Did you know that a first impression is made in a matter of seconds….and could last years?
First impressions matter and they happen instantly thanks to a phenomenon called “thin slicing.” Someone you just met will take into account a few cues like your physical appearance, nonverbal and verbal language and will immediately paint you into a category of someone they should like or dislike.
In a study by Nalini Ambady, students were asked to evaluate their lecturer based on their likability and other personality traits before any lectures had taken place. Two years later, those same ratings corresponded with the student’s final assessments of the lecturer.
Basically, the first impression they had lasted two years and only confirmed their initial impression.
Now that you know how crucial first impressions are, I want to share 4 actionable tips that you can use to give a positive first impression of the gentleman that you truly are.
Tip #1: People judge you based on appearance
Beardsmen, you should be proud of your man manes. It’s part of your style, and people are either going to love it or hate it, but that’s out of your control. What is within your control, however, is how you groom your beard and yourself, and what you’re wearing. What you wear and what you look like has a big impact on first impressions. Some people may say that caring too much about your appearance is superficial, but the truth is in the numbers. A study from the Evolution of Human Behavior Journal found the following:
- Men wearing a polo shirt featuring a designer logo was rated as higher status compared to the same man whose logo was photo-shopped out.
- Participants watching a man interviewing for a job on video rated the one with a shirt with a designer logo as more suitable for the job and deserving of a 9% higher salary than the same man without a logo.
- Wearing a designer logo resulted in twice as many contributions when soliciting for charity.
Who knew that having a logo on your shirt could affect your salary?
In line with what you wear, your overall physical appearance matters as well. If you’re reading this blog you’re probably already on it, but taking the time to come across as well-groomed can heighten other people’s perceptions of you (and your self-perception as well).
Tip #2: Smile
Your nonverbal communication also has a huge impact on first impressions. Smiling is one of the most underrated nonverbal cues you can use to come across as likeable, approachable and confident.
Because smiling has a number of positive effects.
First off, when you smile you make others feel good just by seeing you smile. This is thanks to a phenomenon called mirror neurons. Basically, when someone sees you smile, they experience feelings associated with smiling like joy and happiness. This in turn makes you come across as approachable and likable.
Secondly, smiling also makes you feel good. In an interesting study (PDF download) by Martin and Stepper, subjects were asked to place a pencil on their lips (to simulate a smile) while reading cartoons.
Subjects who had the pencil above their lips rated the comics funnier compared to their peers who were not instructed to place a pencil above their lips. Other studies have shown that smiling makes people feel more positive and optimistic by doing nothing other than forcing a quick smile. How’s that for the body-mind connection?
Tip #3 Get to common ground asap
We like people like ourselves, it’s human nature. A Harvard study determined that the same network in the brain is activated when we think of ourselves and when we make judgments of other people we perceive to be like ourselves. This part of the brain was not activated when making judgments of people who we deem as “different.”
It turns out that when we find one commonality with someone, we assume that they are like us in many other ways. You may have experienced this when you’ve immediately “hit it off” with someone you just met who went to the same college or works in the same industry as you. That bit of common ground was enough to give you a positive first impression.
You can get to common ground quickly by simply listening to what the other person has to say using this two-step process.
Step 1: Start off by asking some open-ended questions like:
- What do you do for a living?
- What do you think about [XYZ current event]?
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
- Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever vacationed?
Step 2: When there are answers that provide a bit of common ground, make the connection!
- I also work in technology, I’ve been at X company for the past 5 years. What company are you working for?
- You just went to Brazil? Awesome! I went there last year for New Year’s and it was the most incredible experience of my life…
- I’m also into surfing. My favorite spot is Hawaii. What is your favorite surf spot?
Making a few common connections will immediately give off a positive and likable first impression. Now you have the scripts to make it happen!
Making an impact in a first impression matters. People judge you so quickly that you only have a few seconds to come across as the gentleman that you are. By minding what you wear, smiling and getting to common ground with someone you can give a lasting first impression as a smart, likable and confident individual.
About The Author:
Katrina Razavi is the founder of CommunicationforNerds.com. If you liked this article, visit her site to sign up for a free three-video mini course called: How to Have Charismatic Conversations. It covers 6 secrets to social confidence, the #1 strategy to improve your life and how to have natural conversations….even if you’re socially awkward.