A Time Tested Method For Making a Positive Impression on Others

“A person is what they think about all day long.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was looking for conference rooms in Moncton to hold an upcoming course, and every hotel we tried, we either had no-one get back to us, or they had nothing to offer that was in our budget.

Getting desperate, I called on one of the older and more established hotels in the city. To start with, when I had made the appointment with the sales department, the sales manager, huffed and sighed and told me that I could come over, but she had more important things to do. Not letting this discourage me, I fought the lunchtime traffic and made it across town with time to spare. When I arrived, no one knew where she was, so I waited for about 15 minutes. Finally, she arrived, well, actually I had to go find her, and I set out on a running walk trying to keep up with her. All the while I was in her company, she may have smiled once, and I use the term loosely, it was more like a grimace that she had to put up with me. I tried, I really tried to carry on a conversation with her but she was having none of it. When she spoke, it was to just quote a room price, or the square footage of the room that she was charging double what the rest of the city was charging. I’ve had better conversations with tree stumps (which I don’t do very often).

One of the rooms that she was showing me had a few people in it engaged in conversation, but she said for me to look anyway. I poked my head in the room to take a look, and very much like the “I’ve come for an argument” skit, one of the people in the room grumbled, “what do you want?”

“I’m just looking at the room sir, sorry to bother you” I replied.

“I said, what do you want?” he repeated.

“Nothing really sir, I’ve seen what I need to see”.

“What company are you with?” He demanded.

“Dale Carnegie Business Group” I said.

“Dale Carnegie,” he smirked, “I can spot a Dale Carnegie person a mile away. You people are so phony.”

Ok, now, he was taunting me, and the mood I was in, I let it happen… a little. I walked in the room hand outstretched and said, “Congratulations sir, you are the only person whom I have ever met that can tell everything about a person without even asking them any questions. What is your secret, because I’d really love to know?”

“What do you mean?” he parried.

“Well, you seem to know a lot about me and we’ve never ever met…. have we?”

“No, I’d remember that.”

“Yes, I think I would too.” I chuckled.

Right about this time, I realized that if he had an opinion of “people like me”, I was only solidifying his attitude. I decided to back off and let him wallow in the mud of his viewpoint. I was never going to change his opinion, so I excused myself and left the room thinking that I was glad that I wasn’t living in his skin.

I’m sure that we’ve all heard the saying that first impressions are lasting. Or, you only get one chance to make a first impression. These are certainly very valid points. I, as I’m certain that you have held lasting images of people who have given us the wrong first impressions, then made judgments in the future that were based on this little bit of information. And those impressions are difficult, almost impossible to change, once they have been imprinted on our minds.

Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly sending out signals to the people that we meet every day. Most first impressions are based on our outward appearances. How we look, what we say, our eye contact, our voice, our body language and even the environment that we are in all contribute to the impression that a person forms. I guess that it was true when Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” We are always on “stage” when we are meeting others.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when meeting people for the first time, so you can make a more positive and lasting first impression:

When being introduced, or meeting people for the first time, look them in the eyes and smile.

  1. When shaking hands, a firm grip is important. Not a knuckle-breaking grip that you hold until the other person is on their knees, but a firm grip that tells the other person that you are comfortable meeting them. In my 30 years in this business, I have shaken a lot of hands, and still to this day, the ones that I am most uncomfortable with are the cold, clammy limp grasps. Be bold, be brave, and grasp the hand with confidence. Women have told me that they like a firm grip too, so no half fingers grips. Grasp firmly and hold for about 3–5 seconds.
  2. Get, and use the persons’ name. Repeat it as soon as you hear it, and use it a couple of times in the conversation.
  3. Listen with more than your ears. Listen intently as they speak. Observe body language, and respond in a positive way. Remember, a good conversationalist doesn’t waste time talking about themselves, they make the other person feel important and they make the conversation about them.
  4. Be interested in the other person; avoid trying to make them interested in you. If you are interested in them, and show it, the laws of human nature state that they will respond in kind to you.

Making positive first impressions is not always easy, because we will have to change our habits. It can be done. You have to want to make the change. If the positive intent to change is there, it should be a part of your everyday routines.

So this week, if you are a salesperson making sales, going for an interview for a job or a new position, or just meeting people at a company or a family function, be dynamic, be sincere and above all, be yourself, and you will have created an image that will “win friends and influence people”.

Make this your best week ever, and make an impact.

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My vision is quite simple: to make an impact on the lives of the people who have been entrusted to me: You (for reading this article), my family and my clients.

I coach people. Direct, practical, innovative, meaningful. I coach for excellence.I love what I do… and so do my clients.

Over the years I’ve noticed that business coaching that was supposed to make us stronger actually took away our confidence and made us doubt ourselves. Confidence and people skills aren’t developed just by measuring and planning everything, they grow through doing and learning from experience and by taking risks. People want to make a difference. Build teams. Be better understood. Live more confidently.

I am committed to creating a world where business people communicate and act with confidence to create better worlds for themselves. Worlds where they feel powerful and free to express themselves. Worlds where something as simple as conversation creates energy, understanding and impact. Worlds so exquisite, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

If you found this article helpful, insightful or moving, please let me know, if you think it can help others, please share it with them.