HOW IMPORTANT ARE FIRST IMPRESSIONS?
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
This is true in many ways. In the literal sense, it means there is no other first. But in a figurative sense, it brings up the point that a first impression goes a long way.
A first impression influences how people think about you for the remainder of your relationship. Or it can make them decide that they’d rather not be in a relationship with you in the first place!
First impressions aren’t always set in stone. You can do things to change them, and they may not have the impact you think they will. But it’s always advisable to put your best foot forward.
This article will answer questions like, how important first impressions are, how do you change first impression, and what do you do if you made a bad first impression.
What are First Impressions?
Quite simply, first impressions are the instant takeaways a person gets when meeting you for the first time. They can be based on things such as your temperament, your appearance, the things you say, and more. In fact, different people may base their first impressions on different characteristics.
In a business setting, there are many elements that will make up your first impression. Generally, this is in accordance with my ABCDE model as follows:
- Appearance: No matter how much we stress the importance of inner beauty, outer appearances are still important. As a businessperson, you always want to have a put-together look. Your office should also be neat and organized.
- Behavior: If you are meeting with clients or customers, you should maintain an upbeat, pleasant attitude.
- Communication: People will focus on your opinions and how you present them. Keep in mind that proper grammar can also go a long way.
- Digital Footprint: In today’s technology-oriented world, many people will see your social media profile before meeting you or stepping foot in your location. Therefore, a nice-looking account will go a long way.
- Environment: This refers to the environment that surrounds you when you meet. A person’s first impression opinion may be altered if your workspace is clean or messy, if you meet in a causal vs. upscale environment, and other factors.
How Do I Know What My First Impression Is?
As mentioned earlier, different people may have different first impressions of you. For example, some may be more focused on your appearance, while others will be more interested in what you have to say. Their takeaway will also vary depending on whether they are looking at your website and whether they are meeting you in a casual or professional setting.
If you care about making a good first impression, you should consider all possible aspects and determine how to improve them. If you feel like you can’t form an unbiased opinion of how you come across, you may ask a friend or colleague to deliver the honest truth.
However, for a truly accurate opinion, it’s best to talk to an expert. I provide a free perception audit that will provide you with first insight into how you might be perceived based on your first impression.
How Long Does It Take to Make a First Impression?
Some studies say making a first impression takes a tenth of a second, others say it takes closer to seven seconds. The amount of time it takes doesn’t really matter. The fact is, it happens quickly. And once the impression is made, it’s hard to change it.
Are First Impressions Always Accurate?
No, first impressions are not always accurate. They can be skewed by many things. For example, if either person is having a bad day or is caught off guard, they may not be able to put their best foot forward. Unfortunately, this can cause a person to form a snap judgment that may frame the way they think of you moving forward.
Other causes of inaccurate first impressions include unconscious biases. While stereotypes are discouraged, they still exist. They could cause a person to have an unconscious bias against someone else that could negatively affect how they perceive them.
Selective perception could also come into play. This involves people changing their perceptions based on factors in the environment. For example, a teacher could favor a student because they are popular in the school and overlook their poor grades.
Can I Change My First Impression?
Yes, you can absolutely change your first impression. Here are some ways to do it.
Improve Your Social Media: Make your social media pages as attractive as possible by including a professional-looking profile picture and creating fun, valuable content. All elements should be well designed for an upscale look that expresses your brand perfectly.
Update the Look of Your Office: Your office says a lot about your business. It’s important that it looks modern and reflects your brand identity. If your office doesn’t look its best, you may consider updating the paint or furnishings or cleaning up a little. If you are limited by finances, you may want to use another location when meeting clients.
Work on Your Professional Appearance: Many of us love to be comfortable. Fortunately, the pandemic has made comfy, casual clothes fashionable. However, you may want to draw the line between coming to work in your pajamas or wearing a stained shirt. While I’m sure there are many that would applaud your efforts, others may not think so highly of them.
Know What You are Going to Say: It’s always best to be prepared before client meetings. If possible, get some key points together, so you have an idea of what you are going to say. This will ensure that you impress your clients and avoid sticking your foot in your mouth.
What’s More Important, First or Lasting Impressions?
First impressions can open doors (or shut them), while lasting impressions will play a role in whether you are invited back. Both can be important for different reasons. However, your first impression will be a big part of your lasting impression. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you come off well in both respects.
What If I Make a Bad First Impression?
Bad first impressions can happen despite our best intentions. There are a few things you can do to make up for a bad first impression. These include:
Apologizing: Apologizing is a good first step. Simply own up to your mistakes, give a brief explanation as to what caused the bad impression (to let them know it was an unusual circumstance), and see if they will give you another chance.
Of course, apologizing won’t always work. But don’t beat yourself up for your error. See your failure as an opportunity to learn. Take steps to improve your first impression, so you always look your best during first-time client meetings.
First impressions are very important. They can make all the difference in whether a customer or client converts or goes with another business. They resonate throughout a relationship and play a big part in its success.
If you feel your first impression isn’t all it should be, there are steps you can take to improve it. Technology updates, workspace improvements, and personal makeovers can all be helpful.
What improvements will you be making to ensure your first impression stands out?
How Important are First Impressions in a Nutshell?
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