How to make a good first impression

There have been several different studies in to how long it takes to form a first impression of someone. What they have have found is that within seconds of meeting someone we decide whether we like them, whether we trust them, how competent they are, how dominant they are and how warm they are. This is called “thin slicing.” Thin slicing is drawing large conclusions from small amounts of data. Whilst on the surface it may seem as if we are applying our prejustices as with many things in psychology, it all goes back to the brains desire to keep us alive. These snap judgements are basically trying to answer the question “is the person a friend or a foe?” Put another way, “does this person want to kill me?” 

Society has evolved much faster than the brain and we don’t have to worry as much about being hit over the head with a club anymore. However we still use these judgements to decide whether we want to be friends with someone, whether we want to do business with a person, whether we want to hire someone and whether we want to help someone. So it is important to know how to make a good first impression. Fortunately these studies have found which traits we base these judgements on.

Here are some scientifically proven ways to make a good first impression.

Make eye contact and smile.

Make eye contact when you first meet someone and periodically throughout the conversation. Studies on job interviews have found that candidates who make strong eye contact are judged higher offered jobs more often. Eye contact is viewed as a sign of self confidence and gives the impression of trust. Practice trying to notice the eye color of every person you meet. Once you have that you can move your eyes away to avoid being awkward. 

Smile. As you introduce yourself give them a warm smile. This tells the other person you are friendly and approachable. Smiling gives the signal you are happy to see them and that you are a “friend.”

Stand up straight when you meet people. Good posture is a sign of confidence. Taller people are also percieved as “leaders” so the taller you can appear the more authority you will convey. If you are on a chair, sit with on from the front half of the seat with both feet on the floor and with a straight back. Leaning in slightly can show you are interested.

Keep your arms in an open position and avoid crossing them. Mirroring what the other person is doing with their arms and hands is a way to use your posture to subconsciously build rapport. If they sit with both hands on the table, subtly copy them.

Shaking hands is one of the quickest ways to form a connection. One study found it can take three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level of rapport as a single, good handshake. A study on employability found people with strong handshakes were seen as more favorable candidates.

A good handshake should be firm, warm and dry. Being firm conveys confidence. A warm hand signifies a warm personality. Having a dry hand means you are not sweaty and nervous.

So there you go, 3 science based ways to make a good first impression.