As a rule, people judge others within the first 3 to 5 seconds of meeting them. The judgment is made subliminally, without conscious thought, so it is important that individuals do their best to make a good impression, professionally and personally. Oftentimes, it is the simplest concepts of good manners or business etiquette that are forgotten.
The Basics of Good Impressions
- Be on time.
- Dress appropriately for an occasion.
- Address everyone respectfully, such as by their last name.
- Maintain eye contact, but do not stare.
- Speak clearly, confidently, and do not rush through your thoughts or sentences.
- Offer a firm handshake.
Smile, Smile, Smile
A confident, relaxed smile is the best way to put other people at ease. Scientists have found that smiling is an important social cue, and that other people will respond to smiles on both a conscious and subliminal level. If a person smiles in joy, others around them will smile, and their brain activity will actually mimic the activity in the brain of the person that initiated the smile.
Good Manners Never Go Out of Style
While your parents should have taught you good manners growing up, here’s a quick primer on the basics that can really make a difference on your first impression.
Good manners are indicative of your respect for yourself and others. “Please,” “Thank You,” and “You’re Welcome,” are not meaningless words; they demonstrate to others that you value their effort, thought, and/or generosity. Using socially significant words, offer behavioral cues to other people when you meet for the first time; this is particularly true when engaging with your elders.
Nevertheless, good manners should not be reserved for superiors, but extended to everyone with whom you interact. Maintaining consistency with your interactions will avoid others thinking you play favorites or are a boss’s pet.
Attire and Dress
It is usually better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Once again, the way a person dresses can demonstrate their respect for whoever they are meeting.
Eye contact is another important cue, and those who do not make eye contact place themselves at a social disadvantage, especially during public speaking. Most people believe that those who do not make eye contact are lying or avoiding something, or that they lack the confidence to interact effectively with other people.
When meeting someone for the first time, it is important to make your words count, especially when it’s your turn to answer interview questions. Additionally, others may not be able to understand you if you do not speak clearly and in a voice loud enough to be heard.
A clear, well-modulated speaking voice is an important social tool, and contributes to the ease of communication and a good first impression.