talk about. If not, apologize for your temporary trouble and hope the other person will give you the benefit of the doubt.
First impressions never count more than during a job interview. A recent CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 2,700 hiring managers uncovered some common mistakes — and a few humorous stories.
Asked what kind of no-nos they'd witnessed during interviews, the hiring managers named these blunders:
• Inappropriate attire.
• Lack of interest.
• Criticizing a current or previous employer.
• Arrogant attitude.
• Answering a cellphone or texting in the interview.
The winners/losers in the "Hall of Shame" category included:
• One candidate wore a business suit and flip-flops.
• A job-seeker asked if the interviewer wanted to meet later for a drink.
• The candidate who applied for an accounting job said he was "bad at managing money."
• A candidate for a customer service job told the interviewer, "I don't really like working with people."
Much of a first impression is based on your body language. If you want to be seen as a leader right away, show that you mean business in a firm and friendly manner:
• Raise your eyebrows briefly upon meeting someone. It's a subtle, powerful signal that conveys a positive impression, and it takes just one-fifth of a second.
• Eye contact sends the signal that you're interested in what other people are saying. Just be careful not to cross the line and stare, because that would make you seem confrontational.
• Return handshakes appropriately. Keep in mind a limp handshake signals a wimpy image, and a crushing grip seems overly aggressive.
• Stand tall. Good posture says you're self-assured and trustworthy.
Whether you are looking for a job, meeting a customer for the first time, being introduced to your future in-laws or getting acquainted with your new neighbors, don't just put your best foot forward, let them see your best self.
Mackay's Moral: First impressions are lasting impressions.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.