“Two things remain irretrievable, Time & First Impression- Cynthia Ozick
Do you want to be remembered as an interesting, charismatic, influential and captivating person or do you want to be remembered as a person who is not so good to be around with or someone who is not interesting or boring. It only takes 3–7 seconds for someone to form an impression of you.
“You only have one chance to create a great first impression”
It sounds very simple right! But there is a lot of science behind it. It’s a Psychological process we go through when we meet someone for the first time. People judge us by what meets their eye. They judge us based on the ABCDE of image management i.e Appearance, Behaviour, Communication, Digital Presence and Etiquette. Make sure you create the right and positive impression when you want to make an impact on people around you, when you want to seal that deal, when you want to crack that interview, or when you want to influence someone.
“ First impressions are fundamental drivers of our relationships” says professor Frank Bernieri of Orego State University. According to him people make reasonably accurate judgement or assessment from observing just a few seconds or a “thin slice” of others behaviour. We decide if we can be friends with them or not, are they interested or likeable, are they friends or a foe, can we trust them and so on. We are visual creatures. We decide if we can take this relationship further or not on the basis of visual information. The image we project through our appearance and behaviour, the way we carry ourselves, the way we walk, talk, sit, stand, our posture, the gestures we make everything is being noticed. We make assumptions on the basis of first impressions about that person and relate everything about them keeping those initial 7 seconds in mind.
So what are the criteria one needs to fulfil to make those 7 seconds count. How can you create a mark and don’t waste those 7 seconds which can get you an opportunity you were looking for, or the job you were eyeing to get or the relationship which you wanted to take it forward or a business deal you wanted to make.
1. Look the part
You need to make sure you are dressed for the occasion you are going to, the role you are playing and the goal you want to achieve. Your clothing communicates messages, make sure you are dressed according to the message you want to send people. Dress keeping in mind where you are going, who are you going to meet, what the occasion is, what impact you want to create. Make sure you look the part and everything about your appearance is taken care of.
2. Groom yourself
Grooming plays a very important role in getting the first impression right. A well groomed person is well received by others. It increases your confidence levels. You are only completely groomed when you are likeable, interesting and appear well put together. Never underestimate how grooming can make or break your image. No matter how perfectly dressed you are in your favourite outfit, if your hair is unkempt, if your nails are chipped, if your outfit is not ironed or has stains on it, the impression you create will not be in your favour.
3. Carry yourself with panache
Look smart and carry yourself with panache. Everything about your clothing and grooming should look well put together and flawless. When you carry yourself well it projects a right image of you in front of others. When you enter the room, or on stage, or going for an interview, be confident, look graceful and smile with all your heart. When you walk tall with a smile on your face, confidence in your stride and elegantly dressed and groomed you are sure to create lasting first impressions.
4. Eye contact
Never miss an eye contact when you meet someone and introduce yourself. It shows that you are confident and have a very strong personality. It makes you look attractive and charismatic. You must have heard the age old saying “Eyes are the windows of the soul” is true. When you want others to remember what you are saying, communicate looking into their eyes, find their gaze and hold it, but remember not to stare at them. If you find it difficult to look into the eyes directly, look between both the eyes. The impact is the same.
5. Open body posture
Body language communicates a lot about our thoughts and feelings. Open body posture makes you appear credible, trustworthy and honest. Walk with confidence, shoulders relaxed not drooping, make open palm gestures while talking, you will come across as authentic and friendly. People will trust and believe you very easily. Research shows 55% of what we communicate is non verbal, our body language speaks before we even do. Before even you open your mouth people have formed an impression of you.
6. Be on time
Time management is a life hack. The habit of being punctual demonstrates respect, integrity, honesty and credibility. Being late is a sign of arrogance, it shows you are not interested in meeting someone. Being on time means being there 5–10 mins early, it shows that you have taken efforts to be there and this meeting is important to you. Time is precious, once gone it’s never going to come back, so manage your time wisely and impress others by being there on time, by promptly replying to emails, calls and messages, by keeping your promise, by respecting and valuing others time and presence.
7. Be present
Finally be present in the moment. Be incharge of your appearance, body language, etiquette and mannerisms. Be present with your body, mind and soul. There is a Japanese term called “ICHIGO ICHI’ which translates “In this moment, an Opportunity” means that each meeting, everything we experience is a unique treasure and never be repeated, so be present in the moment and never leave an opportunity which can help you in achieving your goals.
So to be influential, build your personal brand by creating lasting first impressions. You need to make a brand for yourself, because your personal brand is what differentiates you from others. I encourage you to be authentic, to be unique, to be the best version of yourself and make each moment count by giving your best shot.