The pretty lady you noticed at the party…
You approach her, say hi & introduce yourself…
She smiles & does the same.
You chat for a bit…things are going great…
Then it’s time to go…and you forgot her name!
- Risk calling her “girl” or “babe”?
- Ask for her name again?
- Try and remember her name – but risk calling her the wrong one?
Whatever the case…
Goodbye, first impression.
That’s one of 10 huge mistakes which destroy people’s first impressions of you.
Find out the rest…
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First Impression Mistake #1 – A Limp Fish Handshake
Imagine you had to attend this costume party. Superhero themed. You never liked dressing up and stuff, so you made a little compromise and came to the party with a Spider-Man mask on – and normal clothes. What a killjoy!
That idea of “not going all the way” is found in a limp fish handshake. With only 2 or 3 fingers barely touching the other person’s hand, it can imply many negative things. Either you feel too important to shake their hand, you’re not comfortable making physical contact, or you’re too shy and scared of people.
Keep in mind that how you shake hands says a lot about your character (according to behavioral research). A strong handshake displays total confidence, plus a commanding presence that doesn’t overpower the other person. It meets these requirements:
- Stand/sit with good posture
- Smile/have a pleasant vibe
- Make good eye contact
- Give a light squeeze (press until you feel pressure on your skin and then stop)
- Hold the grip for only 2 seconds (anything longer will make you seem weird or desperate)
- Call the person by name (when you meet someone and they give their name, repeat it back to them like “Nice to meet you, Thomas. I’m Antonio.”)
First Impression Mistake #2 – Not Making Eye Contact
We’ve been taught since childhood to look people in the eye during conversations. But many of us forget that it’s just like chewing food – there’s a right and wrong way to do it.
So whether you’re the one talking or listening, follow these guidelines to making eye contact with anyone you meet:
- Keep your eyes up. Avoid looking anywhere below the person’s neck – as this may lead them to think you’re checking them out.
- Use different facial expressions. A blank face can make you come across as disinterested. Smile, nod your head or do any small action that proves you’re not a robot.
- Never stare. Staring can make the other person uncomfortable, or distract them from what they’re supposed to be saying or hearing. Look away for a quick second every now and then. This slight movement shows you’re actively engaged in the conversation.
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First Impression Mistake #4 – Smelling Like Crap / Overusing Cologne
Never underestimate body odor. For a lot of men, using deodorant is enough to counter it.
And that’s okay – although you should get some honest feedback from a friend just to double-check.
But here’s what surprises me more: roughly 80% of men don’t regularly use a fragrance.
Why? It seems to be less about laziness or money concerns – and more of a lack of knowledge on the subject.
That’s why you should take the initiative to read up on the differences between fragrances, colognes, and other scent products in the market. And after that, you can read about the 10 colognes that women love on men.
But do NOT overdo your cologne. Always stick to 1-2 light sprays per body part.
It should target specific areas known as “pulse points” – the bare chest, back of the neck and ears, and wrists (without rubbing them together). Those parts have a strong blood flow in which heat releases the scent more quickly – and intensifies it.
First Impression Mistake #5 – Weak Body Language
Did you know that your body language actually has an impact on hormonal levels – even if it’s as simple as repositioning your arms or legs?
As much we’re unaware of it, certain poses can send positive signals to the brain. And allow you to do things while being more relaxed and confident.
There are two basic categories of poses – high-power (open and tension-free) and low-power (guarded and closed off).
Low-power poses signal defensiveness or anxiety – since you tend to lean away from people or point your feet towards another direction.
If you notice your shoulders slightly raised, your chin lowered down as if to cover the neck, or your hands clasped in front of you – those positions can send the wrong signals. UNLEARN them immediately.
Here are some high-power poses to master instead:
- Standing with your hands resting lightly on the hips and your legs spread (with the neck, chest, and stomach all uncovered)
- Sitting with your legs spread, feet flat on the ground, and palms face down on a table
- Sitting with your legs crossed and hands tucked behind the head
- Sitting with your feet propped up and hands tucked behind the head
- Sitting with your legs slightly spread, chin raised, and chest puffed
But watch out for angry or intimidating poses – since those lie on the opposite end of the spectrum. Don’t have your upper body lean to the front, or stand with your dominant leg a half-step forward (since it’ll look like you’re about to attack the other person).
