Three Ways to Make a Positive First Impression

Posted onCategoriesPresentation Effectiveness

Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”  Whether meeting new customers, employers, prospects or team members, it is critical to make a positive, memorable first impression.  The latest research shows you only have a tenth of a second to make a first impression. 

As you attend graduation parties, weddings and other summer celebrations, start practicing the following ways to make a positive first impression.

Mind your body language.  The first step in making a positive first impression is to use your body language to communicate effectively.  Even if you’ve mastered a firm handshake and solid eye contact, you can still use your non-verbal communication to convey information.  For example, leaning in when you talk shows that you are making a sincere effort to engage the other person.  Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle is, ‘Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.’  Making appropriate facial expressions in response to what the other person says shows that you are actively listening. Human beings want to be heard, so use your body language in addition to your verbal communication to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the other person—Mr. Carnegie’s 4th principle.

Certain behaviors convey mixed or negative messages.  By developing a strong self-awareness, you can train yourself to avoid such behaviors.  These include tapping; pacing; checking your smart phone or watch frequently; looking around at other people instead of the person to whom you are introducing yourself; excessive blinking and invading the other person’s personal space.

Make every word count.  Have you ever struck up a conversation with someone new only to regret it upon learning she was a ‘Debbie Downer?’  Misery loves company, however refrain from using negative language—especially when meeting someone for the first time.  Positive and persuasive words help make other people feel comfortable around you.  The more engaged and comfortable the other person is, the higher the likelihood he or she will remember you and may even open doors for you in the future. 

Dress to impress.  What does your daily wardrobe say about you?  Most people dress conservatively for a job interview to make a positive first impression.  Frank Bernieri, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University, commented in a Forbes article about dressing for interview success, “Dressing conservatively means you care on a couple of different dimensions…One, you’re making an effort; two, you’re making an effort not to offend; three you’re polite and respectful.” 

The way you carry yourself on a daily basis is equally important.  In fact, according to a Science Daily study, participants were more likely to make judgments based solely on appearance when they had less time to make a decision.  Dale Carnegie’s 19th Human Relations principle is, ‘Appeal to noble motives.’  To improve others’ first impressions of you, be sure to dress your best every day.