25 Surefire Ways to Make a Good First Impression Every Time
Warning: Do not eat onions before strolling into HR.
Believe it or not, it only takes one-tenth of a second to make a first impression. In the blink of an eye, we make judgments on a person’s likability, attractiveness, competence, and even trustworthiness, without so much as knowing their name. Less than one second feels like hardly any time to make a lasting first impression, but there are ways to ensure that the first time you meet someone isn’t your last.
So long as you brush your teeth, dress to the nines, and keep all of these great tips in mind, you’ll dazzle everyone you meet. And to ensure you definitely don’t make a bad impression, be sure to avoid these 20 Subtly Sexist Things People Still Say at Work.
Scrub Your Online Presence
In the age of the internet, a first impression often starts with a good old Instagram stalking session. And we aren’t just talking about Tinder dates here—scientists at Ghent University found that job applicants with the most favorite Facebook profile picture (determined by attractiveness and personality traits) were 40 percent more likely to be invited to a job interview than those with an unflattering photo.
“Research suggests that the impression someone gives on Facebook reflects his real personality rather than some form of self-idealization,” Professor Stijn Baert told Science Daily. It’s not just for work purposes, either. If you’re going on a date soon, you can bet that your new potential love interest has done all of his or her due diligence. So open up your profiles and make sure you’re not making these 20 Social Media Mistakes.
Bond Over Burgers
People tend to be fond of those that feed them, and there’s even some science to back this up. Researchers at Yale University discovered that giving someone food triggers a “momentary mood of compliance toward the donor.” Of course, we aren’t suggesting you use food to trick someone into liking you, but a person’s stomach is usually the way to their heart.
Come Prepared with Fun Facts
Though you should always “be yourself,” it’s important to remember that you should always be prepared. If you’re meeting a potential new boss, make sure you have a few talking points on his industry. If you’re meeting your boyfriend’s parents, come bearing a few questions that make you seem interesting.
And if you’re hitting a party, prepare in advance by knowing some amazing trivia. Nobody is going to soon forget the guy who knew offhand the history of sliced bread. Need help? Try throwing these random and hard-to-believe fun facts into the conversation.
We’re given little to work with before we meet someone for the first time, but one thing we do know is that person’s name—so take that information and run with it.
“We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing and nobody else,” Dale Carnegie wrote in Understanding Human Behavior. Translation: People love their own names, and using them in a conversation adds a sense of intimacy.
Sustain Your Attention at First
When you meet someone for the first time, make a conscious effort not to check your phone or look bored. According to Smart Dating Academy president Bela Gandhi, “nothing is more seductive than a totally present listener.” Even something as little as looking over a person’s shoulder can taint their first impression of you, Gandhi warned on Today.
Imagine Them Liking You Before You Meet Them
If you expect someone to like you, then they are more likely to—it’s really that simple. So you should exude confidence. One Belgian study found that subjects who anticipated being accepted behaved more warmly and in turn were more well received by their peers. In other words, be like LeBron James, who imagines himself holding the trophy before the big game even starts.
Do a Sniff Test
You can pick out your outfit days in advance, print out dozens of flawless résumés, and even get your hair blown out, but if you eat a slice of garlicky pizza before your big interview, you may as well kiss that job goodbye. Why? A study of 65 volunteers found that the scent of onions is more associated with dirty “manliness,” whereas the scent of lemon corresponds to cleanliness and pleasant feelings.
And Opt for a Floral Perfume
Just like a potential employee won’t soon forget the smell of onion in the air, neither will they forget the sweet scent of a floral perfume.
Researchers from Rutgers University found that when there was a floral scent in the air, subjects used three times as many happiness-related words to write about life events compared to when there was no fragrance in the air. “Floral odors promote social interaction [and] social approach kinds of behavior,” professor Jeannette Haviland-Jones told Live Science.
Zero in on Their Passion—and Quickly
One of the best ways to ensure someone remembers you is by conversing on a subject the two of you are passionate about. “I’ve found that the key to a lasting first impression is to discuss a topic that both you and the person care about, ask insightful questions to better understand their point of view, and then provide a new perspective on their thinking based on your own experiences,” Weebly cofounder Dan Veltri told Inc. “This not only shows the person that you’re listening, but also provides them with lasting value.”
People usually opt to wear something simple to a job interview, perhaps something along the lines of a white collared skirt paired with grey slacks. But for your next interview, you may want to try adding a burst of color: Scientists at University Hospital South Manchester surveyed hundreds of adults and found that yellow was chosen as the color most likely to catch the eye. (On the other hand, those subjects who were anxious or depressed associated their mood with shades of gray.)
