5 Ways to Nail a First Impression

Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” was initially entitled “First Impressions.” If you’re unfamiliar with the story, it basically outlines how a person’s pride and/or prejudices color their perception of a person. Gradually, the main characters overcome the negative first impressions of each other and the book ends as all Austen stories do (sorry for being a little cryptic...didn’t want to start the post with giant spoilers).

Austen has a knack for depicting the intricacies of human relationships, and “Pride & Prejudice” does a great job of showing just how hard it is to overcome a first impression.  The old adage is true: there really is no second chance to make a first impression. With that in mind, Lifehacker has compiled some great ideas to ensure making a positive first impression no matter the situation. First date, job interview, meeting friends of friends, here are the top things to remember:

1. Be on time

This goes without saying for a job interview, or any scheduled meeting, but also applies to more casual hanging out as well, especially if it’s with new people. Being late can send a message that your time is more valuable than theirs, or that you’re not interested in hanging out with them. Being on time—or within an acceptable timeframe, say 10 minutes either way—is understandable and approachable.

2. Dress/groom accordingly

Going to church with your new significant other?  Invited out to an impromptu dinner at a nice-ish restaurant after mowing the lawn? Take the time to spruce up. Put together some go-to outfits that are versatile and can be dressed up or down, depending on the situation, and easy to slip on. Rule of thumb: it’s way, way, WAY better to be overdressed than underdressed.

3. Be aware of your body language

Emotional intelligence is still a relatively new thing, but there are some definite things you need to be aware of in yourself. For example, I know that my resting face is unfortunately one that rhymes with “ditch face,” so I generally make an effort to keep a light smile on my face in certain company. If you’re in a nervous situation, you might come off as more introverted than you really are. Be mindful of whether you are fidgeting, or showing “closed” behavior (crossed arms and legs).

4. Use their name

It’s also a way to remember their name, so if you run into them at the gas station, you can greet them naturally.  Don’t be overtly obvious about it and say their name at the end of every sentence. Just use it a couple times in the course of the conversation or meeting to make things more personable.

5. Don’t be afraid to show some flaws

Of course you should refrain from telling new acquaintances the story of your life, but you don’t need to look perfect, either. Showing a few flaws makes you more approachable, more honest, and a little less mechanized.  And, take it from me: some flaws can be endearing.

 

So, having made this awesome first impression, where does it go from there? Well, in Austen’s time, it meant waiting for chance meetings or months of writing letters; today, it can equal a casual “friending” on Facebook, Twitter follow, LinkedIn connection...the choices are truly limitless in this day and age, and social etiquette changes for every situation. But that’s enough content for another post altogether.

When you meet new people, what are some of your go-to habits for making a positive impression? How do you make the impression last?