Want to make a positive first impression? There’s more to it than popping a Tic-Tac.
Isn’t it strange how so many people are obsessed with how they appear, and how well they might impress someone, yet so many do it so badly? This is true in private life as well as at work.
Everyone has situations in their lives where they want to make a positive and strong impression on others. These situations include going for a job interview, providing sales or service to clients, making presentations, delivering training, even networking at social functions.
The challenge of learning to make a strong first impression is particularly difficult for some people who may have low self-awareness or low self-esteem, and trying to teach young people can be a challenge for some employers.
We are finding it challenging now making training videos that will appeal to the new generation in the workplace. They don’t really want this kind of information spelt out like a classroom lesson, yet seem keen to talk about the issues.
Many believe that some people are naturally better at making strong impressions than others. It is true that there are some characteristics that help make a positive impression. For example, height and physical attractiveness have been found to relate to success in job interviews. Certain personality traits, such as being outgoing and extraverted can be more attractive than others. But it is possible to learn to make a stronger first impression, and to build on one’s own strengths to achieve a positive result.
We have just made a new comedy training video on first impressions, and to try and get a good discussion going we have built a storyline around a guy going on a date – and we see him trying to work out the best way to be impressive.
We also tried to build in some points for the workplace that people have asked us to cover in some shape or form that we have avoided in earlier training films. The issue of hygiene and having sweaty armpits for one thing has been a challenge. Well now it is a talking point that can come out of this program.
Younger people that review the film really like it, and do start talking about what makes for a good impression – so I guess that is a good start. But the older generation is not so sure – and neither am I!
So what are some good ways to make a positive impression?
- Be on time – for appointments, calls, meetings.
- Be clean and tidy.
- Look smart – look the part, dress to a higher standard if in doubt.
- Show interest.
- Be friendly and genuine.
- Ask questions.
- Be able to talk about yourself in an interesting way.
- Listen and follow up on what is being said to you.
- Offer suggestions and ideas that are practical.
- Don’t be a bore.
- Remember details.
- Deliver on promises and offer more where possible.
- Plan and prepare.
- Thank people.
- Offer help.
- Support others.
- Ask for feedback.
Eve Ash is a psychologist and co-producer with Peter Quarry of Developing Emotional Competence (from the Take Away Training Series), and also the co-creator of the Emotional Competence Indicator, a 360 degree assessment tool now in 15 languages. www.7dimensions.com.au
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