We live in a fast-paced world where time is highly valuable and a good first impression is our ticket to new opportunities. People rarely have the patience to invest precious time in relationships that could lead nowhere.
Nowadays, we often find ourselves in situations where we either impress someone at first sight or forever remain in anonymity. No one’s to blame for this; it’s just how the world has evolved.
A killer first impression can win you the girl or boy of your dreams, help you land a good job, and make you wildly popular.
But what makes a first impression so special?
Experts in the field of Psychology and Sociology believe that a first impression is all about inspiring trust.
For example, a study on the impact of initial trustworthiness has revealed that inspiring confidence right from the beginning can influence the person in front of us even after the meeting is over.
As the author states:
“The key take away point from this research is that people form impressions of trustworthiness rapidly…”
To put it bluntly, you’ve only got one shot at making a good first impression and establishing trust.
Relying on previous research, the same author (like many others) believes that facial expressions (and body language in general) are the vehicle through which we express our trustworthiness. Simply put, our body speaks louder than words.
Whether it’s a date, a new coworker, or a potential business partner, they all look for the same thing – TRUST. They want to know if we’re trustworthy enough to deserve their time and attention.
In that case, let’s give them a memorable first impression!
Tip #1: Introduce yourself with a firm handshake
Even from an early age, our parents and caregivers have taught us the importance of handshakes. This universal gesture of “sticking your hand out and gently but firmly squeezing the other person’s palm” shows that we trust him/her enough to allow a form of physical contact.
A recent study on the power of handshakes has unveiled some interesting facts about the neurobiology of this simple greeting gesture. It seems that our everyday handshakes can “light up” areas of the brain responsible for emotions and social cognition (part of the brain that assesses the intentions of others).
In an article published by the Beckman Institute, one of the authors of the study explained that a handshake “not only increases the positive effect toward a favorable interaction, but it also diminishes the impact of a negative impression.”
Moreover, he believes that “it’s not just any handshake that leads to positive feelings, but a particular way of shaking hands, such as a firm, confident, yet friendly handshake.”
Long story short, when it comes to making one awesome first impression, always go for a firm but gentle handshake.
Tip #2: Look them in the eyes
Just like the handshake, eye contact is one of those basic things we just cannot ignore. As we all know, looking into a person’s eyes is, above all else, a sign of respect. In other words, we show that person we care enough to give him/her our full attention.
Eye contact is so vital that even Barbara and Allan Pease, two world-renowned experts on body language, have dedicated a good chunk of their book to explaining how a mere gaze can change the entire flow of a conversation.
For example, looking into someone’s eyes for a longer period creates a path to intimate (not necessarily romantic) feelings. On the other hand, if the gaze is too piercing, it might be interpreted as aggressive and intimidating.
For a spot-on first impression, Allan Pease believes a focused but casual gaze should do the trick. Not too piercing so that the person feels intimidated, but not too light so that we appear shy and vague.
Tip #3: Expand your body
Let’s face it, when it comes to making a rock-star first impression, we all need a bit of self-trust. Some might even need more than just a bit.
This final trick will help us get a sense of power and control even when we feel powerless.
Using body poses to display power and dominance is something deeply rooted in our genes. But what about trust? For that matter, what about self-trust?
Well, it appears that someone has finally found a body pose that boosts our self-confidence and makes us look trustworthy at the same time.
It all started with a simple question: “Since we naturally expand our bodies when we feel powerful, do we also naturally feel powerful when we expand our bodies?”
In one of her books (Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges), she revealed one body pose guaranteed to boost our self-trust during those stressful first-time encounters.
It’s called the high-power pose and looks like this:
- Tilt your chin upward.
- Pull your shoulders back a little bit and bring your chest out.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- Firmly plant your feet on the floor.
Imagine a bouncer, but without his/her arms crossed. That’s how the high-power pose looks like.
To sum up:
- Introduce yourself with a firm but gentle handshake.
- Look them in the eyes.
- Adopt the high-power pose