When trying to make a good first impression, it's only natural to focus on coming across as interesting, impressive, and likable, but according to best-selling author and associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University David Burkus, this may be misguided. Instead, he suggests that the number one way to make a great first impression is to be authentically interested in the person you're meeting, according to an article he penned for Psychology Today.
Whether you're making the rounds at a networking event, going on a first date, or grabbing drinks with a new co-worker, mastering the art of the first impression is an important part of fostering the relationships you want—in your professional and personal life. Unfortunately, you can't fake it, according to Burkus. "You've got to be authentically interested," he writes.
This idea is based on a lesson taught by author and teacher Jim Collins, Burkus explains. A mentor advised that Collins spend more time focusing on his students rather than trying to impress them. "Collins' mentor knew that our natural inborn human psychological desires are often to be interested in ourselves, and so if you share that same interest, you become a fast friend," he writes.
So just how do you portray that you're authentically interested in someone? It's rather simple, actually. All you have to do is ask people questions about themselves and really care about their answers. "Ask them what they do and why they love it," Burkus advises. Inquire about their hobbies, habits, family, and childhood.
Although easier said than done, try to stay present and actively listen. Instead of thinking about how you're coming across to a new acquaintance, really pay attention to what they're saying so that you can continue the conversation and learn from what they share with you. Then, follow up with "why" or "tell me more" if you're genuinely interested in what they're talking about.
It seems as though the key to appearing interesting is to be interested in others. Try out this tactic next time you meet someone new to make a memorable first impression.