Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Do you know that others form up to 90% of their opinion about us in first four minutes? Sometimes it is even before the first word is uttered. Making a positive first impression isn’t just important for business, but for living our normal social lives. It helps us connect with fellow human beings and gain their cooperation.
“First impression is the last impression” is a cliché and for the right reasons. It sure holds true.
Contrary to popular belief, first impressions aren’t much about what you say, but how you look. When I say ‘how you look’, it isn’t about beauty, but about non-verbal cues. The secret of first impression is always in the BODY LANGUAGE. Our gestures, expressions and how we carry ourselves say more about us than words ever can. Today, experts around the world are teaching Body Language to executives, politicians and high-ranking officials because it can make a huge difference in our interactions with people around us.
To understand the first impression we make today, let me take you millions of years ago when human beings first appeared on the planet. Whatever we are today is because of millions of years of evolution and most of our body language isn’t conscious but comes down from our subconscious and unconscious mind.
Before the advent of language, human beings communicated through sign, signals and gestures. Some of which are so ingrained in our minds that we can’t even unlearn most of them consciously.
Below are 5 ideas that help human beings make a positive first impression on each other:
1. Great Posture: How do you make someone look confident? It’s simple: Shoulders up, back straight, heads up and a direct gaze. During the time of early man, someone’s posture showed how healthy, strong and youthful they were. In an era when physical strength was too vital for survival, we humans started to associate this posture with strength and confidence. Today, most of us don’t even possess half the physical strength of our ancestors, yet our minds remain unchanged. A great posture is what you still need to make a positive first impression.
2. The right handshake: Well, if you are reading this during the COVID 19 pandemic, pardon me. Handshakes evolved as a gesture when two people met during the early times. When the world wasn’t as civilized, the threat of weapons kept our ancestors on alert. Handshakes showed that none of the men shaking hands were carrying any weapons, and are not a threat to each other. Today, when two humans meet, handshakes can tell how they both perceive the new acquaintance. There are 7 types of handshakes, but you don’t need to know all of them. Just remember three things while shaking hands:
Keep your hands dry and warm. A wet hand can instantly turn off the other person and a cold hand will give an impression of how cold human being you are. Just before you meet someone, rubbing your hands against each other would do the trick and others shaking your hand would perceive you as warm person.
Shake hands equally with the other person, that means neither palm up nor palm down. An equal handshake means that we are both perceive this acquaintance as equal and neither of us are trying to dominate each other.
Give equal amount of pressure to the other person as they are giving to your hand.
3. Nodding: How do you feel when someone nods while you speak? Let me guess! You instantly feel good because someone is listening to you intently and attentively. Studies conducted all over the world, suggest that nodding is a gesture most people do to say, “I agree”. Japanese would be one exception. When Japanese nod, they mean, “Yes, I hear you, but I might or might not agree.” Next time when someone is speaking to you, tilt your head a little and give them a nod three strokes at a time suggesting, "Yes, I hear you!". Watch the magic happen! In most cases, it will lead to an instant connection with the other person.
4. Palms Open: In a valley surrounded by deep forests somewhere in Europe, two strangers met 10,000 years ago and when they talked, they both showed their palms wide open to signal that they are not carrying weapons. During the entire human evolution, open palms has been a symbol of trust. Even today when someone talks to us with open palms, we start to trust them subconsciously. They somehow give the right vibes and we don’t feel threatened or intimidated by their presence. Talking with open visible palms is a great approach whenever you want to build trust in a new encounter.
5. Smile: One of the inborn gestures that we are born with is a smile. Our brain is wired to smile at what we like. Infants start smiling ever since they are 2 months old. When you smile at someone, you not only look more attractive, but the other person feels liked by you. Guess what? They start liking you back! In certain situations, smiling can also have negative effects since smiling is sometimes seen as a submission signal.* However, In general social interactions, smiling is a powerful tool that anyone can use to influence other people. When you look at them, wait for a second and then give them a wide, broad smile showing your teeth.
In a fast-paced, highly competitive world like ours, where people have a lot of options to choose from - whether it be in business association, social circle or dating, making a positive first impression is more important than ever. Our Body Language is a reflection of our emotional lives and women can perceive it much better than any men. The good news is that it can be learnt. Are you ready for it?