Dealing with people for the first time is always an interesting experience. You want to make a good impression, but you don’t want your nerves and natural awkwardness to show through. Here’s how start strong from day one with some simple tips that can help you create a dynamite first impression in any situation!
Making a good personality impression last is crucial for success. Creating a good first impression is not always easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips to help you make your first impression last. Read more in detail here: making good personality impression last.
Last week, we discussed why your first impression matters – how fast other people acquire an opinion of you, and how tough it is to change that opinion.
We also discussed how first impressions aren’t about attempting to be someone you’re not, but rather about matching and enhancing your actual sentiments, beliefs, and personality via your conversational methods and body language. We sometimes behave in ways that are in direct opposition to how we really feel, and this creates obstacles to others accessing our finest traits. Improving your initial impression removes these roadblocks, increasing the likelihood that new acquaintances will be able to connect with you and learn more about who you are. When you master the “mechanics” of making a strong first impression, you can be certain that the result — good or negative — will be based on genuine compatibility rather than a misfire of external signs.
A good first impression is made up of two elements: what you say (conversation) and how you behave (body language). Both are essential (you can learn more about the art of conversation here), but the latter has a considerably greater impact.
Nonverbal clues have a 4X greater influence on your overall perception than words. As a result, the way you stand, sit, gesture, and hold yourself may either improve or detract from the overall initial impression you create on others.
You want your body language to transmit three things to establish a good first impression: openness, confidence, and curiosity.
The Use of Body Language to Communicate Openness
Have you ever wanted to ask someone to snap your photo or scanned the room at a party to figure out who to approach? What criteria did you use to make your decision? You probably selected someone who seemed “open” rather than “closed,” even if you didn’t recognize it. Their facial expression, look, posture, and the way they spoke and interacted with others all felt warm, safe, and accessible rather than intimidating, confrontational, distant, and/or self-contained.
How can you create a friendly environment for yourself so that people want to approach you in the first place and feel a feeling of connection after they do?
It’s all about opening up your “body windows,” as body language expert Patti Wood puts it.
Body windows are body components that cause people to see you as more open or closed depending on how you position them. These are sites that seem personal and/or are at risk of bodily harm. As a result, when you “introduce” them to others, the more primitive portion of people’s minds see you as more friendly and accessible.
Wood compares someone who keeps certain bodily parts “locked” to a home with boarded up windows: the impression is dreary, frightening, cramped, and off-putting, and you wouldn’t want to walk inside. In contrast, a home with open windows seems fresh, friendly, and inviting.
Let’s take a closer look at each “window” and how to shut or open it:
Heart. The metaphorical seat of emotions like as love and warmth, as well as principles such as honesty, is the heart. It’s no surprise that having a “heart to heart” chat is referred to as having a candid, emotionally charged conversation.
If you look someone directly in the eyes — literally heart to heart — they will feel more connected to you and open up more. When you’re dealing with them “straight,” you come seem as more trustworthy. Even a quarter turn away from someone might reduce the intimacy of the conversation.
Eyes. The eyes are often referred to as the “windows to the soul.” So, instead of gazing at your feet or at your phone, don’t constantly have their shades drawn. If you don’t need sunglasses, don’t wear them. Also, try not to blink too much.
With an open gaze, look around and don’t be afraid to create warm, pleasant eye contact with others. Eye contact is often used as a signal for someone to approach.
Throat. By exposing one’s neck, one becomes exposed to assault. When you wear a button-up shirt and tie, which covers your neck twice, you project a closed-off, protected authority, which may be beneficial in the competitive business environment. An exposed neck, on the other hand, reads as friendly and inviting in a social context.
Remove your tie and unbutton your shirt a bit in your spare time. Wear a v-neck shirt to show off your neck while also allowing a bit more access to your heart. It doesn’t have to be very deep; just a few inches below your collarbone would suffice.
Perhaps this is why turtlenecks don’t create a strong first impression. Because, you know, turtlenecks.
Mouth. A frown registers as a possible danger in the primordial areas of the brain very quickly. An invitation is conveyed by a grin. It evokes feelings of warmth, friendliness, and openness. When you smile at someone, they get the impression that you like them.
Stomach. Crossing your arms over your tummy is one of the most typical actions people perform with their arms. However, this posture seems protective and creates a barrier between you and others, making you appear remote and aloof. This view is supported by research: when participants were instructed to listen to a presentation with their arms crossed, they felt more adversely toward the speaker and reported greater levels of stress than the control group. So, even if it seems a bit odd, sit and stand with your arms at your sides rather than crossed over your stomach to feel less stressed and to communicate more openness to others.
Hands. Particularly your palms. It’s difficult to lie when revealing your hands for any reason. People who are dishonest will clench their fists, stuff them into their pockets, tuck them beneath the table, or conceal them behind their backs. Showing open hands to others, on the other hand, indicates honesty, trustworthiness, and openness. So keep your hands at your sides and in front of you, and use an open palm to create a lot of movements.
