There is no doubt you’ve heard the adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. What many people don’t realize is just how important a first impression can be. As a rule, people judge others within the first 3 to 5 seconds of meeting them. The judgment is made subliminally, without conscious thought, so it is important that individuals do their best to make a good impression, professionally and personally. Oftentimes, it is the simplest concepts of good manners or business etiquette that are forgotten. Nevertheless, there are steps that anyone can take to improve the impression they make in those crucial first moments.
The Basics of Good Impressions
The cornerstones of proper business etiquette are the following:
Be on time.
Dress appropriately for an occasion.
Address everyone respectfully, such as by their last name.
Maintain eye contact, but do not stare.
Speak clearly, confidently, and do not rush through your thoughts or sentences.
Offer a firm handshake.
Smile, Smile, Smile
A confident, relaxed smile is the best way to put other people at ease. Scientists have found that smiling is an important social cue, and that other people will respond to smiles on both a conscious and subliminal level. If a person smiles in joy, others around them will smile, and their brain activity will actually mimic the activity in the brain of the person that initiated the smile.
While people have some ability to detect fake smiles, this ability is not well-developed, and a good fake smile can fool most people. Whether or not you really feel it, put a smile on your face when meeting new people and, indirectly, people will also feel happy to see you. That feeling will resonate every time they think of you.
Good Manners Never Go Out of Style
While your parents should have taught you good manners growing up, here’s a quick primer on the basics that can really make a difference on your first impression.
Good manners are indicative of your respect for yourself and others. “Please,” “Thank You,” and “You’re Welcome,” are not meaningless words; they demonstrate to others that you value their effort, thought, and/or generosity. Using socially significant words, offer behavioral cues to other people when you meet for the first time; this is particularly true when engaging with your elders.
Nevertheless, good manners should not be reserved for superiors, but extended to everyone with whom you interact. Maintaining consistency with your interactions will avoid others thinking you play favorites or are a boss’s pet.
Furthermore, it is rude to use someone’s first name unless given permission to do so, since it indicates a degree of familiarity the other person may not desire. Always address others in business by their title (Mr., Mrs., or Ms.) and their last name, unless they request you use a given name or nickname.
In an informal business atmosphere, it may be customary to address everyone by their first names, but it is best to wait for an invitation and avoid offending potential managers or co-workers.
Attire and Dress
It is usually better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Once again, the way a person dresses can demonstrate their respect for whoever they are meeting.
For example, showing up for a job interview in inappropriate attire means either you do not understand the job, or you do not care whether or not you are hired. A suit is usually appropriate for office positions, while a clean polo shirt, dress shirt, or blouse, and khakis or jeans may be proper for factory or construction jobs.
Article by Gary Dekmezian, Lifehack