From First Impression to Unforgettable

The time between first contact to first impression is about seven seconds. Seven seconds of lightning speed analysis to figure out if we are trustworthy, likeable, capable, standoffish, aloof, arrogant, friendly … geez!

First impressions happen fast, but with the right know-how, seven seconds is all that’s needed to make sure you’re remembered for all the right reasons. Here’s how:

  1. It begins with the approach.

    Assume that people already like you. Relax, step forward and smile.

  2. Now boost it.

    With humility. The mindset: You’re the fortunate one to be meeting this person. The action: Tilt your head slightly towards them and raise your eyebrows a little. Raising your eyebrows communicates acknowledgement and recognition. Relationships flourish when people are themselves. Humility lays the ground beautifully for people to do just that.

  3. Make eye contact.

    And when you do, take a second or two longer to notice the colour of their eyes. It enriches contact and makes way for people to feel seen. In a room full of strangers, this will make a difference. 

  4. Be deliberate with your attitude.

    People will immediately pick up on attitude so be fully aware and in control of the one you cast. If the right attitude feels impossible to muster up for real (it happens) try ‘acting as though’. Take a moment to get into the headspace you’d be in if you were competent, confident, humble. You don’t have to feel it to put it out there. There’s a time for pretending – and this is it.

  5. Touch. Not too much though. And from the right distance. (Oh! So many rules!)

    Touch is powerful when used well and appropriately, even if it’s just in a handshake. From the outset though, let’s be clear that the touch has to be not-threatening, not-sleazy, not-invasive and not-heavy-handed. So what’s left then? Warm and affirming. Think of it as an extension of a handshake. Touch can instantly close a gap between people but it’s important that it’s done respectfully and sensitively – try briefly on the upper arm or shoulder. One more thing – be mindful of personal space and touch from a respectful distance.

  6. Move the conversation past smalltalk.

    Small talk is important to establish a connection, but nobody is remembered for their in depth analysis about ‘the weather we’re having lately’. The subject everyone is most expert on is themselves, so ask questions that encourage this. A common question is, ‘What do you do?’. Take the conversation deeper by asking the what/where/how/why of that (or anything else that comes up). What do they like the most/least. Why did they choose that path? Would they do it again? Why? Why not? It’s not an interview, but asking people about themselves provides the opportunity for them to be an expert and lets them know you’re interested – which makes you interesting. Asking the right questions shows attentiveness, interest and respect. And who doesn’t want that?

  7. Be a little bit vulnerable.

    None of us are have it all figured out. Vulnerability communicates trust and humility (there’s that word again). Nobody is suggesting that you run your life’s disasters by somebody you’ve known for five minutes, but understand that though people may be momentarily impressed by those who have it all together, it’s more likely that they’ll relate to the ones who don’t. Be impressed, be humble, and don’t be afraid to be a little bit self-depracating. The most charming people are the ones who are comfortable with their humanity and let people know it. Be real and be genuine. People aren’t stupid and will see straight through anything else, though some will take longer to see through it than others.

Everybody wants to matter, everybody wants to be liked. Remember that and trust that it’s in you to leave a brilliant first impression.

2 Comments

Holly H

I would be fascinated to read thoughts on how to create the first few seconds good impression over the phone. I speak over the phone consultatively for a living and to be trustworthy, likable, and capable is the person I strive to be every day. How can I best communicate that by voice-only? Thank you!

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Hey Sigmund

Hi Holly. Speaking over the phone can be so much harder to give a good first impression than in person can’t it, but there are things you can do. The first might sound weird – but it works – and it’s backed by research which is always a good thing! Try assuming a confident pose when you talk. If you’re seated, sit straight, open up your body, head up. If you sit strong, you’ll feel strong and that’s how you’ll come across. The second is to get your breathing under control before you call to reverse any stress that might come from anticipation of the call. It also helps you to slow down and to sound stronger when you speak. The third is to smile. Even though people can’t see you, when you smile it comes across in your voice, helping you to sound more approachable and likeable from the outset. Hope this helps.

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The move towards brave doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a shuffle - lots of brave tiny steps, each one more brave than before. What’s important isn’t the size of the step but the direction.

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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #neuronurtured #anxiety #anxietyinchildren
You know who I love? (Not counting every food delivery person who has delivered takeaway to my home. Or the person who puts the little slots in the sides of the soy sauce packets to make them easier to open. Not counting those people.) You know who? Adolescents. I just love them. 
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Today I spoke with two big groups of secondary school students about managing anxiety. In each talk, as there are in all of my talks with teens, there were questions. Big, open-hearted, thoughtful questions that go right to the heart of it all. 
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Some of the questions they asked were:
- What can I do to help my friend who is feeling big anxiety?
- What can I do to help an adult who has anxiety?
- How can I start the conversation about anxiety with my parents?

Our teens have big, beautiful, open hearts. They won’t always show us that, but they do. They want to be there for their friends and for the adults in their lives. They want to be able to come to us and talk about the things that matter, but sometimes they don’t know how to start. They want to step up and be there for their important people, including their parents, but sometimes they don’t know how. They want to be connected to us, but they don’t want to be controlled, or trapped in conversations that won’t end once they begin. 

Our teens need to know that the way to us is open. The more they can feel their important adults holding on to them - not controlling them - the better. Let them know you won’t cramp them, or intrude, or ask too many questions they don’t want you to ask. Let them know that when they want the conversation to stop, it will stop. But above all else, let them know you’re there. Tell them they don’t need to have all the words. They don’t need to have any words at all. Tell them that if they let you know they want to chat, you can handle anything that comes from there - even if it’s silence, or messy words, or big feelings - you can handle all of it. Our teens are extraordinary and they need us during adolescence more than ever, but this will have to be more on their terms for a while.  They love you and they need you. They won’t always show it, but I promise you, they do.♥️
Sometimes silence means 'I don't have anything to say.' Sometimes it means, 'I have plenty to say but I don't want to share it right here and right now.' We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety are thoughtful, observant and insightful, and their wisdom will always have the potential to add something important to the world for all of us.

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Rather than talking to them about what they can’t do (and they’ll probably want to talk about this a lot - that’s what anxiety does), ask them what they can do. It doesn’t matter how small the step is, as long as it’s forward.
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The idea is to gradually and gently expose them to the things that feel frightening. This is the only way to re-teach the amygdala that it’s safe. Let them know you understand it feels scary - they need to know you feel what they feel and that you get it. This will make your belief in them and your refusal to support avoidance more meaningful. Then move them towards brave.
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This can be tough. To move our children towards the things that are causing them distress pushes fiercely against our instincts as a parent - but - supporting avoidance, overprotecting, over-reassuring, the things we do that unintentionally accommodate anxiety over brave behaviour will only feed anxiety and make it more resistant to change. (And as a parent I’ve done all of these things at some time - we’re parents, not perfect, and parental love has a way of drawing us all in to unhelpful behaviours in the name of protecting our kiddos). .
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The point is, moving our children towards brave behaviour can feel awful, but it’s so important. When they focus on the fear and what they can’t do, try, ‘Okay, I know this feels scary. I really do. I also know you can do this. I understand this step feels too big, so what little step can you take towards it? What can you do that is braver than last time?’

 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
We can’t decide the lessons our children learn and we can’t decide when they learn them, but we can create the space that invites the discovery. We can do this by making it safe for them to speak, and to wander around their own experiences so the lessons and wisdom can emerge.
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