Beyond First Glance: The Power of First Impressions and How to Master Them

Beyond First Glance: The Power of First Impressions and How to Master Them

When a slice of cake is lying in front of you, what do you see? Probably a portion layered with chocolate, white cream, may be strawberry and kiwi, perhaps some frosting….Now imagine that you are this piece of cake…what will others see in you?

The stranger can see different layers or facets of your physical self and your personality that you display to others. At any given time, knowingly or unknowingly, we all reveal part of ourselves to the strangers. These are your First impressions.

So, what are First Impressions? Impressions that strangers form of you within first 3 to 5 seconds of meeting you. Some call it “thin slices” yet others say “judging book by its cover”. Based on the facets on display, a stranger forms a quick First Impression and uses them to derive at a conclusion about your overall personality. Taking just a few visible facts into consideration if he likes what he sees, he extrapolates and assumes that you are a better person and if he is unhappy about the overall look, he will think vice versa. This is extremely important at both business and social level.

Let us take an example. A person who comes in well dressed, well groomed and is soft spoken for an interview, is automatically assumed that he is a likely candidate for the job where as a person coming in unappropriately dressed and badly groomed, is automatically put  in the slot of “not likely” for the job. In fact the interviewer will no longer have a neutral view for an assessment. Their line of questioning will only be to validate what impression she or he has already formed in her or his mind.

Very basis of First Impressions is all about maximizing positive outcomes and minimizing negative outcomes. Maximize gain and minimize pain. Each of us do this every day without realising…Of dozens of people we meet during the day, we form First Impressions and decide whether to smile, move away, connect in future or simply ignore! We decide to open ourselves and invest in the other person or limit our openness giving no chance for future relationship.

So how to create a positive First Impressions?

There are four basic elements to look into. The first two are visual.

3. Body language & Etiquette
4. Vocal Communication.

Each of these elements is extremely important and need to be balanced to give out positive impression and there by a positive self-image.

·        Think of a great looking movie star well dressed and groomed but very rude and loud…
·        A man with beautiful voice, a singer but with no etiquette…
·        A man with aggressive body language seeking a banker’s job…
·        A lady cracking offensive jokes outside the interview hall…
·        Ungroomed, unkept bearded man seeking job in a hotel…
·        Lady with long half polished finger nails sitting across at a restaurant…

In each such situation, the “person” is at a disadvantage. The question is not about wrong or right, its about losing out on first mover advantage.

     Our mind is like a camera, and it captures the image very fast.

The stranger across you has already assessed you!

Again, just getting all four elements balanced and right isn’t enough. You have to get your inner mind also to be hand in glove with your outer personality. If not, body will show conflicting signals to the stranger in front of you.

Body and mind should be in a sync. Begin by taking one step at a time. Sudden drastic changes in your dressing style will not change your personality overnight. Mind also has to adapt to the outer changes. Learn to package yourself well to be able to sustain it. This is where Image management comes into play.

Image management is a necessary skill that will help you create your individualistic personal and professional image. Always be conscious of your image, who you are and what you portray. 

Remember, Image is an “I” in the mind of others and First Impression is the first step of Image Management.
Ref: Art & Science of First Impressions- Image consulting Business Institute.