First Impression Mistake #6 – Not Listening Well
Don’t you think there’s a reason we’re born with 2 eyes, 2 ears, and 1 mouth? It probably means we ought to listen and observe more than we talk.
Make it a point to listen without interrupting. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak. And don’t forget to maintain good eye contact while listening.
Being a great listener isn’t about silence. It means asking questions which show you were paying attention, encouraging the speaker to go on.
We all have a little ego in us – which can take a blow whenever people act like they’re disregarding what we have to say.
So have the decency to let anyone you just met speak without being cut off. Remember that basic respect goes a long way in solidifying any new connections you form (especially in your professional life).
First Impression Mistake #7 – Saying Nothing
Yes – it’s a bad thing to be too quiet or reserved when meeting new people. Just saying “Hi. How are you?” is NOT enough.
So always be prepared with some personal stories worth sharing. Make them emotionally appealing – better if there’s a happy ending!
Those stories need a hook that puts you in the best possible light. But also remember to keep them under 3 minutes long to avoid “dragging” parts.
Make sure you have a variety of stories to tailor to different audiences – whether it’s a young kid, a high schooler, a young professional or a senior citizen.
This helps a lot when you work with people for the first time. While you do want to be careful with your words in an office environment, being too quiet can actually hurt your productivity. So don’t treat your workplace like a library or sacred temple.
Always show enthusiasm. Be proactive in exchanging ideas with people you just met. Steer the conversation in a way that allows both parties to get to know each other. That’s how you’ll really stand out.
First Impression Mistake #8 – Having No Sense Of Humor
Some of us tend to fall into this trap – where we’re so focused on making a good impression that we take everything too seriously. But 90% of the time, humor is actually a good thing!
People appreciate jokes that are made in good taste – especially in moments when they meet someone new. Those moments can get awkward pretty quickly, but they can be the highlights of the day if you get everybody to laugh.
So do some research and make a list of “high-level” jokes worth sharing with others. What exactly are those? They fall into categories like intelligent, sarcastic, dual-meaning – things you can say at the right time that fit with the context. Anything funny that people will quickly pick up.
Note: Don’t rely on “low-level” jokes that are crude or slapstick. They might still get people laughing, but there’s also a chance you might end up (1) offending them instead or (2) looking stupid.
First Impression Mistake #9 – Showing Tics Or Nervousness
Is it normal to feel nerves? Yes. Do all of us have our own tics? Absolutely.
But there comes a point where those nervous habits become too distracting for the other person. Not everyone is going to see them as signs of nerves. Some people may think you’re not listening to them or not interested in talking.
So take a good look at yourself. What do you do subconsciously? Ask your closest friends if you’re not sure what they are. They could be the simplest gestures that occur 20-30 times in one sitting:
- Frequent eye blinking, nose-twitching
- Head-jerking, shrugging
- Shaking or playing with one arm
- Saying clutch words between phrases (avoid such words – they can downgrade the strength and quality of your speech, or make you appear less intelligent)
What’s the best way to combat those tendencies? Relax! Find time to take a deep breath and calm down before meeting someone for the first time (especially if it’s a date, client or VIP). Do meditation or yoga to train you to be more relaxed before nerve-wracking situations.
And instead of blurting out clutch words, learn to embrace silent moments in the middle of conversations. It’s okay to pause now and then so you can think. Sometimes, pauses can be used to emphasize your points and give the other person more time to absorb them.
First Impression Mistake #10 – Forgetting Names
We all give a lot of importance to our own name. So it does sting a bit when you encounter people who are so quick to forget it. Or worse – people who call you by the wrong name.
Don’t get me wrong – forgetting names is one of the most common, innocent mistakes out there. But there’s also a tinge of rudeness that comes with it no matter what.
So follow these tips and techniques to remember people’s names when you first meet them:
- Repeat the name right after they introduce themselves. Make it fit naturally into your sentence like “Nice to meet you, Bill” or “How long have you been in Microsoft, Bill?”
- Spell out the name in your head. It helps to get a mental picture together with the sound you hear. If that person gives their business card, glance at it while you’re having a chat.
- Try associating the name with a similar-sounding word that’s sort of relevant to that person (something like “Mark from Manhattan” or “Sophie who works in sales“).