“Never lose the first impression which has moved you.”
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot
Are your first impressions and encounters causing people to lean into your conversations or lean back?
We’ve all heard the importance of first impressions, but do you know just how important they are when it comes to the initial encounter with a future new client?
First impressions become a filter many use for all future interactions with someone. In some instances it becomes difficult to change someone’s first impression of us.
Whether they are accurate or not, it normally takes a long time and concerted effort to change a first impression.
Recent research by SuperOffice, around positive first impressions, shows that “72% of people are likely to spread the word to six or more people.”
In a business world where we are digitally empowered and hyper-connected, think about the role first impressions play in the “what happens next” conversations.
A first impression can be formed as a result of a conversation, however; it may also be created by someone catching a glimpse of you, from a distance. Now, think about your voice mails, emails and social interactions.
Are you getting the picture?
In our social media crazed world, first impressions are no longer face to face. How you carry yourself online, and on any social platform, will play a significant role in perception and first impressions.
This begs the question…
Are your first impressions leading to cohesive connection or incoherent disengagement?
I’m a firm believer in the “What is old is forever new.”
When it comes to the importance of first impressions, let’s look no further than to Dale Carnegie, as he was the legendary people-skills leader and the author of the internationally acclaimed book, How To Win Friends And Influence People.
The importance of first impressions was crystal clear to Carnegie. He dedicated the time and experimented with the best ways to reliably make a good impression.
Carnegie held these six rules above all others…
- Become genuinely interested in other people
- Remember that a person’s name is to them the sweetest and most important sound in any language
- Be a good listener and encourage other people to talk about themselves
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
- Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely
With trust and credibility being anemically low within the sales world, let’s pause for a moment and ask yourself, “Am I applying the six rules by Dale Carnegie to my initial encounters with new sales opportunities?”
Imagine people using these words in describing their first meeting or interaction with you… confident, engaged, genuine, honest, humble, trusting, joyful and calming.
The more comfortable you make someone feel in that first interaction, the more comfortable they will become in sharing things about themselves and their business.
TRUST AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
First impressions, are they helping or hindering you in your ability to build trust?
When meeting someone for the first time, we are met with so many possibilities; do we judge based on their appearance? By their handshake? By their looks, voice or how they carry themselves?
This plays out in our personal lives and the same applies to our professional lives.
Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at the Harvard Business School, found that our first impressions of others provide the answers to two main questions:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person’s capabilities?
She went on to say, two people who meet are questioning, “Can I trust that this person has good intentions toward me?” and “Is this person capable?”
These are the main questions we are asking ourselves when looking at developing trust and maintaining it.
Now, think about how this plays out with your first-in meetings, your first interactions, and how you carry yourself.
To further reinforce the point, allow this quote courtesy of Amy Cuddy sink in,
“If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative. A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.”
What gift are you leaving in your first encounters? Is it the gift of coherent connection or incoherent disengagement?
I must ask… Are you fully engaged, intentionally listening and bringing your authentic self to your initial conversations and encounters?
FIRST IMPRESSIONS START WITH CONNECTION
I would like for you to put yourself in the shoes of the other person you are meeting for the first time, do you wonder if this runs through their mind?
“Stop trying to impress me. I can make up my own mind about whether I like you; trust you; or even believe you. You don’t have to make up my mind for me.”
Human connection must be placed front and center as the facilitator to a positive first impression. We’re all wired to connect. It is part of the prescription for health and happiness.
It’s how we influence and lead.
Are you allowing people to see the real you?
To further expand upon the importance of first impressions and connection, allow me to introduce you to Erving Goffman. He was a Canadian sociologist who developed the concept of Dramaturgy.
It’s based upon the idea that our lives are on constant display as if we’re actors.
He believed when we are born into the world, we are being placed on a stage. And this stage is called everyday life.
He believed all our interactions consist of adjusting to other people and our roles in their lives. We enact these roles in the company of others, who are in turn enacting their roles in interaction with us.
He believed that whatever we do, we are playing out some role on the stage of life.
In his work, he noted there is a front stage and a backstage. As we go on with our lives, we are mostly on the front stage. This applies to how we are at work, at the grocery store, or when meeting someone new. And the backstage is where we become our true selves. It’s our private place.
Only our closest friends see us when we’re backstage. But since many fake their personality with everyone, all they see is the front stage.
Imagine for a moment, if first impressions matter, then are people seeing your backstage or front stage life?
A positive first impression leads to cohesion.
If first impressions matter, then what are you doing about it?
LEAVE LASTING IMPRESSIONS
If what others think of you (think initial meeting) matter, then I ask you to pay attention to how others see you the first time you meet.
I would ask you to remember the person you’re in front of, as they may be saying to themselves:
- Do you see me?
- Do you hear me?
- Do you get me?
- Does what I say matter to you?
J.K. Rowling went on to say,
“A good first impression can work wonders.”
Think about this and your first interactions.
What is going through their head?