When initiating relationships with others, we are greatly influenced by our first impressions of them. You often hear people saying things like, “I am not sure why I just do not like her/him”. In most of these instances, the two people have never even interacted at a personal level. Perhaps they talked briefly at a party or at a meeting and they just did not hit it off.
In your personal life, you can easily decide to brush off a person you do not like and even ignore them entirely. At a professional level, however, how high you rise and the kind of opportunities that you get are greatly influenced by the kind of relationships you have. This is why it is important that you make a great first impression.
Like all other soft skills, making great first impressions is a skill that you must cultivate. Here is how this can be achieved.
Be you: Authenticity is everything
Authenticity means that you let your light shine through. It means genuinely being interested in the connection, sharing your views and any ideas that you may have. However, authenticity also means being mindful and accepting of other’s beliefs and opinions. Do not try to impose your view on others in a bid to make them think that you are superior.
But what exactly is authenticity? Authenticity has been severally defined, but here is one of our favorite definitions: “ the practice of embracing who you are and not who we are supposed to be as defined by society”. To be authentic, you must be self-aware: know your strengths, weaknesses, talents, skills, beliefs, values and interests.
Be warm and interested
This is a basic rule of interactions. Show that you are interested in the people that you are interacting with by asking relevant questions about their lives and their work. Remember not to ask very personal questions. As a rule of thumb, your facial expressions should be friendly. Try smiling as much as you can so that the other person feels at ease interacting with you.
Do not make it all about you
When we meet people for the first time, we may be tempted to make it all about us. In a bid to impress, we can go on and on about our bevy of accomplishments. This can be off-putting. The reason why it is called an interaction is because all parties involved are exchanging ideas. So, do not get tempted to spend two minutes talking about yourself. Instead, respond to questions that you have been and give others a chance to talk about themselves. If you realize that the other party is asking too many questions, you could say something like, “how about you, tell me a little about you.”
A great many of us get nervous when we are meeting people for the first time. It is therefore important that you take precautions to numb the nerves and to foster confidence. How you do this depends on the kind of interaction that you are going to engage in. If it is a professional platform, you might want to make a small list of some of the topics that may come up and research about them to make sure that you are informed during the discussion. You might also want to research the people you are likely to meet and their possible interests. Other tips for relaxing include yoga, tea, getting lots of sleep, and exercising, among others.
Everyone is interesting. That statement might raise a few eyebrows but the fact of the matter is that everyone has something interesting about them that is simply waiting to be let out. According to scienceofpeople.com, here is a list of things that you must do to become more interesting:
- Stop doing uninteresting things and sticking to routines. Interesting people break out of the everyday mold.
- Stop asking uninteresting questions like:
- What do you do?
- How are you?
- Questions about the weather
- Questions about what TV shows people are watching
- Ask questions like:
- What are your dreams and how much have you accomplished?
- What book or movie has had the greatest impact on your life?
- What new skill are you learning?
- What drives you? What kind of passions do you have?
- Where do you see yourself in the next four years?
- Hang out with interesting people that encourage you to talk about interesting things.