In a world of lockdowns and social isolation, a good first impression now feels more important than ever. In both social and business situations, we all try to remember how to do it. Because whether you’re on a first date or interviewing for a new job, an impression can make or break an opportunity.
Why is this?
According to research conducted at Princeton University, people only need a split second to make a decision about anything, especially when it comes to faces. It’s terrible, it really is. Lead researcher Alexander Todorov discovered that we unconsciously use a person’s facial expression to judge his character. However, this association also extends to one’s general style, grooming, and presentation.
Whether these quick judgments are justified or not, we have no control over how our brains work. First impressions matter – luckily we can change the way we project ourselves in those crucial first minutes.
A smile is the easiest way to connect with someone. A friendly, healthy smile radiates warmth and enthusiasm. It helps inform others that you are kind and trustworthy. It’s also an easy way to build rapport during interviews, dates, and just about any other occasion. For example, consider a date. One of the first things a date notices about you is your smile (so don’t forget to floss).
Remember that smiling involves more than just the mouth. You should also make eye contact. This action radiates trust and openness. People love to connect with someone they can trust, someone who is open, and someone who knows themselves.
It’s been a funny few years for the handshake, we’ll admit that. But hopefully life will now return to a point where a good handshake will serve you well at work and beyond, as it always does. Whether you’re meeting your neighbors or a new boss, it’s important to learn how to make a good handshake.
Essentially, a handshake is a combination of timing and technique. It can be given on first seeing a person and in conjunction with a greeting. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but the person of higher authority or age is usually the first to raise their hand.
As for technique, go for a firm and upright handshake. Your handshake shouldn’t be too strong, but it shouldn’t be too weak either. It should also stand upright. Avoid flipping the other person’s hand, as this could have the effect of trying to overpower them. Oh, and don’t forget to sanitize.
We’re preaching to the choir here, but your wardrobe sets the tone. It gives people an idea of who you are and what you stand for. Make sure what you wear represents you exactly. We’ve said this before, but don’t overdo it or underdo it, and never dress like someone you’re not. Sure, you want to dress to impress for a job interview or date, but there are ways to do that and still be authentic.
Consider which colors and shapes suit your body or skin color when finding the right outfit. Menswear styles have evolved to encompass the widest range of looks, trends and customizations.
It’s also good to remember that not every occasion warrants a suit. Especially these days. Old ways of thinking about making a good impression are no longer in vogue. On some occasions, a suit can even make the wrong impression.
This all comes back to under- and over-dressing and the fine line in between. It is important to know which wardrobe is suitable for your office environment or special occasion. Finally, accessories on purpose. Cufflinks, pocket squares or a watch all have the power to take your look to the next level.
Don’t forget your manners. While it can be easy to lose track of good manners in more casual settings, you want to avoid doing this in front of a boss, date, or other important person. Whether you’re meeting your boss for lunch or taking a date to a casual spot, bring your best behavior.
This means saying please and thank you, not interrupting others, respecting the opinion of others, and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, among several other good manners.
From the way you talk to the way you dress, there are several ways to exude confidence if you want to make a good impression. For example, always make eye contact when talking to someone. Constantly looking down or looking away may suggest to others that you’re not quite sure of what you’re saying, or that you’re involved in the conversation. Be firm and courageous – the last thing an interviewer wants is someone who can’t take the challenge.
Another way to show confidence is through the words you use. If you know a subject well, show it. This can impress a boss you are applying for. A few tips for speaking with confidence include taking your time and visualizing yourself as you deliver the speech.
6. Care and hygiene
While it’s important to understand how to dress properly, you also need to know the impact of grooming. The two go hand in hand, but are not the same. The perfect suit is of no use if your hair and beard are unkempt. If you want to make a good impression, you have to cover all the bases.
A soft haircut, a well-maintained beard and a classic scent are sure to ramp up your grooming routine. Also do the basics right: shower, moisturize, use deodorant and make sure your breath is always fresh. The last thing you want is for a hair or skincare mistake to be the reason for not having a second date.
Authenticity is one of those modern buzzwords that can mean anything and everything, but don’t overlook it. When it comes to making a good impression, authenticity matters. It counts. The best way to make a lasting impression is to just be yourself.
Speak honestly, make decisions consistent with your values, and follow your true passions. Authenticity can seem scarce in a world dominated by social media. We often just want to belong. However, when it comes to making a good impression, that’s the last thing you want to do. For example, interviewers are more likely to remember the person who stands out above the person who conforms to the status quo.
8. Do your research
This is more true for interviews than dates, where it can be taken as creepy, but always do your research. If you don’t understand the position you applied for or read the company’s mission statement, the interviewer will likely notice. Come prepared and ready to adequately answer their questions, as well as bring some of your own to the table.