How to Make a Great First Impression

by Henrik Edberg

First impressions can be quite important.

Everyone stereotypes everyone on first impression, even if we are reluctant to do it.

We all get a first impression of a new person that creates a mental image of his or her personality in our minds.

That image of you often lasts and can affect the relationship that follows.

Another thing is that we often play different roles in relationships. With our parents we play one role, with friends another, with someone we are interested in/in love with a third, when shopping for clothes in a store a fourth. And so on.

A good or great first impression can create a positive role in the minds of the new people we meet. When we meet them again, we are often drawn back into this role. Sometimes it happens almost unconsciously until you after a few minutes notice that you have fallen into your old role – like when you meet friends you haven´t seen in years – in that dynamic once again. You may not always be drawn into that role. But if you do it sure is better to have a positive than a negative role saved for you.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about improving first impressions. Of course, different environments like business meetings with suits and ties or parties with umbrella-drinks come with different goals and expectations so figure out what´s appropriate and useful in each meeting.

Act as if you are meeting a good friend
If you just imagine that the person you have just met and are talking to is one of your best friends you’ll probably adjust unconsciously and start to smile, open up your body-language to a very friendly and warm position and reduce any nervousness or weirdness in your tone of voice and body-language. Don´t overdo it though, you might not want to hug and kiss right away.

The nice thing about this is that you may also start to feel positive feelings towards this new person, just as you do with your friend when you meet him/her. This is a pretty good starting-point for getting them to reciprocate and for developing a good relationship.

Keep you body language open
Smile. Don’t cross your arms or legs. Turn your body towards the people you’re are shaking hands with or talking to so that your body language is friendly and open. Make relaxed eye contact – don´t stare – when talking or listening. Don´t look the person in the eye all the time. When you break eye-contact try to do it kinda slow, don´t let your eyes just dart away. Making eye-contact can be a bit hard or scary but if you work at it you´ll get used to it.

For more tips, you may want to have a look at 18 Ways to Improve Your Body Language.

Stand up straight
Keeping a good posture certainly improves on the impression one makes. Don´t slouch. Sit or stand up straight.

Be positive
Sometimes you can go in all positive in a first meeting. Sometimes it may not be the best approach to go in too positive as it can be seen as bit abrasive or inappropriate. A better way to convey a positive attitude in a first meeting can then be to read the mood of person(s) before you start talking – by just watching them – and then match it for a short while. Then – when you have an emotional connection and the other person feels you are similar to him/her – you can let your positivity arise a bit more.

Regardless if you start out positive from the get-go or a short, short while into the meeting, be sure to positive. If you, for instance, start a first meeting by complaining, there´s a big chance the people you meet will mentally label you as a complainer or a negative person.

Don’t think too much
Try, as much as possible, to stay outside of your head and focus on the people you are talking to rather than focusing on yourself.

Mentally rehearse before you even enter the room
Visualize how great the events will unfold – see and hear it – and also how great will you feel at this meeting.

See yourself smiling, being positive, open and having a great time. See the excellent outcome in your mind. Then release by visualizing that it has already happened, that the meeting is over with the desired result. This is surprisingly effective and will get you into a great and relaxed mood before even stepping into the first, second or twentieth meeting.

You may also want to check out the ever-popular Do you make these 10 mistakes in conversation? for more information on stuff like listening, hogging the spot-light, what to talk about (and not to talk about) and the very common need to be right.

What you say isn´t that important
I´d say that mental rehearsal followed by acting as if you´re meeting a friend are the most important parts of all of this. They often solve the rest of pointers in this article unconsciously and automatically and keeps your thoughts focused outwards instead of inwards.

The problem with an inward-focused meeting – where you focus on what you just said, how you look and what the other person thinks of you right now – can reduce anyone to a bumbling, second-guessing, fidgeting shadow of their former self as the self-consciousness becomes almost paralyzing.

Also, as long as you try to use the first and the last point it doesn’t really matter too much what word or phrase you use to start the conversation. The words are only 7 percent of your communication. 93 percent is in your tone of voice and your body-language.

So, a simple “Hi!” may do just fine.





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{ 32 comments }

joshy March 16, 2007 at 1:01 pm

nice article………..

Scott March 16, 2007 at 3:34 pm

These are all very proactive (and very good) tips. I especially agree on “don’t think too much.”

One tip that I’d like to add is the importance of watching body language – you can usually tell what kind of impression you are making by the other person’s body language. If they are recoiling from you or making defensive gestures (folded arms, stepping back) you might be coming on too strong. If their body language is open, i.e., arms to the side, head tilted, you are making a good impression.

Bruce March 16, 2007 at 7:41 pm

Thank you for making me think!

One thing is also true of the first time we meet people – we don’t have ideas, opinions, likes and dislikes of them. They are free to be themselves. Not so the second time. We form these opinions and people get boxed that way, ‘wasn’t he talkative’, ‘wasn’t she in a bad mood’. Then we expect that next time. I love the following ideas to counter this:

Meet others as if for the first time.
The person in front of you is your teacher.
Giving this person your full attention is the most loving act.

Experiments worth trying?

Bruce.

Loving Annie March 18, 2007 at 5:20 pm

Second post I’ve read here now, and I really like what you have to say !
I’m going to add you to my links, and am looking forward to reading more — and acting on what I read !
Have a good Sunday.
Sincerely,
Loving Annie

Henrik Edberg March 18, 2007 at 7:51 pm

joshy and Loving Annie: Thanks a lot.

Scott: Thank you for mentioning that excellent body language tip. Being able to read the other person´s body language – or even bothering with it – can be very useful to see what´s really going on behind the words.

