You only get one chance at a first impression.
And research shows you only get 7 seconds to make it.
That’s right, people make a judgment call about your character in the first 7 seconds of meeting you.
Clearly, that’s not a lot of time to get in someone’s good books. But it doesn’t matter, right? Surely any reasonable person wouldn’t judge you solely on those first 7 seconds? Presumably, their impressions will change over time?
Well, apparently not. First impressions made in the initial seconds of meeting someone will stand the test of time. More damaging still is how the reaction from a first impression lingers down the line, even if the person has forgotten meeting you!
As you can see, first impressions are a big deal. Why is that the case? And what are its implications?
Keep reading to learn all about the importance of first impressions.
The Importance of First Impressions
What’s the impact of a positive first impression? How can it make a difference? Here are some examples of how it may impact your daily life.
Job interviews often come to mind in conversations about first impressions.
After all, with a job on the line, you want to come across as well as possible. It’s horrible to think that the first few seconds could play a part in their decision!
But it is a possibility. Popular jobs often have stiff competition. You could be up against people with more experience and better qualifications. Your first impression could make all the difference.
Making a Sale
Have you ever tried to make a sale?
It isn’t easy. You need to convince someone (often a complete stranger) that it’s in their interest to buy your product or service. Your success in the role is determined by your ability to do so.
The first impression you make will have a major impact. Trust is a major part of it. If you seem fake, or condescending, then a potential customer will turn their back in an instant. You must be confident, warm and professional from the outset.
The Halo Effect
The halo effect is a psychological term. It describes our tendency to equate one positive quality with others.
For example, a good looking person may be judged as trust-worthy and generous.
You see something positive and assume other positive qualities follow. In truth, there may be no connection at all.
Making a good first impression can feed into this. It stands to reason that initial positive judgments lead to assumptions of additional good qualities.
Front of House
Have you ever been frustrated by a receptionist, waiter, or bartender?
Front of house isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to maintain a smile throughout the day. But it definitely makes a difference.
There’s a lot on the line. Any semblance of rudeness will be a reflection on the entire business. In some instances, a customer may refuse to return to an establishment following a bad encounter with a staff member.
Businesses should always encourage positivity, helpfulness and great customer service in their employees.
Making Friends and Networking
First impressions also make or break relationships.
You want to meet people and make friends. Maybe you need to network for your job to attract business leads. Failing to make a positive first impression can make both far harder.
As we know, people hold onto a first impression. It can be tough to overcome a poor initial evaluation! They’ll remember how you made them feel.
What Makes a Positive First Impression?
There are a few key components of a first impression, such as your physical features, which you can’t control. Thankfully, there are others that you can!
Here are a few ways to make a positive first impression.
Looking People in the Eye
Eye contact is important.
Endeavor to make strong eye contact throughout a first meeting. Indeed, one study found that it helps you come across as more intelligent.
Meet someone’s gaze with confidence, and hold it throughout a conversation. But don’t overdo it! Too much eye contact can fast become awkward or even be misconstrued.
Smiling is another important way to make a good first impression.
It is an important component of coming across as trustworthy. Ensure your smile is genuine though. A forced smile is good for no-one! A genuine smile will help you seem sincere.
Shaking hands is often the first port of call in initial interactions.
A firm handshake (but not too firm!) can come across as a sign of professionalism, and confidence. Forgetting to shake hands, or shaking hands in a limp manner can create an instant bad impression.
Prioritizing Your Appearance
We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
But we do.
We have no control over some parts of our physical appearance. These make a difference. For instance, feminine facial features are generally considered more trustworthy.
That means what you can control becomes additionally important. Dress appropriately for the occasion, cover up tattoos where necessary, and be aware of personal hygiene.
Time to Wrap Up
There you have it: the importance of first impressions.
Through some quirk of human psychology, you don’t have long to make a good one. First impressions are made almost instantaneously, and they’ll last for some time too. That’s a lot of pressure.
Unfortunately, a reasonable amount hangs in the balance. As we’ve seen, a positive first impression can make all the difference in a wide array of circumstances. Job interviews, friendships, and business relationships can be at stake! It’s crucial that you learn what it takes to make those first few seconds count.
This information will help in that endeavor! Keep it all in mind and you’ll be making great first impressions in no time at all.
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