Remember that old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”? It’s true. Making the right first impression is important.
Within a few seconds of walking into a room, people will judge you just on your entrance and physical appearance. Does part of you resist that, or feel like it’s unfair? Sadly that’s the reality. (And if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize you probably do it too).
So how can we give ourselves the best possible chance of creating the right impression when we meet people for the first time?
Don’t get bogged down thinking about the negative aspects of it. Instead think of this as your opportunity to assert yourself as an assertive person.
Being assertive is the key to a successful first impression
When I’m training and providing leadership coaching to workers in the UK, I emphasize assertiveness. Being assertive is so beneficial for us in our personal and professional lives, because:
- we have a much easier time of life
- we don’t feel hard-done-by (victim mentality)
- we have relationships built on respect and equality
- we know how to get what we need whilst looking after the needs of others
Even if you’re not naturally assertive you can do some simple things to give yourself a head start. Here are just 3 of the tips I give my clients:
- Make eye contact
- Stand tall
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Tip #1: Make eye contact
Assertive people aren’t afraid to make eye contact. They are not hiding and they have nothing to hide.
Think about how you feel when you meet someone for the first time and they don’t meet your gaze? Or they shift their eyes too quickly. There’s something about trust here I think. They don’t feel comfortable enough to keep eye contact and that in turn makes us feel uncomfortable. Okay, let’s not judge too quickly here, it could be that they are just shy, so you keep that friendly eye contact (not stare please!) going and move to step 2.
Tip #2: Smile
Smile. They say ‘smile and the world smiles back at you’ and it’s so true.
When you smile at someone and they respond, that’s like giving us the green light. It’s saying, ‘yes, I’m interested’. There is something very engaging, very welcoming about a smile and it makes us feel safe enough to approachable the other person.
Assertive people don’t have worried looks, they look relaxed, comfortable and at ease with themselves and the world.
Try this out: Next time you walk into a room full of people, just notice as you approach people and smile, who smiles back and who doesn’t. Who are you more likely to stay and chat with?
#3: Stand Tall
How you carry yourself and stand has a big impact, internally and externally. Your stance affects:
- The impression you make on others
- How assertive and in control you will actually feel on the inside
This is not wishful thinking. Hunched shoulders put our head lower than if we had a straight back and squarer shoulder position.
Just try this out now. Even in a sitting position you should be able to feel the difference this makes. By having our shoulders rolled back (then relaxed downwards), this changes the way we hold our back and head. To the observer we look more open and approachable. With shoulders rolled back and chest open, this automatically has an impact on the way you will breathe (my next blog goes into more detail about this).
And if you are standing you will look and feel more assertive with your feet slightly apart, grounded.
Then just add that friendly smile and eye contact and who could fail to be drawn in?
Want to get more tips to increase your confidence at work?
These are only 3 of the tips I give my coaching clients to help them face pressures at work. Work with me on a 1-2-1 basis and let’s take things to the next level for you. Let’s you and I start the conversation here.