Feet. The feet, according to Wood, are the body’s “most honest windows.” She argues that although we can frequently consciously control other portions of our bodies, particularly our upper half, our genuine sentiments “‘leak out’ via the feet.” The “foot lock,” when “one foot wraps around the leg, generally around the lower calf,” is one of these “tells,” according to her. “It’s like having a ‘closed’ sign hanging on the door,” Wood says of this body language.
In addition to opening each of your “body windows,” take sure to remove any things that stand between you and another individual. So, when you’re standing at a party, don’t hold your drink up to your chest, and when you’re sitting face-to-face with someone at a restaurant or coffee shop, don’t place your drink, laptop, bag, phone, or other personal items on the table between you. In fact, don’t even place your phone on the table. According to studies, just being aware of it — even if you’re not looking at it — causes individuals to make their conversations more shallow because they fear being interrupted at any moment, and hence abstain from getting deeper.
Overall, you want your body windows to be open and the connecting channel to be clear.
Body Language That Expresses Self-Assuredness
You don’t want to come off as timid or meek just because you want to show openness and a little vulnerability. On the contrary, being able to display some vulnerability demonstrates that you are confident and powerful, and that you are not afraid of being “attacked” or injured.
For various reasons, confidence in general helps to a more good initial impression.
First, anxiety and nervousness might cause individuals to have a gut response of distrust. They have no way of knowing if you’re nervous simply because you’re shy or because you’re concealing anything.
Second, insecurity is seen as a social cost. Individuals like people who are a social asset rather than a social burden, as we mentioned last time. Someone who is insecure will be very needy and want a great deal of validation. People instantly recognize the amount of energy they’ll have to devote to continually boosting the person’s spirits, which makes them want to pull away.
Third, not just in ourselves, but also in others we connect with, confidence is in high demand. People like collaborating with those who can help them advance in their careers. They also choose comrades who can assist them in navigating life with ease; everyone wants a moxie on their squad.
Finally, your degree of comfort has an impact on others. When you are worried and insecure, your temperament spreads, and others around you become uneasy and insecure as well. On the other hand, when you are peaceful and at ease with yourself, it helps others relax as well. People want to be in a pocket of safety and security created by the atmosphere of confidence.
Here’s how you use your body language to generate that aura.
Don’t attempt to hide or conceal anything about which you’re self-conscious. You may attempt to conceal something about yourself that makes you feel ashamed or embarrassed. For example, if you have poor teeth, you may never smile because you never open your mouth. If you’re not proud of your flabby figure, you may go swimming with a t-shirt.
The problem is that attempting to conceal a physical flaw not only draws more attention to it, but it also exposes your insecurities. And that’s much more repulsive than whatever you consider to be a horrible defect. People will see you as self-absorbed, and you will lack the energy to invest in them.
Plus, your attempts to hide your mistake can backfire in a way you didn’t expect. Others may question why you never truly smile since you have poor teeth, and conclude that it’s because you’re unusual and distant.
Making a good first impression is aided by being handsome. Confidence, on the other hand, may actually compensate for a variety of physical flaws. People are attracted to individuals who accept themselves as they are, laugh at their shortcomings, and don’t appear to care. “You make yourself more appealing when you exhibit comfort in your own flesh, and when you express pride rather than shame,” Wood suggests.
The more you anticipate to be liked, the more enticing you will be.
Make an effort to maintain your composure. You often associate composure with debutantes, but it’s a characteristic that helps both men and women. You come across as uneasy if you’re continuously fidgeting – tapping your foot, nibbling your nails, rubbing your moustache, cracking your knuckles, and so on. You become an oasis of serene, stately assurance when you rest in royal silence.
Maintain a nice, balanced posture when standing. Good posture denotes health and self-assurance. You don’t want to be stiff in your posture; you should be standing up straight yet comfortable in your body.
“Balance focuses you and really helps you look visually more balanced and appealing to others,” says Wood. Distribute your weight evenly on each foot.
Men should stand with their feet around 6-8 inches apart to show optimum strength and confidence – taking up space implies power. But don’t let them wander too far apart; when confronted with a danger or conflict, males will expand their stance to 12 inches or more, a posture that appears as overly defensive and aggressive for a social context.
Make eye contact and approach people. Not only are your feet, but your whole lower half, a telling indicator of your genuine sentiments. This is because, as Wood says, “it is the region of the body that has the least conscious control and is the first to react to stress with the freeze-flight-fight-or-faint response.” It’s understandable that we’re nervous when we meet someone for the first time or begin a conversation. We may pause, take a step back, or slump back in retreat.”
Then, to demonstrate confidence, be the one to establish contact with others. Naturally, it’s gratifying to be approached, but people find it much more charming when you walk towards them. Step towards individuals with a kind demeanor and a grin on your face, so that your approach seems amicable rather than frightening. And, rather than fleeing after you’ve started interacting, stand firm, but still respecting other people’s personal space.