Bruce: Your three suggestions are excellent too and can be very useful to keep in mind and to try to improve relationships. I especially like your first suggestion about meeting someone as if for the first time. Wonderful idea.

Bob March 19, 2007 at 6:07 am

Great tips. I guess it’s too much thinking that made me creat some bad impressions on some people. I tend to think of things when I’m in a conversation. I kept on thinking of different responses.

Michael M March 19, 2007 at 10:40 am

Starting from this article I think that another interesting article would be “How to change an impression”.I know that I’m not the only one who want an article like this. :)

Henrik Edberg March 19, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Bob: Thank you. Thinking too much is very common and I do it too (although a lot less than I did before).

Michael M: Thank you for the suggestion. I´ve written it down and will think about it and then we´ll see what happens.

Danni March 20, 2007 at 4:29 am

Great ideas. This could certainly help lots of people with bad first impression. I know a lot of them who needs it. I think they are too negative about the things they talk about. They keep on showing negative insights about a certain topic.

Henrik Edberg March 20, 2007 at 11:50 am

Thank you for the comment, Danni. I really appreciate it.

Kristof April 2, 2007 at 9:52 pm

Hi

Great post. It helped me in coaching someone.

http://leadingyouup.blogspot.com

K

Duncan April 19, 2007 at 12:57 am

Nice article.

I’d also add ‘ask lost of questions’. It shows that you’re listening and are more interest in what they have to say than what you have to say to them.

Oh, and ‘be enthusiastic’… always helps.

nikhil April 27, 2007 at 7:54 am

all are important and very useful tips.love them .working to improve my self as a person.
thank you .

madhu malla May 20, 2007 at 2:31 pm

it is quite good n usefull also
but how ever it is usefull to all

vikash chhoker October 2, 2007 at 8:21 pm

nice article

gamermk November 29, 2007 at 1:26 am

Great info, now if only I could break the habit of always crossing my feet. It’s weird I try to sit normally and I just end up tucking my feet together under my chair. It’s so natural that I don’t even notice myself doing it.

Craig March 11, 2008 at 6:02 pm

I find the tip about acting as if you are meeting a good friend incredibly useful. It allows you to feel immediately comfortable.

With a best friend, it’s ok to say something silly. In fact, it is encouraged.

With a best friend, you actually care about the little details of their life.

And with a best friend, hanging around for chit chat or going out to lunch is a perfectly acceptable suggestion.

Apply these same characteristics to a conversation with a new person, and positive things are going to happen. They will immediately feel more comfortable in your presence and look forward to seeing you again.

Great post!

Salma J. Khan April 11, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Thank you.

Points stated above were good and worth a try, but I guess……. we missed out on many other points like…..

1. Never behave in your usual way, just as you do with your friends …… but try to be a bit more formal and mannered.

2. Don’t be too much interested in his/her talks at the first meet, he/she mite have a wrong impression about you……

I have lots more in mind…. will post ‘em at a later date.

yossi May 18, 2008 at 1:44 pm

not less important. we dont need the job more than she needs someone to do it. we’ll find another job or mate if this one wouldn’t work out. it’s a win-win or lose-lose situation. we both win or both lose. I don’t have to pretend I’m someone else. I am as good as I am. this doesn’t mean I have to be rude or dirty.

Linda May 21, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Very interesting tips. Am off for an interview tomorrow……and I like the part about mental rehearsal….will let you know if it works!

wish me luck. ciao

Vanessa August 25, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I always think about completely different things when speaking to someone, first impression or not. I can still focus on what they’re saying, but other thoughts roll in and out. How do I fix this? I start mentioning whatever comes to mind, because I can’t think of an answer, even when I know what the question is, and it seems very rude. =/

Anonymous September 2, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Great article accept they should put something about being yourself cuz if someone doesn’t like you for who you are then there is no point trying just ignore them if they aren’t saying anything nice but don’t act snobbish!

Anonymous September 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm

im trying to get a nice blog
like my friend she has this aewsome blog
with these big words
when will i come up with them words lol

candida l. firmza September 25, 2008 at 6:57 am

May I request for the downloading of other articles related to tips on how to gain positive impression

Hannah October 23, 2008 at 6:47 am

Thank you so much for this whole blog! It is fantastic and full of information that I need in my life right now.

I will be devouring this daily until full absorption has been reached!

Grégoire November 5, 2008 at 10:38 pm

There’s an ”r” missing at ”Keep you body language open”.

Kamaljeet mehta November 6, 2008 at 2:48 pm

hey this article is very intersting
so i want to say every reader to follow these tips
these tips r valuable
and make ur impression in front of anyone

Marla June 26, 2009 at 8:11 am

Awesome article! My first impression is in a few days. Thank you for they tips, and wish me luck!

max August 20, 2009 at 5:40 am

always be confidant you should always show you have knowledge about all.

Anurag Sharma October 26, 2009 at 10:17 am

This is a very nice article especially the mental rehearsal part is very good . Thank you and keep it up

Ahsin June 2, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I like that very much. In every work when start by man make its impressions on his upper to become a prominent in company or office.I learn many tips from there thanks.

http://mixxmind.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-is-first-impression-philosophy-of.html

FORTUNE AFATAKPA August 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm

YOUR ARTICLES ARE GREAT.WHY?THEY ARE BASED.WE ARE HAVING CHALLENGES TODAY IN OUR SOCIETY BECAUSE WE HAVE LOST OUR SENSE OF VALUES.UNTIL WE RETURN VALUED BASED SENSITIZATION WE ARE GOING NO WHERE AS A SOCIETY.I AM PROUD TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH YOU.
KEEP THE GOOD RESEARCH WORK ON.

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