Whether you’re interviewing for a new job, have just moved to an unfamiliar town or are meeting your significant other’s friends or family for the first time, you want to make a good impression.
Open Change specializes in dealing with open communication in the workplace but dealing with new people is essentially the same no matter what setting you are in. We all know that first impressions can be deceiving, so what can you do to make sure your authentic self-comes through? Here are some tips for how to impress people you’ve only just met.
1. Envision how the meeting will go.
If you’re going into the first-round interview for your dream job, visualize yourself looking polished and speaking with calm confidence. Imagine arriving on time, giving a firm handshake, being asked questions by your potential supervisor and answering them to the best of your knowledge. If you’re going on a blind date, picture yourself giving off positive energy and engaging with the other person over a long and engaging conversation. If you’re joining a new group of friends, think about how you’ll remember everyone’s names and one or two things you’d like to learn about each of them. Seeing the event play out in your mind’s eye ahead of time will give you an extra boost of assurance.
2. If you’re extroverted, read the room and only be as outgoing as other people.
For those who are naturally confident, be yourself but keep your chatter in check. You don’t want to put off a room of shy, quiet people by being too loud or talking more than everyone else. Speak your mind but give others the chance to contribute to the conversation. If that means a little bit of awkward silence, so be it. That silence won’t be a reflection on you.
3. If you’re shy, be just a little more outgoing than usual.
People who tend to keep to themselves may have a hard time coming out of their shells in new situations. But a room full of strangers is actually a great opportunity to exercise your social skills. The key is to plan ahead. Try to get to know as much as you can about who you’re meeting before you face to face. This is especially relevant for a job interview. You should know the professional histories of your interviewers and be able to ask them relevant industry questions. For more informal occasions, it’s still good to get to know a little about who you’ll be meeting, but let the conversation flow more naturally.
4. Consider your appearance.
Depending upon the event, you may need to dress a certain way to look appropriate. Find out what’s expected ahead of time, and always wear a suit to a corporate office job interview. Keep your personal style in mind and let it show through a few accessories and some jewelry. And, it goes without saying, hygiene is important and makes a strong first impression. That said, keep makeup and fragrance to a minimum. You want your true self to shine through.
5. Watch your body language.
Try not to cross your arms, slouch or make yourself physically smaller in any obvious way. To give off an open and inviting vibe, lean in slightly towards whomever you’re speaking with and make good eye contact. Maintain your posture and don’t fidget or do anything too distracting with your body. You want the focus to be on the conversation and not your unconscious body language.
6. Be honest.
Most people can quickly detect when a person is being phony, so don’t act overly eager or fake an interest in something that you really don’t care about. It’s better to come across as genuine rather than to make people question an unusually sunny disposition. Also, don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable or admit to flaws. It’s good to come across as human, especially when you may be feeling a bit nervous. But certainly don’t focus too much on the negative or it will bring down the mood of the room.
7. If you’re uncomfortable, try to make everyone else in the room feel comfortable.
This is one of the less intuitive approaches but it actually makes perfect sense. If you’re suddenly feeling uncomfortable in the situation, turn the focus outward and try your best to make everyone else feel relaxed and easygoing. Ask questions, listen to the answers and then ask any follow-up questions to keep the conversation going.
8. When in doubt, smile.
In many social situations, a simple smile can go a long way towards defusing any tension and making you and whomever you’re with instantly feel at ease. Smile during greetings, farewells and whenever it feels natural to do so. The warmth this gesture generates will radiate throughout you and draw people in your direction.