5 Surprising Ways to Make an Awesome First Impression
First impressions can be stressful even for those who like to socialize and interact with others—but for introverts, meeting new people can be especially anxiety-inducing. But there are strategies you can use to improve your chances at making a good impact on new acquaintances, and no, they don’t all revolve around a good, firm handshake.
Make these five lifestyle changes so you come across as more confident and attentive in every interaction—but especially when you meet someone new.
Even if you’re only glancing at your phone to check the time, the minute you glance away, your body language tells the person you’re speaking to that you don’t really care what they have to say. You may be an excellent multitasker with a highly-practiced ability to listen and engage in multiple activities at the same time; your new friend doesn’t know that. They’ve only just been introduced to you, and how you conduct yourself during your first meeting can impact how you are perceived.
Remove the roadblocks and set yourself up for a positive first impression: turn off or silence your phone. You can even go a step further by leaving your phone at your desk or in your car to avoid whipping it out the second you feel nervous.
Not only does good posture impact how you feel, but it also dictates how others perceive you upon first impression (and even after that).
If you only ever practice good posture when you meet other people, it will always feel unnatural. However, if you try to improve your posture gradually, a time will come when you won’t have to think about it or deliberately change anything when you meet new people.
You can develop better posture over time by sitting on a balance ball instead of a desk chair in the office—or try a standing desk instead. Both options will force you to straighten your shoulders and back, and will help you improve the impression you leave in all interactions.
When you’re properly rested, your mood is more stable, you have better focus, and you’re more pleasant to be around, which are all attributes you want to embody during a first impression.
Throughout your day take steps to set yourself up for a restful night’s sleep:
- Refrain from alcohol within three hours of bedtime
- Wrap up any remaining work at least two hours before bed
- Turn off electronics one hour before bed
Establishing a bedtime routine and sticking to it can drastically change the type and quality of the sleep you get. When you take care of yourself you feel better, which in turn helps you present the best version of yourself to the world.
Fidgeting indicates discomfort and tells others that you are looking for a way out of a situation.
Avoid wearing dangling bracelets, loose zippers, and other distracting items that lend themselves to nervous fidgeting. At first, you might struggle to occupy your hands as you adjust, but you can adapt by lacing your fingers together or keeping your hands in your pockets instead.
Another fidgety habit you might be guilty of is playing with your hair. If you have long hair and you find yourself constantly twirling it or tucking strands behind your ear, consider tying it back in a style that will keep it out of your face and difficult to fiddle with.
Your peers probably appreciate your efforts to mask bad breath, but chewing gum is perceived by many to be unprofessional or inappropriate in certain settings.
You may get away with chewing gum if you stay discreet about it by steering clear of bubbles and loud smacking—but why risk a bad first impression? Breath mints can freshen your breath just as effectively as gum, and they are far less controversial, with fewer negative associations.
Very few among us have the gift of being “always on.” The rest of us must work at it. You may still want to practice conventional first-impression hacks like eye contact and conversation skills, but these five steps will set you up to leave everyone you meet with a more positive first impression.
Kelsey Down is a Nashville transplant living in Salt Lake City, who writes about everything from innovative tech to personal and family wellness. Follow her on Twitter @kladown23.
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