How to Make a Good First Impression, According to Science
We’ve all been there. You’re about to meet that long-awaited blind date, or maybe you’re interviewing for a job. So much weighs on this moment, and many of us find we fumble under the pressure of hitting it out of the park. Studies suggest that we make snap judgments of individuals within mere fractions of seconds upon first interacting. It may sound unbelievable, but there it is. So, how do you ace the impression and ensure you set out on the right foot? There are several factors that impact the success of a first impression—a good handshake being just the tip of the iceberg. Read on for eight takeaways worth practicing before that next big introduction.
Be aware of your body language when meeting someone, as we pick up on subtle cues and physical signals quickly, and often subconsciously. A genuine smile starts with the eyes, and raised eyebrows communicate discomfort. Also note that when the person you’re speaking with mirrors your body language, you’re usually in good shape. Make sure your legs and arms are not crossed, as this signals being closed off and defensive. And unfurrow that brow—it’s a sign of stress.
People who maintain eye contact are perceived as smarter and more capable. However, do make sure not to take it to the extreme: It can communicate dishonesty or aggression!
From the very first word spoken, we form opinions and assumptions about the person speaking regarding personality, trustworthiness, and intelligence. Tone down any singsongy quality to your voice, and at the end of sentences, be careful not to raise your voice in the manner of a question.
Warmth and trustworthiness tend to be bigger factors of a great first impression than all-out confidence. A good way to do this is by letting the other person speak first, by asking them a question.
Rather than presenting a veneer of perfection, revealing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities can be empowering, so work to establish a connection between you and the person you’re meeting. It also lets the person know that you are empathetic, have a sense of humor, and have humility. All good things!
We all know the drill. Give a nice, firm handshake, but take care not to crush the bones in the other person’s hand!
Studies suggest that passive impressions (e.g., over the phone or via email) are substantially more likely to be perceived as more negative than in-person impressions. Anecdotal evidence supports this—haven’t you ever emailed with someone only to discover he or she is way sweeter and more likeable in person?
What do you think of these tactics? Would you add any to the list? Tell us in the comments.