Why First Impressions Matter

From the desk of Kelsey Buell,

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I mean, you can try…but really the first time around is the most important.

Did you know that…HR managers especially…typically know within the first 5 seconds of meeting a candidate whether or not they will be interested in hiring them?

That’s shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! (Which fun fact…happens to be 9 seconds.)

Even if you’re not interviewing for a job position, when you meet someone new, do you care how you come across?

Do you want to be seen as someone who cares about others and someone with attraction power?

I always want to make people feel good when I meet them for the first time. But if you’re lacking energy, or the tips and tricks to make a stronger, positive impression.

An unfortunate, negative experience…

About a year ago, I was having coffee with someone I had never met before.

I was told great things about this woman…that I would love her and connect instantly with her. 

Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not the model student for making positive first impressions. In fact, I often find myself getting distracted easily or having difficulty remembering names these days.

But during this coffee meeting, I walked in determined to make as great of a first impression as possible.

I spent the first 30 minutes asking question after question, to really make this individual feel valued and show that I was interested in what they had to say.

Eventually, she asked me to share more about who I am and what I do…and the unthinkable happened.

The second I began to speak, she started looking down at her hands and then back up at me, then down at her hands and back up at me…”uh-huh…uh-huh…” she said. 

It took me a second to realize what she was doing, but she was texting under the table!

Now, in this day and age, I understand it’s very common to be connected to technology, check your phone when in meetings, have your apple watch make a “ding” during a coffee conversation…

…but the craziest part was that it was as if she thought I “wouldn’t see her doing it” underneath the table.

I felt so disrespected and defeated.

Needless to say, this was just one of the many things she did during our meeting to make me feel unimportant and like she didn’t want to be there.

I have forgiven this individual and moved on, but needless to say, I will not forget how she made me feel.

Overall, a kind smile or intentional listening and eye contact can make a world of difference when making a first impression…and just showing them you care.

My all time favorite saying is: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Here are our Top Tips to Making a Great First Impression:

  • Body language: Fifty-five percent of the message we want to communicate comes across through our body language, 38% through the tone of our voice and only 7% is communicated via the words we use. (It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it)
  • Use their name: Did you know that someone’s name is the sweetest sound to their ear? We recommend using someone’s name 3 times during a conversation:
    • At the beginning of the conversation (Nice to meet you, name), somewhere in the middle (Tell me more about that, name…), and then again one more time at the end (It was great visiting with you, name). This will help you memorize their name faster and also make them feel like you are hearing them.
  • The slow smile: Believe it or not, instead of flashing a big and fast smile, taking time to look someone in the eyes and allow your smile to happen more slowly and intentionally can make a very warm first impression.
  • Firm Handshake: This one might seem obvious, but many people have still not mastered the perfect handshake. 
    • With covid still lingering, some people are not comfortable with the handshake. If you are okay with it, still go in for the handshake, and let the other person tell you whether or not they are comfortable. It’s better to try rather than miss an opportunity. 
  • Be interested and be present: Are you a good listener? Or are you thinking about something else when communicating?
  • Notice when you are at your best.  What time of the day are you best at communicating? You won’t be able to show up authentically and make a great first impression if there are things bogging you down.  It’s better to reschedule on someone so you can make a great first impression, than to connect with someone new when you’re in a negative mindset or stressed.
  • Volume and speed: Make sure you don’t come across with a speed and volume that is overwhelming to the other person. Remember to take deep breaths and pauses when communicating. 

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