Keep an eye on your feet. Even if your feet aren’t literally walking backwards as a result of the fight-or-flight reaction, they may be unconsciously pointing away from the person you’re conversing with and towards an exit, contradicting the impression that you’re confident and present.
Nerves may also lead you to bury your feet beneath your chair or shuffle your feet together when sitting. A decent amount of distance between your dogs, just as while standing, communicates relaxation and confidence, and they seem more confident when planted firmly in front of you.
When you speak, make a gesture. It’s difficult to know what to do with your hands, as Ricky Bobby can confirm. As previously said, you want to keep them open, but letting them hang at your sides might feel odd. As you speak, organically use hand gestures. Not only had it been shown that expressive individuals make others feel more at ease, but it has also been proven that using gestures reduces your inclination to utter “uhhh” and “ummm.”
Interest-Communicating Body Language
Individuals prefer people who are interested in them, which is arguably the most accurate truth of establishing a good first impression. What is the reason behind this? Because interest is always reciprocal. As Wood puts it,
“People are more likely to feel the same way about you if you show them that you are interested in them, like them, and respect them than if they are unaware of your sentiments of attraction.” As a result, if you express interest in someone, you’re more likely to become the focus of his or her attention.”
Interest may be expressed not just by asking a lot of open-ended questions and listening intently as they speak, but also by the way you carry yourself. In certain cases, your actions will be a continuation of what you began to indicate openness, but with a layer of meaning added in the context of conversing.
Continue to grin. Smiles often convey that you’re enjoying the discussion and the company of the other person.
Nod. Men are hesitant to nod because they are concerned that the action signals that they agree with what is being stated. Nodding, on the other hand, does not have to convey “Yes, I agree,” but rather “Yes, I’m listening.”
Lean in close. Leaning indicates that you are paying attention and that you want to be physically and symbolically closer to the person with whom you are conversing. However, you don’t have to sit on the edge of your seat for the whole meal; lean back when the talk swings into lighter lulls and forward when the conversation progresses into deeper and more intimate issues.
Make a good deal of eye contact. “Imagine eye-to-eye contact as a battery charger,” explains Wood. “There is no charge between you until you connect into the other person.” Making a lot of eye contact, on the other hand, is ineffective and may even backfire if done incorrectly. People don’t like being gazed at all the time; it makes them feel uncomfortable. Instead, attempt to maintain eye contact for around 60% of the time throughout a discussion, with roughly every 5 seconds or so glancing away or down at their lips. Here’s a lot more information on how to make proper eye contact.
Face your companion squarely in the eyes (particularly if she’s a woman). Remember how important it is to communicate “heart to heart”? Continue to position yourself so that you’re facing the individual with whom you’re conversing. This improves your bond and allows you to make more eye contact. If you’re talking to a lady, this is extremely crucial; if you’re talking to a male, they may prefer to chat side-by-side. Men’s eye contact is less necessary, and standing side by side might seem less hostile.
Extend your leg but don’t go too far. When you’re sitting, extending your leg out straight in front of you is one of the most disinteresting actions. It might be because it creates a barrier or pushes the other person away.
Touch. In a research in which half of the customers returning a book to the library were touched by the librarian for a fraction of a second and the other half were not, those who were touched liked the librarian and the library more than those who were not. In addition, the touched group said that they were in a better mood overall.
Touch establishes an immediate bond, as well as pleasant emotions of warmth and closeness. It conveys to the individual who has been touched that they are physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually beautiful. It also adds a certain chemistry to interactions.
This is clearly advantageous in potentially romantic situations. A date might seem like a lackluster meeting between friendly friends if there isn’t that spark. First touches — brushed fingertips, a hand extended for assistance in the vehicle, knees clasped at the theater — elicit thrill and hint at the possibility of greater closeness and a deeper connection.
Touch may also be useful in non-romantic situations, such as between people of the same sex and in the workplace. Obviously, at this time of increased sensitivity to sexual harassment, one must step cautiously and adjust one’s gestures to the professional setting. These touches aren’t sexual in nature; rather, they serve as reminders that we are physical people, not just corporate drones. A handshake, a pat on the back, a hand on the shoulder, or even simply a tap to attract someone’s attention or divert it someplace else might help coworkers form a stronger relationship.
Keep an eye on those feet… Feet that move towards the door suggest not just uneasiness, but also a lack of interest. Keep them pointed in the direction of your spouse.
…as well as your crossed arms. Remember that research where those who crossed their arms while listening to a lecture felt more unpleasant and stressed? They also recalled about 40% less of the information given to them. You lose interest in what someone is saying when you put yourself in that protective stance.
You may use these body language skills to present yourself in a way that best showcases your personality and character, making the real you more accessible and appealing to others. Body language practice may help you get out of your own way while establishing a first impression, allowing you to interact more effectively with the new individuals you encounter every day.
Listen to our podcast about creating a good first impression:
For a first impression to be powerful, it must convey power. You can do this by being confident and self-assured. It’s important to remember that the first impression is just that: your first impression. Reference: how to convey power.
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