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The Untold Truth About The First Impression

Making the first impression is like skydiving without a parachute. You can do it only once.

Unlike the latter, a subject of the first impression fascinates many scientists, researchers, as well as average Joe and plain Jane.

In other words, if you have any contact with people on a daily basis, you are at least familiar with the concept of the first impression.

Every once in a while a new breakthrough research emerges shedding light on this topic. Apparently, a window of opportunity to make a great first impression is decreasing.

The latest article I’ve read says that now you have seven seconds to do that. The article was telling about how to stand out from the crowd and nail on your job interview.

If you are like me and you’re wondering what you can do in those seven seconds, this is the checklist (taken from the original article).

• Smile.
• Shake their hands.
• Introduce yourself.
• Speak clearly.
• Maintain eye contact.
• Look smart.
• Sit down only when invited to do so.

I have no intention of questioning this or any other research on the subject, nor the credentials of these experts. The problem here is not if this is true or false.

The problem is that we believe it to be true.

Because of these studies, we focus on the form rather than the essence. The essence of communication comes from the inside, and the way how we communicate is and should be a reflection of that essence.

In plain words, we focus too much on the techniques and time constraint. As a result, it’s difficult to relax and be present during the interaction. When that happens the chances of making that great impression are slim to none.

Making the other party like you is important, but going through the mental checklist while talking with someone tends to be overwhelming.

I noticed that being in my own head while meeting people prevented me to relax and actually meet the person in front of me.

So, regardless the environmental context, here is a list of things we should always keep in mind before we have a chance to make that first impression.

1. Not Everyone Is Going To Like You

This is a tough pill to swallow. I am still struggling to accept this fact, especially if I did everything I could to make a strong positive impression on someone.

No matter how good you look, how good you feel or even how good you make those around you feel, there will always be someone who doesn’t like you.

Why? Who knows.

Maybe you remind them of that bully from their second grade. Maybe they are not in a good mood, and they look at you through the prism of that mindset.

Or, maybe you are trying too hard.

The point is that in any social interaction, there are so many variables and maybes you can’t control. Nor you should even try to.

Accepting the fact that not everyone will like you eases up the pressure that we sometimes unnecessarily put on ourselves.

2. There’s Always Tomorrow

What if we know that the other person didn’t like the impression we made? Can we do something about it? Is there a way to make the first impression twice?

First of all, there is no way to make that claim. You can never be 100% sure (Unless the other person actually said that to you).

Either way, if you know you did or said something that may lead to that conclusion you have to accept it.

You can’t make a first impression twice, but you only need to make the proper impression once.

If you offended and said something that might hurt the person in any way, apologize for it. If that person is someone you would like to have in your life, start building that relationship.

There is always a tomorrow.

3. Never Jump To Conclusion

Assumptions are the foundation of many mistakes we make in our lives.

Assuming anything after just one interaction with another person is something we should avoid. Usually, assumption equals conclusion. When we make up our minds about something, it’s difficult to look at things around objectively.

I recently realized this after my daily dose of small talk with a local street seller.

I could’ve sworn we’ve clicked the moment we met. We had a few good jokes. We both agreed that street artists are real artists. Handshake and appreciation at the end of our small talk. Nothing in our interaction would point otherwise.

However, the next conversation was the complete opposite.

He barely said a few words, and he was constantly looking away from me. The next time I saw him, it was even worse. I felt that he was annoyed by my presence.

Maybe I didn’t look smart enough. Or maybe I was just fortunate enough to meet him at his best, and every subsequent interaction went wrong because I assumed he instantly liked me.

Whatever the reason might be, never jump to the conclusion.

4. The Last Impression Counts

The power of the last impression is heavily underrated.

While it’s important to be aware of the first impression we leave on others, it’s equally important to pay attention to the last one.

Because if we don’t, the last impression, for now, can easily become the last impression forever. Nothing tragical will happen, of course, but the reality is that they will probably forget us regardless of how smart we look like.

What I do at the end of a conversation with the person I just met is the following:

If I enjoyed the interaction and the company of the other party, I would always mention something that I found interesting about them.

If it’s a story they told me, I always acknowledge that value. They invested time, energy and their trust in me by sharing a personal story, teaching me a business lesson, telling me about their big goals and plans for the future.

Or maybe we just talked about sports, and I found myself enjoying the conversation.

I appreciate that. And I say it out loud along with a handshake or a hug.

Summary:

It’s an amazing time to be alive today, with every information we need, just a click away. We have more knowledge available to us than the mightiest people in the world had a hundred years ago.

While it’s helpful to have the data and the research at our disposal, we won’t learn about communication from the comfort of a sofa. Obsessing too much about the right techniques and time constraint to make the first impression will do you no good.

You have enough information already. Now, you should start taking action and have fun meeting new people.

While doing that, always keep in mind:

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” ― Dita Von Teese

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Note: You can find the original article that inspired me to write about this topic here.

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