Taking Control of First Impressions (Guest Blog by Britany Wallace)
First impressions are important, but another person’s view of us is ‘outside our control’. So what can we control? The most important thing in our control is our personal commitment to ‘leading ourselves’. If we can’t lead ourselves we can’t lead others. The first step is recognizing that ‘Everything We Do In Life Counts’. This is a constant process and includes everything we do both public and private.
Every choice we make must have a purpose. There are no insignificant choices in life. The small things always matter. What are some other things that COUNT?
- Self-discipline in every area of our life
- Developing Personal Character
- Personal Development
- Commitment to Excellence
- How we invest our energies and time
- How we treat others
If we take this approach in life our ‘first impressions’ will be driven by a set of core beliefs that stand on their own. It is said that we become the 5 people we spend the most time around. Look at your 5 closest friends (their character, habits, attitudes, etc) and you will see yourself. If we are committed to developing the character qualities of a leader, we will draw to ourselves people who are just like we are. The ‘lasting impressions’ of those closest to us are the ones that really count. First impressions will take care of themselves.
What is a First Impression?
We know what first impressions are but we DON’T know how much they can help or harm you and the relationships you try to build. A first impression is formed between the first 10 seconds and 5 minutes you are in someone’s presence. PROBLEM: They are private and we have no idea what other people are thinking about us.
- Can improving or degrading
- Are private
- Can be informed and influenced by personal values and biases; therefore preempting the impression to a particular state (before the meeting even occurs)
- Are formed based on our actions and reactions, language, tone, appearance, even environments (i.e. what or whom we surround ourselves with)
We may not know or want to believe it (Wizard’s First Rule), but people are watching us… Yes, WATCHING… Scary, right? But true.
Can I Control the First Impression Formed?
Yes, and no. We can control it by preparing for that first meeting. If we do, the first impression will be more stable and likely more positive. However, Geoffrey James cites that there isn’t a logical thought process which individuals experience. Truth is, it’s a reaction both immediate and unconscious. Many sources detail how to form a positive first impression, but they want you to ACT LIKE SOMETHING YOU AREN’T!
David Wygant discusses that your self-confidence is the most important part of your first impression. Low confidence makes it hard for anyone else to believe in you. The best way to market your personal brand is BUZZ marketing. Let people talk about you. LeadershipFreak says that other people will talk about you if you let them. Let other people’s words give you confidence and pride in who you are.
First impressions determine how each interaction proceeds from that point forward. The first impression made on anyone is foundational.
Take Initiative. Research:
- The person
- The company
- Purpose for meeting
- That person’s values
- Their superiors (subordinates)
- Try to find a contact within the company or close to them in the hierarchy
Mark Oakes encourages us to monitor and protect what we can control about our first impressions. You CAN control what you do and say that people will see and interpret; not their thoughts. Be cognizant of those things; use them to your advantage.
How do I Control My First Impressions?
- Stay Positive
- Be yourself
- Be confident
- Let others market your brand
- Pay attention to your actions and words; they can help or hurt you
- Be unforgettable; not memorable
- Ask relevant, interesting questions
- Do preliminary research
- Ask for information to look into and follow-up on
“Wizard’s First Rule: People will believe anything you tell them because A) they are afraid it is true or B) they want it to be true.” -Zeddicus Zul Zorander, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
Edberg, Hendrik. How to Make A Great First Impression. Retrieved from: http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2007/03/16/how-to-make-a-great-first-impression/.
Goodkind, Terry. Wizard’s First Rule.
James, Geoffrey. 2011. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505183_162-28554948-10391735/how-important-are-first-impressions/.
Laskowski, Lenny. 1998. How to Create A Great First Impression. Retrieved from: http://www.ljlseminars.com/impress.htm.
Willis, Janine & Alexander Todorov. 2006. First Impressions: Making Up Your Mind After a 100-Ms Exposure To A Face. Retrieved from: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/17/7/592.short.
Wygant, David. 2010. How Important Are First Impressions? Retrieved from: http://www.davidwygant.com/blog/how-important-are-first-impressions/4398/.
Britany Wallace is a senior business student at Moravian College in Bethlehem and loves blogging in her free time. She expects to travel for volunteer and learning opportunities during the summer and look for permanent work afterward. She enjoys volunteer work, mostly construction and helping at animal shelters and in her free time she reads for knowledge and pleasure. Please support Britany by “Liking” this post, leaving a comment below and visiting her at kebperspectives.wordpress.com, lifelongstudentofbusiness.wordpress.com or bwallaceperspectives.blogspot.com. (Introduction by Mark O. Oakes, a wonderful contact of KEBPerspectives. Follow him on Twitter @MarkOOakes)