People who always make a great first impression do these 9 things differently

I’ll admit it: first impressions have never been my strong suit.

Then again, I’m not that great at last impressions, either.

So I’ve always envied those people who seem able to hit it off with anyone they meet.

And given how important first impressions are, it’s a real gift to be able to win someone over on a first meeting.

But if you’re not naturally one of those charismatic people who always make a great first impression, don’t worry. By copying what people who make great first impressions do, you can learn to win people over on your first meeting, too.

1) They greet people properly

Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, points out that first impressions are often made in a nano second. And once those impressions are made, they can be extremely hard to shake.

That’s why the right greeting can make or break your attempts to make a good first impression.

Luckily, greeting someone properly follows some basic rules that anyone can learn.

For instance, you should:

  • Stand up when meeting someone new
  • Shake hands
  • Introduce yourself, unless you have already been introduced by someone else
  • Pay attention to their name, and repeat it if that helps you
  • Tell them you’re pleased to meet them or something similar.

These are simple steps, but they can make a big difference in how you are perceived, especially in the crucial first few seconds of any greeting.

And you’d be surprised how many people forget to take these simple steps that can help you make a great first impression.

2) They remember people’s names

This is another one I really struggle with.

And in a first meeting, you may be able to get away with not knowing someone’s name. But you can make them like you a lot more if you demonstrate that you paid attention to their name and have remembered it.

Don’t overuse this. If you use somebody’s name in every sentence, you’re going to come across as fake, like a stereotypical used car salesperson.

But as skill development expert Jody Schulz points out, using someone’s name “creates a culture of respect, recognition and consideration for the discussion.”

Plus, using someone’s name when you first meet them helps you remember it, which means you’ll make a better impression if you meet this person again.

3) They pay attention to body language

We all say more than we realize.

And often times, it’s not the words we use that get our message across as much as it is our body language.

Body language is something we all use unconsciously, and we all instinctively understand what it means.

You can also improve your chances of making a good first impression by learning some body language basics.

For example:

  • Keep your shoulders straight
  • Breathe slowly
  • Point your feet toward the person you’re speaking to
  • Don’t fidget
  • Make eye contact

Again, these are simple things. But together, they send a powerful subconscious message that tells the person you’re speaking to that you’re interested in them.

And that’s one of the best ways to make a great first impression.

4) They have a few things to say in mind

Depending on the meeting, it can be helpful to have a few things you want to say in mind.

For example, if it’s a business meeting, you may have a few issues you want to raise or ideas you want to discuss.

On the other hand, in a more social situation, you can prepare for meeting someone new by having a few funny anecdotes to tell.

This is another thing that’s important not to overdo. You can’t rehearse an entire conversation, and there’s more to talking to someone than having your every word scripted beforehand.

In fact, this can often make you seem fake.

But keeping a few things you want to say in mind for when you find a natural opening in the conversation is a good idea to keep the conversation flowing and make a good first impression.

5) They find common ground

The reality is, we like people who are like ourselves.

Psychologist Donn Byrne performed a study that found that we like people who have similar views and attitudes to the ones we hold ourselves.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should create a fake persona or agree with everything a person says to make a good first impression.

But it does mean that it’s never a bad idea to find common ground.

It can take some work in a conversation to learn more about a person and figure out what makes them tick. But once you do, you can hone in on anything you have in common.

Maybe you share a hobby. Maybe you have a mutual acquaintance. Maybe you both come from the same place, or have vacationed in the same place.

It doesn’t need to be something big. But finding something you have in common with someone else can help you make a great first impression on them.

6) They pay attention

phrases smart people use to influence others People who always make a great first impression do these 9 things differently

This might sound simple, but it’s one of the biggest things you can do to help make a great first impression.

Pay attention to the person you’re talking to.

So often, we are focusing more in a conversation on what we want to say than what the other person is saying. Sometimes, instead of listening, we are planning what we will say the next time it’s our turn to speak.

But people can tell when you’re doing that. And they don’t like it.

You can show you are paying attention to what someone is saying by asking them questions about it. Even asking them to explain something further can help to show that you are paying attention and not just thinking about yourself.

That’s a powerful way to make people like you on a first meeting.

7) They know how to make conversation

It’s important to remember that conversation is not a competition.

When you want someone to like you, it can be tempting to try and show off what you consider your best attributes. But if you want to have a good conversation, the focus shouldn’t be on you at all.

Ultimately, conversation is a collaborative act. It’s something you and the other person create together, and if one person tries to dominate the conversation, they will probably make a worse first impression than if they just listened a little more.

If it helps, you can even prepare a couple of conversation starters beforehand. 

Again, you don’t want your conversation to become too rigid and predictable. But if you struggle to make conversation with people, it can be a good idea to memorize a few open questions that can get the conversation flowing, even with a total stranger.

8) Be authentic

We’ve all heard the cheesy advice – often from our moms – that if we will just be ourselves, everyone will like us.

Unfortunately, that’s not true.

At the same time, one of the worst things you can do when trying to make a good first impression is to come off as fake.

Yes, you need to watch your manners. Yes, you need to pay attention to your body language and take the trouble to try and connect with the other person.

But you also need to be who you really are, or at least a version of that.

People can tell when you’re not being authentic. And when you come off as fake, you’re guaranteed to make a bad first impression.

9) Be positive

No one likes a complainer. So you want to make a good first impression, it’s often better to focus on positive topics and try to be upbeat.

That doesn’t mean you have to plaster on a fake smile and pretend you love everyone and everything.

But it does mean that you should probably avoid topics that make you upset or that get you complaining.

No one likes to spend time with someone who is always finding something to complain about. So try to keep your conversation focused on positive things instead of complaining to someone you’ve just met.

Making a good first impression

As you can probably see by now, there’s an art to making a good first impression.

At the same time, there’s no real mystery to it. Although charisma can sometimes seem like a magic spell, there are several techniques you can adopt that will help you make better first impressions.

Try these steps, and you’ll see the effect it has on the impression you make on people.

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Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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