NO SECOND CHANCES AT A FIRST IMPRESSION.

Photo: Priscilla Du Preez

The art of winning over people is a true talent that comes natural to some people but for most including myself, we struggle to make good, long lasting first impressions.Unlike so many things in life where we have a chance at a second shot, no one can ever have a second chance to make a first impression. The information people receive about you on first meeting speaks volumes and might as well lead their approach in the way they deal, interact, or feel towards you.



Photo: Christina- wocintechchat.com

Psychology today.com transcribes that it takes a mere seven seconds for one party to build a first impression of another party. This impression often lasts forever and is very difficult to change. As young adults who are entering the business world and meeting new people all the time, it is quite important that we relay positive welcoming characters to others in order to solicit a positive response.

When you meet a person for the first time, even before they talk to you, your brain registers their presence and creates a column that is full of question marks. Though, within a few seconds, some of these question marks will start to be filled up with first your physical appearance. Tall, handsome, beautiful, smart, shabby, clean etc are some of the words that will fill these blanks. Some other mental inscriptions may also include sensory attributes like scent. 

If for example I went into an interview room with a nice scent, I may find myself taking more time inside the room because my scent makes the other person feel calm. This is a psychological trick that restaurants, banks, and other businesses use to make sales. Restaurants for instance use food scents and aromas to keep customers in their space because the brain is subconsciously tricked by the nice scent. Banks on the other hand incorporate a neutral and sometimes almost dusty smell to make sure the people inside want to leave as soon as possible.

Photo: Markus Winkler
Photo: Markus Winkler

When talking to people for the first time therefore, your physical appearance and scent either welcomes them or makes them uncomfortable. On the other hand, when you speak, make sure you are looking people in the eye and in a good posture as this projects confidence which may open trust. If in serious situations like job interviews, short straight forward answers are ideal. Nonetheless, if on a romantic date with a person, try to be chatty but not so much that you are talking a lot. Allow the person to speak as much as you do. This can be possible with small talk; that is talking about general unimportant day to day things that the both of you would have opinion about. However, avoid sensitive or controversial  topics like politics or gender rights as this may lead to arguments which are totally bad for first impression.

First impression is not as simple as it sounds because the two people you meet within the space of a minute will have almost completely different opinions about you. For instance, I walk into a room and unintentionally knock a person’s papers from his or her hands but do not realise and continue. In this person’s mind, I may be registered as rude. But a few seconds later I notice a pen on the floor and pick it up to return to the owner. In this case I may be deemed helpful.

At the end of it all, we cannot surely please everyone we meet but should be able to control our character to be better prepared to make good first impressions although we cannot control what other people think of us.

This article was written after research online at mindtools.com, psycologytoday.com, discussions from Charles Duhigg’s book ‘Power of Habit’ but mostly my personal experiences and observations.



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