How important are first impressions?

In the marketplace, I believe we would all say that first impressions make a big difference.  But not only are first impressions important with business they are just as important in our personal lives.

First impressions are previews or snippets of the whole.  It is impossible to show a person everything about who you are when you first meet them.  But if you don’t have a first good meeting, research has proven that the likelihood of having a second meeting is slim to none.

My family and I were dining at nice restaurant this past week.  The food was delectable and quite enjoyable.  However, the customer service was unfavorable.  I was my second experience with this restaurant, but it was my family’s first.  The first experience was amazing, but this last experience left a great taste in our mouths but a unpleasant feeling in our hearts.

I will not name the restaurant, but I will give you a gist of what happened.  I have to say the restaurant was super-busy.  We weren’t greeted upon entering into the business establishment.  The supervisor seemed so busy that he did not notice anyone in the restaurant.  His employees did not greet us before we ordered.  The workers were so focused on getting people in and out of the restaurant that they would forget bits and pieces of everyone’s order.  Still without being greeted, the cashier asked what we ordered and we had to tell her what we ordered three times.  After sitting down to eat, we several things missing from our order.  For my wife and kids, it was quite a first impression.

Have you been in this situation before as a consumer?  If so, how did you feel after the experience? 

Virginia-based freelance writer Mark Rowh wrote an article, First Impressions Count, for the American Psychological Association.  In this article Rowh speaks about how first impressions are important in all professions.  In the article he referenced James Uleman, PhD, a pathology professor at New York University and researcher on impression management.  There were two quotes in this article by Uleman that resonated loudly with me.  One quote Uleman said, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”  The other quote he said, “The impression you create may affect future job opportunities, collaborations or other important matters.”

I have always believed in make your first impression count, but it takes intention actions.  How can you make first impressions that count?  Here are 5 strategies to help you make strong and positive impressions in any area of your life.

1.    Be aware.

The more you know about yourself and the person you will be meeting helps you to make a desirable first impression.  Know your tendencies.  If you tend to try to control the conversation, be aware of this and don’t do it.  If you are aware of the person’s name you are speaking with, use their name.  Knowledge is power.  Awareness will make you better prepared to make a great first impression.  It is more about knowing you first, and then it will help you relate to others.

2.    Be curious.

American sociologist, life coach, and best-selling Martha Beck said, “When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.”  Curiosity is a great quality to possess if you plan on making a first impression that counts.  Why?  Because curiosity is being inquisitive, explorative, and investigative.  Making a first impression that counts means being interested in the person you are talking to versus everything being about you.  This mentality will lead to a great conversation.

3.    Be confident.

No one wants to talk to someone who is a “Debbie Downer.”  Others are aware that if you don’t believe in yourself, it will be pretty hard to believe in someone else.  This is why American clergyman and author Norman Vincent Peale articulated, “Believe in yourself!  Have faith in your abilities!  Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” 

4.    Be an active listener.

The Harvard Business Review posted an article, “Listening to People,” by Ralph G. Nichols and Leonard A. Stevens.  Nichols has been deemed as the “Father of Listening.”  Matter of fact, Nichols’ dissertation to receive his PhD dealt with listening behavior’s, which was the first research of its kind during the 1940s.  Stevens is a free-lance writer and a consultant on oral presentation to a number of leading organization.  Nichols and Stevens’ article explains how listening decreases paper work, improves human relations, increases sells, increases your level of ingenuity, and increases your overall level of success.

5.    Be smart about you book cover.

You have always heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  I love this phrase, but the truth of the matter is that whether we agree or not we judge people, business’, commercial’s, snd just about anything else from first impressions.  These first impressions determine whether we give our business to a company or not.  What does this mean?  We need to be careful and smart about what we look like from our dress to our smile to our grooming.

Next time you meet anyone for the first time, make sure you are intentional about making your first impression count.  Give a little thought to the things we mentioned above.  If you are in the profession of formally selling, you will need to definitely look over these points.

How much thought do you put into making a first impression that counts when you first someone?  Please leave a comment below, send me a tweet on Twitter, or leave a comment on Facebook.


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