Q: What advice do you have for making good first impressions?
A: When you meet someone for the first time, be it your new boss, a recent addition to your team or a potential client you want to convert, his or her brain makes a thousand judgements at lightning speed. These include: ‘Are you someone to approach or to avoid?’, ‘Are you a friend or foe?’, ‘Do you have status and authority?’, ‘Are you trustworthy/competent/likeable/confident?’, and perhaps most importantly ‘Do I want to do business with this person?’.
We make major decisions about people within the first few seconds of meeting them. First impressions are heavily influenced by nonverbal cues, even more so than verbal cues. Allan Pease, an internationally renowned expert and researcher on relationships and body language, has found that nonverbal communication can account for more than 65 per cent of human communication in face-to-face conversations, whereas the verbal component is less that 35 per cent.
With nonverbal cues playing such a major role in what we convey and communicate to others it is vital that you make a good first impression on the people you meet. This is especially true in business relationships. While it’s impossible to stop people from making snap judgements altogether, you can influence how other people judge you through nonverbal communication.
Here are seven nonverbal communication tips to help you make a positive first impression:
1. Attitude adjustment. People pick up on your attitude almost instantly from all kinds of nonverbal indicators. Before you greet or meet someone, think about the situation and make a conscious decision as to the type of attitude you want to portray and embody for that specific audience.
2. Straighten up. Status and power are nonverbally conveyed by your posture, height and use of space. Standing tall, pulling your shoulders back and holding your head high and straight, are all signals of confidence, a positive attitude, assertiveness and competence.
3. Show off your pearly whites. Remember a smile is an invitation and sign of welcome to everyone you meet. It says to new clients or business colleagues ‘I’m friendly, likeable and approachable’.
4. Make eye contact. Looking at someone eye-to-eye transmits energy and indicates attention, interest, focus and openness. Tip: To improve your ability to make eye contact, practice taking note of the eye colour of every new person that you meet.
5. Raise your eyebrows. Open your eyes slightly more than you usually would when you meet someone new to imitate the ‘eyebrow flash’, the universal signal of acknowledgement and recognition.
6. Shake hands. This is a fast and effective way to build rapport between yourself and a new acquaintance. Studies of the brain by University of Illinois researchers have shown that a simple handshake increases positive affect towards an interaction and also diminishes the impact of a negative impression. So a simple handshake when you meet a new person can help forgive any later misunderstandings.
7. Lean in. Leaning forward slightly illustrates to the other person that you’re engaged and interested in the conversation. Although you should always be respectful of the other person’s space. In most business situations keeping a distance of approximately two feet between yourself and the other person is preferable.
Every encounter you have with someone new presents an opportunity to meet new clients and expand your professional network by making a positive first impression. You’ve got just a few seconds but if you handle it well, a few seconds is all you’ll need.
If you have any questions for Rocky and Rob please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rocky Bartolotto is the National Sales Director at Homely.com.au and works closely with real estate groups in Australia, tasked with building strategic partnerships and growth. Connect with Rocky on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Homely is a new way to search for property to buy and rent in Australia. Homely incorporates beautiful design and community engagement, to create an enjoyable and simple experience that helps you find a new home quickly.
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