Did you know that people decide whether they like, trust and respect you within the first few seconds?
Think about it. You do it too.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic partner, job hunting or just looking to socialize, making a great first impression is very important. But what usually happens when you meet someone for the first time (especially if it’s someone you have already "decided" is important to you is that you’re too focused on yourself (how you feel, how you look, what you’ll say...) and that you don’t pay so much attention to the person you’re talking to.
And here’s what that person will look for when they see you (consciously or not) – hopefully it will make you aware of these things more in the future, and win the hearts and minds in the first 30 seconds:
1. Is there anything threatening about you?
You might not be aware of it, but some of your immediate signals could trigger a fight-or-flight response and that’s bad because every single one of us makes unconscious immediate appraisals centering around how safely we feel.
It’s just instinct, so be mindful of your body language, it accounts for more than half of what other people respond to immediately. Try to signal attention and an open heart, but keep the eye contact.
2. Invading another person’s personal space?
Boundaries of others are something you need to remember to respect. Don’t come too close, but don’t hold yourself like you’re running away from them.
In fact, the best way to be sure is to follow the other person’s cues - stand back when they stand back, and if they lean in, you do the same.
- Live up to their expectations
If you know that the other person knows about you, then they’ll probably have some expectations, an image they’ve created in their minds – from your reputation, or from the emails you’ve exchanged. The first time they encounter you in person isn’t the best time to show them a new side to your personality – they expect consistency with that general image, otherwise they’re disappointed and confused.
So stay consistent to your role, at least for a while.
4. Keep control of your mood and attitude
Just like you’re drawn to warm, enthusiastic and confident people, so are the others. None of us likes to approach someone who’s angry, impatient or arrogant, so try managing your responses no matter what’s going on around you.
A simple trick to this is to project just the opposite to how you feel: if you’re unenthusiastic, project positivity, if you’re nervous, project calm.
Making yourself project just the opposite of how you feel can sometimes be more efficient than trying to persuade yourself that you’re OK: you can "decide" that those people hold you accountable for your attitude (without telling them, of course ;) ) and influence your own mood at the same time.
5. Make them count
People don’t like you to show them that you’d rather be somewhere else. Be curious, open-minded and interested, keep the other person talking, ask questions...
Treat every person you meet as if they’re the most important people on the planet. You can do it for 30 seconds, no harm there.
Frankly, you never know – they might end up actually becoming very important :)