Making a good impression can be the difference between landing a new job or hitting it off on a first date…
That’s why it’s important to know how to present yourself so others remember you in a good light!
I’ve studied the habits of people who make a great first impression, and I’ll share my findings below. It pays to learn from the best, so let’s jump straight in!
1) They stand up
I don’t know about you, but when I was younger my mom and dad would always encourage us to stand up when someone older came to greet us – it was considered rude to stay sitting.
And people who make a great impression as adults do this because not only does it show respect, but also manners!
The moment they see the person they’re waiting for, whether it’s an interviewer for a job or their partner’s parents for the first time, they’ll be up on their feet before the person even reaches them.
2) They always make eye contact
And when the person they’re meeting does get level with them, they’re always sure to maintain eye contact…
Here’s the thing that many people don’t realize:
Eye contact is incredibly powerful. In psychological terms, when meeting someone for the first time, looking them in the eyes displays:
- Trustworthiness. Generally, people with something to hide will avoid looking directly into people’s eyes.
- Confidence. When you maintain eye contact, you’re showing self-assurance.
- Emotional communication. So much can be expressed through the eyes, from empathy to concern.
So, if you want to make better first impressions, get used to looking people in the eye (and maintaining it for the duration of the conversation!).
3) They extend their hand first
As well as standing up and making eye contact, another habit of people who make a great first impression is their willingness to extend their hand for a handshake first.
They don’t awkwardly hang around, waiting for the other person to initiate the greeting. They put themselves out there first – another clear indication of confidence.
But that’s not all…
When they shake hands, they do so firmly. No limp hands, no extending just the fingers (if you’re going to do this, it’s better to not extend your hand at all!).
In fact, I’ve been told by numerous employers that one thing they noticed first about me was my firm, strong handshake – funnily enough, I remember practicing it when I was in my teens. So if your handshake sucks, enlist the help of a friend!
4) They speak calmly and clearly
Have you ever noticed how when someone mumbles or looks at the floor while they’re speaking, they’re often overlooked or ignored?
That’s because when making a first impression, you want to make your presence in the room known.
There’s no point hiding in the corner or hoping the chair will eat you up…
Instead, you’ve got to use your voice.
People who have nailed the art of first impressions know the importance of this. That’s why they take a deep breath before speaking and then introduce themselves calmly but assertively.
And let’s be honest here, people will remember your name much more easily if you say it with pride and confidence, rather than if you’re flushed, nervous, or whispering!
5) They use positive body language
Now, another habit that’ll improve your first impression is using positive body language.
Someone who impresses at first sight knows that their body is the most powerful tool in the box – simply because so much is conveyed without words!
That’s why they tend to:
- Smile genuinely
- Keep an open posture
- Lean in to hear better
- Nod to show understanding
I’ve met plenty of people who remain expressionless throughout a conversation, and it’s hard to gauge what they’re thinking or if they’re in agreement or disagreement.
So, make it easy for people to understand you. This will give them a great first impression, whilst helping them to feel relaxed in your company.
6) They use people’s names
Another habit of people who’ve nailed the art of first impressions is to learn people’s names, and quickly.
This is something I personally struggle with – I have a memory of a goldfish.
So, I’ve learned to repeat people’s names back when they first mention it, and then a few more times quietly in my head.
Why is this so important?
Well, for a start, when you use people’s names, it shows personalization. You’re getting past the stranger barrier and into familiar territory.
Secondly, it shows you’re paying attention! And this is a surefire way to get into a person’s good books, especially if you’re applying for a job or meeting someone for the first time on a blind date.
And finally, it’s respectful. You’re appreciating them as an individual, not just another face in the crowd.
7) They actively listen
How many times have you found yourself in a conversation where, despite observing the speaker’s lips moving, you fail to recall what they’re actually saying?
It can happen to the best of us, especially when we’re tired or stressed.
But if you want to leave a good mark on people the first time you meet, it’s key to practice active listening. How does it work?
- Make eye contact (we know how important that is!)
- Don’t interrupt them
- Avoid distractions like looking at your phone or what other people are doing
- Ask thoughtful questions to show interest
I’ve been practicing the above, and it really makes a difference. You’ll find that you connect better with people when you give them your full attention and listen to everything they say.
8) They dress well
Now, I’ve left this point for further down in the article, as times are changing, and as a society, we’re becoming better at accepting people regardless of their style.
But with that being said, if you’re going for an interview or an important meeting, you should dress smartly.
If you’re going on a date, express your style but ensure you’re well put together and have made an effort with your personal hygiene.
Essentially, you’ve got to know your audience to dress appropriately.
You see when you make an effort with your appearance, it shows other people that you care – you’re bothered enough to do your hair or put on some aftershave.
And all this goes down well when trying to make a good first impression!
9) They have polite manners
As well as dressing nicely, people who ace first impressions know the importance of having good manners…
That means never forgetting to say “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome”.
But manners extend further than that…
It’s also about respecting other people’s personal space.
Let’s say you’re meeting an international group, and there are conservative women from Saudi Arabia there. You may refrain from shaking their hand, out of respect for their culture and religion.
Ultimately, it’s all about being considerate and showing people that you respect their personal boundaries!
10) They show an interest
And finally, something I’ve noticed about people who make a great first impression is that they show a great deal of interest when meeting someone for the first time.
For example, I remember meeting my neighbors when we first moved to the area. They were both really open and friendly, but crucially, they asked the right questions.
They wanted to know my work routine, to avoid disturbing me…In return, I found out they were early sleepers so I knew to keep noise to a minimum in the evenings.
Here’s the thing, when you show an interest, you make the other person feel valued and important.
It’s a sign that you’re being considerate of their needs and want to find out more about them!
If you approach people with nothing but authenticity, it’ll be hard to go wrong, after all, that’s what people value the most in life!
So remember, be yourself, be warm and inviting, and let your personality do the rest!