Keep the Conversation on Them, Not You
It’s not just serial narcissists that enjoy talking about themselves. Harvard University scientists found that when we talk about ourselves, we trigger the same pleasure in the brain that we get from food or money. Allowing someone you just met to share details about their life with you will put them in a positive mindset, ensuring a great first impression. No wonder therapists make so much money!
Save the gossiping and bad-mouthing for vent sessions with your best friend. Research shows that when we complain about someone, the person to whom we are complaining unconsciously associates us with the negative characteristics we’re describing. Conversely, pointing out the positive characteristics of other people will paint you in a good light with a new friend or potential boss. While you’re at it, make sure to also avoid these 15 Answers That Will Tank Any Job Interview.
Maintain Your Eye Contact
Sometimes it’s not so much what we say as it is how we say it, especially when we’re getting to know someone new. One joint study between the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling found that when participants made eye contact during a video call, they had better recollection of what was spoken about.
Meet in a Coffee Shop, Specifically
Looking for a first date idea? We recommend meeting up for a nice cup of Joe. Why? Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that subjects reported “significantly higher levels of positive affect” when the smell of coffee was in the air.
In a Foul Mood? Don’t Even Try It
If you’re in a bad mood before you meet up with someone for a first date, it isn’t going to miraculously disappear. As Vanessa Van Edwards of the Science of People wrote on her blog: “If you are in a depressed or anxious mood, others will pick up on this from your facial expressions, comments, and body language.” Instead of ruining your chance to make a good first impression, reschedule your date for a day when you’re feeling better.
Go Light on the Makeup
Ladies, go for a more natural look when you’re meeting a big client for the first time. Why? Research shows that women are perceived as better leaders when they aren’t wearing makeup by men and women alike. Instead of covering your face with makeup, focus on these 30 Ways to Have Your Best Skin.
Let your posture do all the talking in your next job interview. According to a study published in Psychological Science, practicing “posture expansiveness”—in which you open up the body to occupy more space—makes you come off as more confident and authoritative to both yourself and those around you. Stand tall, and you’ll come out on top.
Make Like a Parrot and Repeat
We aren’t suggesting you repeat everything you hear word-for-word (because that would drive anyone crazy), but there is science that suggests that using the same words as someone else in a conversation can increase the odds that they will like you. Plus, using the same phrasing shows your potential new partner or pal that you’re paying close attention.
Cuss It Out
Disclosure: Before you starting cursing in an important job interview, make sure to read the situation and the person who’s interview you. Generally, though, dropping an F-bomb here and there has been shown to actually lighten the mood.
“Various research studies have shown that people who swear make positive impressions,” psychologist Dr. Jennifer Sweeton told Bustle. “They are perceived as honest, trustworthy, and persuasive.” Just make sure you aren’t using these words and phrases with surprisingly offensive origins.
This should be common knowledge, but we might as well hammer the point home: Never show up late when you’re meeting someone for the first time. In fact, try to get there a few minutes early to demonstrate just how serious you are about making a good impression.
Give Them Something to Grab Onto
When you introduce yourself, throw in a fun fact—like where you’re from or where you went to college—that the person you’re talking to can riff of of.
“When I prospect for business I want to create, within the first 15 seconds… I start by saying, ‘Hi, this is Andy Greenberg from beautiful downtown Omaha, Nebraska,’ Andrew Greenberg told Carol Roth. “When I say beautiful downtown Omaha, there is always a reply. Warren Buffett? College World Series?”
Have you ever stopped someone on the street just to compliment their purse or unique boots? Accessorizing is a great way to spark up a conversation and show off your personality and sense of style. Even dad can accessorize with these timeless style upgrades.
See Your Out—and Take It
Don’t let a conversation with a new friend drag on for too long, or else you run the risk of awkward lulls. “If they start eye-surfing or summarizing the chat, which can often be subconscious, it may be time to move on,” Genuine Insights Inc. president Gina Rudan told Woman’s Day. Rudan warned that letting a conversation drag can quickly turn a good impression into a bad one.
Don’t Force a Joke
Humor is a great way to break the ice with someone new, but forcing a joke into a situation that isn’t funny will only end in disaster. “If you’re funny and it’s natural and spontaneous, that’s fine,” Virgin CEO Richard Branson once said. “But don’t use humor that’s forced and scripted—even my wife frequently reminds me that my sense of humor is ‘an acquired taste.'”
Have a Passion
People with hobbies and passions are viewed as driven and motivated, so emphasizing your passions when meeting someone new is a great way to silently communicate your skills in the workplace. Still haven’t found your hobby? Check out these 40 Best Hobbies to Take Up in Your 40s.
Remember the Musts
Last but not least, don’t forget about the tried and true advice that people have given for years about making a good first impression. Start the conversation with a firm handshake and a smile; dress to impress; and try to meet up face-to-face instead of over the phone or via video conferencing. And to look your best before your next job interview or any first date, read up on the 30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s.
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