You know what? First impressions suck.
They suck because they are totally unfair. How can anyone have a clear idea of what someone else is like just like that? Are we human beings that superficial?
They suck because they are awfully quick. If research is true, the very first impression is made within 7 seconds of meeting someone, which means we hardly get enough time to show how sexy and funny we can be after one or two drinks.
They suck because they are lasting. Some even say first impressions turn out to be lifelasting impressions, so you might as well give up after a failed first impression (but don’t).
But most of all, they suck because they’re so damn real.
That’s right. Everything you have heard about how important first impressions are, is sadly but indeniably true.
People will make a quick judgment of who you are as a person within a few seconds of meeting you in person, even if they aren’t totally aware that they’re doing it. First impressions are subconscious and emotional… they’re simple human nature.
Do you think it gets easier online? Think again. Some research shows that first impressions can also be made by looking at a video of the person being judged, or even by looking at a simple profile picture. In fact, the same research points out people often overestimate negative traits in online first impressions. Damn!
But before you start feeling sorry for yourself, just remember you are just as guilty of making quick judgments based on first impressions of others just the same.
So now we know that a) first impressions suck and b) they are real.
Overwhelmed? Don’t sweat it, here comes the part where I teach you a few things you can do to make sure you always make a great first impression.
First Impression Pointers You Should Categorically Pay Attention To
These tips were written down with the intention of helping men make a great first impression. Why? Well, most of my readers are males looking for style advice, but I have to say all these pointers should work just as well for the female readers out there (you’re there… right?), you just need to use your imagination a little bit. So here we go…
Always Be On Time
I cannot stress this one enough. Always be on time to whatever event or meeting you are attending. Being late (or really late) is probably the most disrespectful thing you can do to someone else and might be the best way to ruin your reputation with such person forever. If you’re not willing to put in the necessary effort to be on time to your appointments you can simply stop reading at this point since nothing else you do will save your failed first impression.
On time means on time. Being ten minutes late is bad, but can still be acceptable depending on the seriousness of your appointment (don’t even think about it if we’re talking about a job interview). Twenty minutes late… forget it.
Oh, and do show up. Believe it or not some people simply won’t show up to appointments. Is there a worse first impression than no impression at all?
Need a cool watch to help you be on time? Try here.
Or an alarm clock? Try here instead.
No excuses. Really. Just be on time.
Personal Hygiene Is A Must
So many men forget the basics, so I feel they have a place in this list. Take a shower, brush your teeth, wash your hair, put on deodorant, clean your face,… you know, the usual things we all should be doing every single day, yet some strangely forget about.
Beyond these basics, always have clean nails and ears. Clip your fingernails if necessary (which usually always is for most men).
With good hygiene comes good smell and with a good smell comes, in part, a great first impression. Do not however, believe for a second that pouring cologne all over your body will make up for poor self hygiene.
Yes, there are personal hygiene survival kits in case you ever need one.
Clothes Make (Or Destroy) The Man
Other than your actual physical appearance, nothing is as important as the clothes you wear when making an impression. Think about it: people might be able to form an opinion on you just by looking at you from afar. And what is it they’ll see? Your clothes, of course.
Unlike your physical appearance, which can be hard or even impossible to change, there are a lot of things you can do to improve the way you dress.
First and foremost, wear clean clothes. This one’s easy, but might not be enough.
Second: wear clothes that fit you. I’ll probably keep repeating this one over and over again until you start hating me, but trust me on this one, it’s critical.
Let me make it extremely simple, it never really hurts to wear a nice suit and tie ensemble to an appointment where you’ll be making your very own first impression on someone else. And I am not saying this because I dedicate most of my blogging around the suit and tie look. A suit is really a very effective way for a man to make a killing impact on other people.
Going out on a date? The other person will love to see you suited up. Job interview? Your interviewer will appreciate the effort. Just going about your daily routine? People you encounter will even treat you differently.
Really, suit and tie is an easy winner for all men.
Watch Your Posture
I had to put this one right after clothes because not even the most expensive suit will save a terrible, slouching posture.
Make a conscious effort to stand up straight and tall, especially at the moment of the very first encounter. Keep this at the back of your mind at all times since it is oh so easy to start slouching again without even noticing after a few minutes.
The best thing you can do is to work on your posture at all times, not only when making a good impression is required. If you manage to fix your posture on a permanent basis, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when meeting someone for the first time.
Easier said than done, I’m well aware of this. Try these exercises for men that will help improve your posture, consistency is key here.
Or try wearing a posture corrector for some extra support if needed.
The Power Of A Good Handshake
When it comes to first impressions, the handshake is probably the only time the sense of touch will play a role in how the other person will perceive you. And so I ask you to trust me when I say it is essential to have a firm handshake.
Have you ever shaken hands with another man you just met and felt a sudden impression of lack of power and assurance? It’s disappointing to say the least. Don’t be that guy.
