Face the facts: about 90% of the people you’re going to meet at work or in a social environment are going to have a preconceived notion of what type of person you are. We as humans tend to stereotype and judge people based on what they’re wearing, who they’re around, or what they do for a living before we ever talk to them.
This isn’t fair and we all remember the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but it’s a hard truth.
Attracting like-minded people into your world means being honest with yourself as well as with those you’re meeting for the first time. If you’re scared of heights, don’t pretend that you’ve gone rock climbing. Just be honest! After all, your deceit will surely be uncovered and any trust you’ve built up goes straight out the window.
Tips for a Great First Impression
To help make sure you’re always putting your best foot forward in any situation, here are a few tips to follow:
1. When you’re meeting someone new, act as if you’re simply meeting up with a good friend. You’re more likely to be who you really are if you look at a new person as if they’re someone you’re already comfortable with. There’s no advantage in trying to impress someone by being anyone other than yourself.
2. Avoid correcting people’s mistakes when in a casual conversation. Helping a coworker avoid a big mistake on a project at work is admirable but don’t become the office know-it-all during your lunch hour.
3. Make sure that your body language is open and welcoming. Avoid crossing your legs or arms. Stand with your body facing the person with whom you’re speaking. Make eye contact with them, but don’t stare at them. Open body language makes you appear friendly and more people will want to talk to you.
4. Stand up straight. You don’t need to stand as if you have a wrought iron pole in your spine, but don’t slouch. Good posture always provides a much better first impression than slouching over like you’re trying to hide from the world.
5. Keep a positive attitude and outlook. Being pessimistic or the voice of doom and gloom will repel people away from you rather than attract them; however, you don’t want to be overly positive, which could give people the impression that you’re unrealistic or living in a fantasy world.
6. Focus on the people around you and not what’s going on in your head. Be interested in what people are saying and doing around you to avoid appearing egotistical or self-centered.
7. If you know in advance that you’re going to meet a lot of new people, try to rehearse the event in your head. In the movie Next with Nicolas Cage, the character could foresee quite a number of seconds into the future. Before he went up to meet the woman of his dreams, he rehearsed every possible way he could think of to meet her and make the best impression. While you don’t have such powers, you can still rehearse ahead of time!
The bottom line to making a good first impression is to relax and be yourself. You may not be able to win over the world, but you’ll certainly be able to attract like-minded people.