Initial impressions – Nail your First Impression within seconds

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Be yourself

Being yourself is the best way to make a great, sustainable first impression within every kind of scenario. You are so good at what you do, others better take you the way you are. Just be yourself. Flash and brash, it’s who you are. Take it or leave it.

Never joined a business dinner before? Be yourself. You don’t have the slightest clue about a weird thing called dresscode? Be yourself and ‘come as you are no matter what’.

As you see, the principles of being yourself work in every kind of situation. Why? It works because you never have to worry about educating or selling yourself again. Any lacks of competence or capability can be easily pushed aside from now on. Obviously, being yourself even works if you suck ass. Rely on being yourself. First impressions are for those who need them.

Further tips for genius initial impressions

Give him that old vice grip handshake, pump it until he winces. Or either give him a handshake weak enough to substantiate your personal weakness. Additionally flash those pearly whites the sorority girls love, and start with your best dirty joke. Etiquette guides or handbooks of manners are meant to be ignored, that’s why savvy scientists spend years on research and development within that field.

Besides all that, it doesn’t matter if you suck at making a good first impression since you usually have enough time to correct yourself when making a solid second impression.

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The Psychology of that first impression

“There is no second chance for the first impression”

It’s been proven that people instantly judge each other within the first few seconds. Based on that impression they form their opinion. The following minutes are spend to confirm the opinion formed before. So once initial impressions are made, they tend to be confirmed. In cognitive psychology this is called confirmation bias. What? The information that is received right after the first impression is evaluated in a way that aligns/confirms the first impression. It’s a biased kind of information to validate the first impression.

As you see, making an outstandingly good impression is an essential skill to master when talking about becoming a badass in human interaction.

No one has to take you the way you are. In fact, if the situation calls for you to make the first impression, you are already at a slight disadvantage. When you interview for a job or meet a potential client, the burden is on you. Understanding and managing the psychology of that first impression levels the playing field.

Research supports three significant findings:

1. Initial impressions happen quickly. Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov claim, “all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions.”

2. Janice Wood of PsychCentral® writes, “first impressions are so powerful that they are more important than fact.”

3. Mark Rowh, writing for the American Psychological Association, says, “how you look and act can matter as much as your ideas.” And, he offers strategies to change your behavior for the better.

Initial impressions happen quickly

What’s new? Attractive people get treated well. Mature looks get more scrutiny than young faces. And, a smile gets you much further than a frown.

But, when you read those faces as attractive, likeable, competent, trustworthy, and aggressive, such quickly formed judgments become important and high impact.

Experiment participants were shown photographs of unfamiliar faces for different periods of time. Respondents consistently formed impressions in 1/10 of a second. Longer exposure to the test photographs reinforced confidence in the judgement.

First impressions override fact

Nicholas Rule, Ph.D., publishing for University of Toronto, found, “the less time we have to make our judgments, the more likely we are to go with our gut, even over fact.” First impressions happen so quickly that what is seen overrules what is known to be true.

For example, he found that people made judgements on sexual orientation contrary to what they knew to be true. Participants were given photographs of men and told the sexual orientation of each. The less time the participants had the pictures, the more likely they were to label the sexuality based on how the men appeared. The more time they had, the more likely they were to remember what they had been told.

Testing repeatedly indicates that people do, indeed, judge a book by its cover – whether or not that judgement has any validity in fact.

Managing your first impression

You want to improve your curb appeal, as it were. No one suggests that you be artificial or shallow. No one suggests you misrepresent yourself. Research seems to indicate that people see through that rather easily, uncomfortably, and permanently.

But, you do live out several scenarios a day. You behave differently with your teacher than you do with your butcher, differently with your waiter than you do with your minister. And, you would not consider this pretense.

A job interview is a behavioral situation. Meeting new clients is a behavioral situation. Each behavioral situation represents a psychological exchange and interplay, and each has its controls.

5 ways to improve your first impression:

1. Be early. Arriving early gives you some control of the logistics.

2. Dress appropriately. You should dress to a target above the minimal acceptable standards of that workplace of the job in that workplace.

3. Be Polite. Old-school manners still impress, and when manners seem natural, they confirm your rightness and readiness.

4. Watch the language. While you have to maintain eye contact, the listener very often focuses on your lips and appreciates the self-confidence revealed in your crisp articulate speaking voice.

5. Listen constructively. It’s not clear why, but silence is a powerful tool. So, you control the situation when you listen more than you talk.

The psychology of first impressions labels first impressions as a behavior that can be learned and changed. Research shows it very long lived after a very short event. It shows that initial impressions trump fact and alter future assessments. The researched psychology of the first impression can direct and improve your behavior.


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