Do you have a job interview or a hot date on the table?
Perhaps you’re about to meet your partner’s family for the first time, so you want to make a great first impression.
I hear you. First impressions can have a long-lasting impact, so understandably, you want to get off to a great start.
In this article, we’ll look at 15 ways to make a great first impression without saying a word. Let’s get into it.
1) Have a confident and positive mindset
The first step to making a great first impression starts with the mind.
If you allow anxiety to take over or go into a situation with a negative attitude, it will show. It will be written all over your face and body before you’ve even opened your mouth.
So, go into it with positive thoughts and a calm mind. Tell yourself you’ll smash it and that things will go well. Practice smiling too!
If you feel nervous and can’t stop thinking of all the worst outcomes imaginable, practicing mindfulness helps. This works by clearing your mind, taking and focusing on your deep breaths.
It can help give you peace of mind and calm before entering a new situation.
2) Dress appropriately for the occasion
Now, let’s move on to your outfit. Appearance plays a huge part in someone’s first impression of you, so you want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately.
What’s the dress code? Is it formal? Formal/casual?
Whatever it is, stick to it. If you turn up to a formal event in casual clothes, that can affect someone’s first impression of you. The same goes for under, or over-dressing for the occasion.
As for your clothes itself, make sure they’re clean and unwrinkled. If your chosen outfit has stains and holes in them, you might want to pick another outfit to wear!
3) Take care of your personal grooming
Personal grooming is important too. You’ll hardly make the best impression if you attend an event with a rotten smell following you around. And if you turn up with your shirt on backwards and bed hair, that won’t help either!
To show that you’ve made an effort, make sure you’re well-groomed and presentable.
Have a wash so you smell nice and clean. Wash and style your hair. Brush your teeth to avoid foul-smelling breath, and keep your nails clean and trim. You can even douse on a little spray to top off that fresh smell.
4) Show up early or on time
Think about it. You’re meeting someone for the first time, and they run late for no reason. You’d probably feel irritated, disrespected, or messed about. It’s not a good look.
This especially goes for a job interview. If you show up late for no reason, the interviewer might think you’re unreliable and will randomly turn up late to work if they hire you.
So, turn up on time, or better yet, early.
If you drive or take public transport, turn up a little earlier in case you run into any problems with traffic. I’d aim to get there 10 – 15 minutes early.
It also helps to turn up early if you’re feeling nervous. You can then allow yourself to settle into your environment and ease your nerves before the big meeting.
There’s nothing that eases tension or unfamiliarity quite like a smile.
When someone smiles at you, how does that make you feel?
It probably makes you feel good, especially when you’re having a down day. You may also get the impression of that person being friendly, even if you’ve never spoken to them.
That’s the impact a smile can have.
Also, smiling helps you and the person you’re meeting feel relaxed. Chances are you’ll come across as friendly and likeable if you show off your pearly whites. So, remember to smile!
6) Make eye contact (but not too much)
Making eye contact is a great way to come across as confident and in control. It also helps you to appear engaged and attentive, as I’ll touch on later.
You don’t want to give too much eye contact, though. If it seems like you’re staring into someone’s soul, it might weird that person out.
It’s good to have a balance. Look away now and again, like when you’re gathering your thoughts.
7) Give a firm handshake
Handshakes can play a part in someone’s first impression of you. In the career world, this is especially something to note when meeting someone for the first time.
Did you know a flimsy handshake can make you appear passive, according to research?
Now, imagine you have a job interview for a management role. Passive is the last impression you’d want to make for a position where you’re leading a team of people.
Give a firm handshake by putting a little pressure into it. Try not to squeeze their hand to death, though! If the handshake’s too strong, this may make you seem controlling.
8) Use open body language
Your body language can tell people a lot. Since 60% – 65% of communication goes into it, you want to ensure you use open body language in your interactions.
Using closed body language may make it seem like you’d rather be anywhere but there talking to them! This is not the impression you want to give.
Here are a few tips for using open body language.
- Avoid crossing your arms and legs
- Face your body towards the person you’re interacting with
- Lean forward slightly (but not too much. You want to respect their boundaries)
Open body language can help you appear warm, friendly and approachable.
9) Be mindful of your body language (and facial expressions)
Following on from my previous point. Be mindful of your body language and facial expressions – it’s easy to do things subconsciously without realizing it.
An example. If you’re nervous, you may fidget, use hand gestures excessively or play with your hands. As for your facial expressions, you might tense your face, frown, and generally look physically uncomfortable.
Being aware of what your body and face are doing can help you avoid giving off an unwanted first impression of yourself.
10) Ensure you have good posture
Another way to exude confidence is to have good posture. That means arching your back so you’re standing tall and straight.
On the contrary, slouching and hunching your shoulders does the opposite as you make yourself smaller.
When you stand tall and straight, put your shoulders back and hold your chin up – confidence and approachability will help you to make a positive impression.
11) Show respect and consideration
You can show respect and consideration with more than just words.
In fact, your actions can help you appear kind, considerate and respectful to whoever you’re meeting.
Examples: You can initiate a handshake, pull the door open for someone, let them walk through the door first or pull out a chair for them.
These are just a few ways to show respect and consideration without saying a word.
12) Respect boundaries
I touched on this briefly when I mentioned leaning forward in conversation. This can show you’re engaged and interested in the other person.
But leaning in too close can cross boundaries and make the other person uncomfortable.
The same goes for if you stand too close to someone. If you don’t know them well, that may also make them feel awkward.
To avoid this uncomfortable scenario, stand a comfortable distance away. You don’t want to stand so far that you appear distant. And as I’ve established, standing too close is not ideal either.
Respecting boundaries applies to touching, too. You don’t want to be too handsy with someone you don’t know. For example, touching someone’s shoulder or hands too much or wrapping your arms around them.
13) Be attentive
You also don’t want to make the person you’re meeting feel like you don’t want to be there. But you may do that if you spend most of the time glued to your phone or turned away from them.
It may make them think you’re rude or don’t care.
So being attentive and interested is another way to make a great first impression.
You can show that you’re attentive by making eye contact, nodding and smiling, and using open body language.
14) Practice active listening
Actively listening in conversations is another way to be attentive.
People will appreciate it if you genuinely listen to what they say. We all love feeling heard, and active listening achieves that.
Use your body to show you’re listening. Again, nodding and smiling, leaning slightly forward and maintaining eye contact all help to establish that you’re engaged and present in the moment.
15) Be authentic
Meeting someone for the first time can be nerve-wracking. Since you want to make the best first impression, you may think putting on an act will help you get into someone’s good books.
But this may show in your interactions if you try to be someone you’re not. For instance, you may appear awkward and uncomfortable because you’re trying to seem a certain way.
Plus, keeping up the pretence is hard, and the cracks may slip as time progresses.
What I’m saying is that it’s easier to be yourself. If you’re true to who you are, this will shine through. And you’ll have a much better chance of winning people over.
It’s important to make an effort to make a great first impression, as this can leave a long-lasting impact on someone’s mind.
Make sure to use open body language, good posture, and be attentive to show that you’re engaged and interested in the other person.
If you’re feeling nervous, dust those nerves off with positive thoughts and deep breaths, then dress the part and turn up early, or on time.
Bear these things in mind, and you’ll be sure to make a great first impression!
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