You meet someone new almost every day. The meeting could be a brief exchange with a cashier at the store, a new co-worker or a friend of a friend. Regardless, we make judgments of people within the first seven seconds of meeting them. Those first impressions can make or break a future relationship.
There have been many articles and books written about first impressions. I’m not going to regurgitate them here. Instead, I’m going to address a few not so commonly talked about traits that will ruin a first impression.
Not talking – Earlier today, I introduced myself to a young couple. One was very friendly, outgoing and talkative. The other didn’t even say a word. It was a unique encounter. I had a great first impression of her because of the outgoing personality. The other, however, was not so impressive and it was because he didn’t talk whatsoever. When shaking hands, he didn’t even say hello.
You can be too quiet. Because I’m a parent of three girls, I believe in the “silence is golden” mantra. However, if you’re meeting someone for the first time, at least speak up to show you demand attention or respect. Don’t be the mouse in the corner. My first impression of him was not good.
Talk too much – On the other end of the spectrum, people can talk too much during a first encounter. I was in a meeting the other day and the other person would not stop talking. There were four people in the room but one person dominated the conversation. That’s not good.
Use nicknames or pet phrases – One of my biggest pet peeves is when a stranger calls me “Hun” or “Darling.” It happens frequently in gas stations, especially south of where I live. What makes her think it is okay to call me that?
Some people like to be called by their first names. Others go by their last names. If you don’t know how they like to be addressed, always resort to the full first name. If the person is older than you, you might resort to the formal title of Mr. or Ms.
I experience something similar all the time. I go by Bert but my full first name is Robert. I will receive phone calls or emails at least once a week addressed to Robert or Bob. Robert is okay. It’s my legal name. It tells me, however, that I do not know the sender so I will very quickly delete the message. The messages for Bob drive me crazy. Why would the sender assume he can call me Bob and expect a return call or email? Talk about a bad first impression.
Weak handshake – Handshakes have been discussed in detail by many people so I won’t dive into it much. Nothing is worse than a weak handshake. I feel dirty just shaking someone’s hand that is limp. Yuck. It’s just not right. Grab the other person’s entire hand and shake firmly. A stronger grip is much better than a weak grip.
Not making eye contact – Eye contact shows interest. If you are interested in me, make eye contact with me. If you do not make eye contact, my first impression is that you can’t be trusted, you have no confidence or you’re disengaged. Look me in the eye.
The next time you meet someone new, remember these tips. Make a good first impression on everyone you meet. You never know who might be your next boss, employee or friend. Also, try to not judge too much based on the first impression. Unless the first impression was absolutely terrible, give people second chances. You never know what might come from it.