I am not saying you should squeeze hands till your (and his) face turns red. Just a tight, firm handshake will be enough and it can go a long way to make you appear more powerful and assertive. Are you unsure if you have an effective handshake? Practice with a friend until you’ve mastered a sturdy shake, simple as that.
Use Your Voice Effectively
Now let’s talk about the sense of hearing, which some believe to be the most important sense for humans. If this is true, then your voice plays a huge role in making a good first impression.
How? Men with deep voices are considered to be more masculine (duh!), confident, and even more attractive, which are all positive traits for a man to possess when presenting himself. No wonder some studies even show that a deeper voice pitch can determine success in business, and even politics.
Of course I am not implying you should try to make a pathetic Barry White impression. There are however, many effective voice exercises you can try that will help build the stamina of your voice and at the same time reach a deeper and richer tone.
Try these for starters.
You have to make this one a priority.
A powerful non-verbal communication can make you appear more authoritative, give you an air of honesty and will help you create a closer connection with the person (or group of persons) forming their own first impression of you.
On the other hand, a weak and defective body language can ruin all your other competences. There’s no way around it, you definitely need to learn how to use it wisely when attempting to make a great first impression.
The bad news is, unfortunately we all have an overabundance of terrible body language crutches we have learned to use throughout our lives and they are extremely hard to overcome.
The good news? There are many, many tricks you can learn to efficiently revamp your non-verbal communication skills. These are one of the easiest to master – practice them.
I thought about scrapping this one from the list since it’s obvious this is part of your body language, but it really is such a pivotal portion of what creates a good first impression that I just had to have it as a separate point.
No, I’m not talking about a creepy, show-all-your-teeth-all-the-time kind of smile, which ironically comes very easily when we feel stressed.
Go for your instinctive, natural smile when meeting and addressing someone and you’ll be on the safe side. Why is your natural smile your best alternative over a well-studied “sexy” smile? Because most people can tell fake smiles from honest smiles.
Still you have to be aware of behavior since, like body language and posture, you can easily slip back to your everyday frown (I’m guilty as charged).
Need a whiter smile? I use these and they really help.
Not cocky. Nobody likes a cocky person, especially in a first encounter situation.
But yeah, feel confident, act confident, walk with confidence, talk confidently. In short, be the confident badass man you know you are. Always keep in mind the amazing you have done and the amazing things you know you are capable of. When being in this mindframe you will find confidence comes much easier and more naturally to you.
And people you approach will notice.
You still have to be prudent when displaying your confidence. Make your confidence appear spontaneous and instinctive, otherwise it’ll come out as awkward and artificial.
Oh and have I said this before? Wear a suit, gain confidence.
Still self-doubting your confidence? This book should help.
Prove You’re Trustworthy
What’s trustworthiness? Let me get some help from the experts. I loved the following line from this article:
Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy + Self-Orientation
In short, coming off as trustworthy is a great aid in making an outstanding, lasting first impression because it isn’t necessarily about you, as much as it is about your interlocutor. When people see you as trustworthy, they will feel at ease when being around you. You will have gained people’s trust.
And we know how damn hard it is to gain people’s trust.
So how can you appear trustworthy on a first encounter? Sounds difficult, but there are a few things you can do: listen and listen and listen to what the other person is saying while paying real attention to his or her message. Be honest and truthful. Show you are consistent with your beliefs. All these are great trustworthiness signs that everyone will acknowledge.
It is within you to be a trustworthy person. It is a personal decision. Take it.
How dare I suggest you to stay relaxed after such a long list of things you should watch out for when attempting to make a killing first impression, right? I know, I would be just as agitated. But it is so critical for you to stay relaxed since a stressed attitude can certainly turn your first impression into a real ordeal.
Don’t go through life overthinking everything you do. Instead, take the necessary steps to ensure you’ll always feel prepared for whatever might come. Remember first impressions happen all the time and sometimes even when you less expect them, so be prepared.
With preparedness comes the sense of ease and with it comes a relaxed attitude.
And Last… Be Yourself
Amidst all these various considerations you should take to make a first impression successful, there is something you should never, ever forget: Always be yourself.
Of course, I’m talking about an improved, better prepared version of yourself. But still, be yourself.
Your skillset, your knowledge, your attitude towards life, your personality, and so many other things make you a great individual. Let them all shine through and be authentic.
Or try being someone else… And then come let me know how that goes.
Why Should You Even Bother?
Are you finding all this too very difficult and don’t feel like even giving it a try? You’d be making yourself a disservice by not even trying.
It all comes down to a few easy fixes you can apply in you daily life that will amount to great positive changes in who you are. These then become weapons you’ll easily use whenever a challenge, such as a first encounter situation, comes up.
There’s nothing there to lose and whole great deal to gain.
Still unconvinced? Try undoing bad first impression. Now that’s a real challenge for anyone.
Why don’t you let me know about a terrific first impression you made and what made it so in comparison to a not-so-successful first impression you made? I’d enjoy reading your experiences (and learn from them as well).
Till next time.