“First impressions are often the truest. A man’s look is the work of years; it is stamped on his countenance by the events of his whole life, nay, more, by the hand of nature, and it is not to be got rid of easily.” – William Hazlitt
Absolutely. Every time.
Whenever you are on an interview or meeting a client for the first time or entering a conference room with another department — first impressions COUNT.
- The way you look.
- The way you comport yourself.
- The way you smile and greet people.
- What you say.
- How you react to their response.
In about 5-10 seconds, you’ve already decided whether you like the person or not. Your opinion may change once you get to know them better, but your first impression will linger for a long time.
But here’s something not said by most professionals: It’s the successive mini-impressions that will solidify their first impression — and this is where most people screw up.
After the first 5-10 seconds, a first impression is generated. They’ve made a snap, emotional decision whether they like you and they begin to categorize you. Will you be a friend or enemy? Helpful or a drain? A resource or waste of time? A qualified applicant or another loser?
It’s then the subsequent mini-impressions that make the difference:
- What comes out of your mouth.
- How you react to their questions or comments.
- How you take what they say and improve upon it.
- How you compliment/notice them.
Bottom line — you need to deliver maximum emotional intelligence and empathize with this person. Get your emotional antennae up, feel and listen.
The better you are in delivering a good first impression and then buttressing it up with successful mini-impressions, you’ll hit a home run.
What do you do to deliver a good first impression? Have you ever started out badly and turned it around with successive mini-impressions?