Monday, October 13, 2008

How To Make A Good First Impression

Photo by Frame Muller

Can you feel it in the air? That social time of year is upon us - the time when folks smooth out their skirts for job interviews and put on their best pair of heels for holiday parties. This is the time when people meet - when they gather, chat, befriend, and maybe even fall in love - and sure, it's a spectacular season, but one of its hardest parts can be making a fabulous first impression on the people you meet during it. There's always that perpetual fear of fumbling with words or committing a social faux pas, of coming off as someone completely different than who you really are, but the good news is that all of this is easily avoidable! Here are a few simple tips for making a dazzling entrance into the lives of others.

* Dress fabulously

Sure, it may seem like a given, but dressing appropriately can sometimes be the hardest part of making a spectacular impression. If you know who you're meeting ahead of time, consider their position and the situation in which you'll be meeting. For example, should you wear bondage heels and a mashmallow-fluffed tutu when going in for a job interview at an accounting firm? I'm reluctant to say so since I do love my tutus, but no! Try a pencil skirt and classic black pumps instead - it's still an insanely fabulous outfit but it's context-appropriate.

* Be on time
If you're heading to a job interview or other pre-planned social endeavor, it is absolutely imperative to be on time! Although it does sound a little passé, punctuality is one of those givens that people automatically expect of you and it never goes out of style. Being "fashionably late" may work for informal parties or gatherings with friends, but if you've set a time and place with someone try your best to follow through. If you arrive more than five minutes late you've already dropped the ball and it may be impossible to recover - avoid this situation at all costs! Leave early if you have to, run through the streets in high heels, just get there on time! 

* Mind your manners
Know your limits within the situation - ask yourself, who are you talking to? What's the setting? What would be socially acceptable and what wouldn't? If you're not sure whether you should say something or not, don't. This doesn't mean be plain by any stretch of the word - it simply means avoid being unnecessarily rude. Try to keep conversations light-hearted and fun when first meeting someone, don't delve too deep into their childhood scars or failed romances - when you get to know them better you'll have the chance for that!

* Don't be afraid to look people in the eye
Good eye contact, although sometimes uncomfortable, is a sign of confidence and can usually gain you some unconscious respect when meeting new people. Having the ability to look someone straight in the eye and speak candidly is a lost art in our modern world of text messages and e-mails - if you're able to pull it off, you'll find yourself much more confident and you'll make the person you're speaking to feel more comfortable and able to open up to you as well. I know this can be pretty tricky if you're normally a shy person and feel uncomfortable keeping eye contact for long periods of time, but practice incorporating it into your every day life. Look at your waiter when ordering, not at the menu. When picking up your morning soy chai latte, be sure to look the barista straight in the eye and say thank you. Crazy as it sounds, practice makes perfect!

* Relax
Make jokes, be yourself, take a few deep breaths and relax. No one wants to see you uptight and wound into someone you're not! It's incredibly important to be yourself when around new people, even if you don't really "click" with them, and most people usually find themselves acting out of character because they're stressed or uncomfortable in the situation. Just relax - do some light exercise before leaving the house to loosen up. Everything will work out!

* Employ the Art Of Conversation
The worst part of conversation is running into that rut about two minutes in when the formalities end and you're left not exactly sure what to say. It's a horrifying pause, yet one that can easily be avoided with a little bit of curiosity and a willingness to go with the flow. Ask questions, get to know the other person - ask them what their favorite band was in high school or if they've ever participated in sumo wrestling. If conversation drifts towards that rut, quickly steer the topic towards something else, no matter how unrelated it may seem. As strange as it sounds, most people usually find that kind of eccentricity of hop-scotching between subjects pretty endearing and if nothing else, talk about that! Remember: you've just met this person and there are a million things in the world that you don't know about them. Probe them a little - everyone has a story to tell!

So tell me, bunnies, what's the best (or worst) impression that you've ever made on someone? (Or even better, that someone's ever made on you?)

Penelope ♥

1 comment:

Helen said...

I remember when I was about 15, full of teenage angst, I went for a job interview at a shoe shop and basically told the interviewee that I didn't like people. That wasn't a good first impression. Needless to say I didn't get the job, but I do like people now!