From first date to first interview and everything in between – the stress of making a good first impression is all too real. Even for the most social butterflies, meeting someone new can so often be stressful. We want to be charming, friendly and witty, but can never be quite sure how our new acquaintance will view us. However, if you think you have no control over the first impression you’re making, think again! Read on for five simple ways to put your best foot forward and make a great (and lasting) impression.
Dress to impress.
Wear the outfit that makes you feel amazing, no double-stick tape, safety pins, yanks or tugs necessary. The outfit you can walk in, dance in, breathe in – even after the dessert course. There’s nothing quite like the perfect outfit to keep your confidence soaring, but keep in mind: comfort is key. Opt for a comfortable shoe, save your toes the blisters, and plan to wear those 4-inch block heels on the second date.
Watch your body language.
It’s probably no surprise that our body language often speaks louder than our words. Think about what types of body language rub you the wrong way when you’re on the receiving end. For example, no one likes to be mid-conversation with someone only to catch them glancing over your shoulder, checking their email or peeking at the time. When meeting someone new, remember to be present. And perhaps keep your phone tucked in your purse.
Make purposeful small talk.
Show of hands: how many of you have been in a conversation with someone new and unavoidably turned to fail-safe small talk? (Guilty as charged.) The moment you both run out of things to say, most of us automatically fill the uncomfortable silence with commentary on the food or weather. Consider turning the conversation instead to more personal topics, like a favorite movie they’ve seen lately or what they enjoy doing on the weekends. Then…
Ask questions that matter, encourage them to elaborate, let them know you’re listening – and then, of course, actually listen. Having a genuine curiosity about another person’s life gives them the confidence to open up a bit more. And on the other end, make sure your own responses are more than just bare bones. Don’t just answer what you do for a living. Share why you chose that career, the people you enjoy working with; maybe even ask for advice. Giving them a few personal details of your own will open the door to a more meaningful conversation. Just try to remember the two big don’t’s here: no complaining, and no over-sharing. This is only the first impression, after all.
Relax and remember: you’re probably not the only one who’s anxious.
Chances are, whoever is on the other side of the table is just as nervous as you. So be yourself, break out a smile, and have confidence in the fact that first impression anxiety comes from both sides. If you’re comfortable, you will definitely make the other person more comfortable. And one surefire way to leave a good impression is to leave them feeling good about themselves!