Making a good impression on others immediately is crucial in business because research shows that others size you up within seconds of meeting you – and good relationships are vital.
Despite the overwhelming focus on social media and digital technology around us these days, the most important interactions in business still take place in person, face-to-face. Everything else is just a substitute. Social commentator and observer Gretchen Rubin offers valuable suggestions on how to make a good first impression when you meet someone, especially when they are important to you:
- Smile and lean toward others as they talk.
- At least at the start, focus on positive comments, not criticisms or complaints.
- Look them in the eye more than you look away. And don’t keep looking away as though you are looking for someone better to talk to.
- If standing, keep your body fully facing the people you’re speaking with.
- Ask questions and follow up on people’s remarks; don’t just use their response as a way to talk about yourself on the same subject, ie talking past them.
- Nevertheless, try to find common experiences or interests.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Listen genuinely to what the other person says, and focus on opinions and feelings, not just facts.
- Find ways to compliment the other person. People still like flattery even though they know it is flattery.
- Mention some vulnerabilities and laugh at yourself.
- Draw others out and encourage people to join the conversation. This creates a perception of leadership.
- Put energy in your voice.
- Offer a variety of topics; to do this, pre-prepare some topics.
- Share observations about everyday life.
- Share your passions and interests.
- Don’t dwell on the trivia of your life, especially annoyances.
- Remember the serial position effect: people give weight to their early perceptions in the interaction (Were you engaged, warm, distracted, pompous?), which is known as the primacy effect, and to perceptions at the end, known as the recency effect. Interaction in the middle of a conversation is remembered least, so be at your most charming at the beginning and end of the conversation.
- Remember: people enjoy the chat to be about themselves rather than about you.