We live in a world where we're forced to make snap decisions throughout the day. It takes us nanoseconds to figure out if we like or dislike a movie, a new kind of cuisine, or a pair of shoes. Even our social and professional connections are not exempt from these 'instant judgements'. Within five minutes of a date, we can tell whether we like the other person or want to 'unfriend' them online the minute they leave. Similarly, in the workplace context, gut-feel and mutual 'vibes' play a strong role in guiding important decisions like hiring or concluding business deals.
What this means for you is that to 'win' in these situations, you need to grab that extremely narrow window of opportunity to make a great first impression. Coming off as assertive, confident, interesting and likeable will make people instantly give you the benefit of the doubt. And that makes the road ahead much easier for you.
We've all had moments where we walked away from a meeting, thinking to ourselves: "I really messed that up. What's wrong with me?"
Fortunately, making a strong first impression isn't as complicated as you'd think. Staying away from these five common mistakes would be a good start.
Ignoring The Unwritten Rules
Every meeting or event you attend has its own unwritten rules—and these tend to vary. Take punctuality for example. You may be judged severely if you show up a little late for a job interview; but at a friend's party, it might be excusable. Other unwritten rules extend to how you open the discussion, the way you dress, and your attitude. It is important to know these unwritten rules beforehand and prepare accordingly, so that you don't stick out like a sore thumb.
Trying Too Hard
We've all read about the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact. While those are great, don't go overboard either out of enthusiasm or desperation. Keep the handshake warm and firm, without squeezing the other's fingers or pumping their hand up and down excessively. Similarly, don't spook the other person by staring unblinkingly into their irises; just keep your gaze in the area around their forehead and eyes while talking to them. And don't forget to smile when your eyes meet—it conveys friendliness and subtle approval.
When you meet someone for the first time, one of the worst mistakes is indicating that your phone, your watch, the exit door—or worse, the person at the next table—is more interesting than the person you're meeting. Breaking off a conversation to check your messages, changing the topic altogether, or repeatedly forgetting what the other person says is a complete no-no.
Revealing Your Biases
A first-time meeting isn't the right time to air your prejudices and grievances, no matter how justified they might seem. Would you give a job to someone who spends the first ten minutes ranting about how his previous employers were "stupid" and couldn't spot his "real potential"? Staying away from potentially controversial or polarising discussions is important, until you know the other person well enough to take such liberties.
Proper grooming is critical for leaving a good impression. It's not complicated; just ensure your appearance, from your hair to your shoes, is simple, yet stylish. Make sure your clothes are clean, fit you well, and are free of unsightly creases and crumples. Take some time to invest in proper grooming, and you might well be rewarded with an admiring smile that indicates that half the battle's been won then and there.
Being well-dressed and cultivating a sharp sense of style gives you an automatic edge over others in professional and social situations. So don't let wrinkled clothes diminish your chances of success. Bajaj Electricals' #PressToImpress campaign aims to highlight how wearing smart and wrinkle-free clothes can be an important step in helping you make a great first impression.