Making a great first impression is something you should strive for when meeting new people. That’s because it could be your only opportunity to present yourself in a positive light.
Once you make a negative first impression; you may never get a chance to change people’s opinions about you. Even if you don’t really care what people think about you, it’s very important to leave a lasting first impression.
Fortunately, it doesn’t really take a lot of effort to make a good first impression — you can start by avoiding the following common mistakes.
Number 1 — Being Late
Latecomers are generally seen as unreliable people. Arriving late gives the impression that you’re not well-organized and you don’t value other people’s time.
Also, when you rush to a meeting haphazardly just so you could beat the clock, you may not be as focused as the occasion requires. For this reason, it’s important to plan adequately, to avoid being late or rushing to meet up.
Number 2 — Neglecting Your Appearance
You may think that your personal style doesn’t really matter, and shouldn’t affect the way people see you — but you’d be surprised to know that people pay a great deal of attention to your appearance.
If you come across as someone who doesn’t really care about the way they look, it can leave people with a poor impression of you. The good thing is, that it doesn’t cost much to groom yourself properly, and it’s actually best to keep it simple and stylish.
Make sure that everything on your body — from your hair to the shoes on your feet — looks neat and clean. Wearing ironed clothes that fit properly, will instantly make you look well put together.
Your appearance alone may be enough to endear some people to you — even before the beginning of the conversation.
Number 3 — Being Sleep Deprived
Looking tired and sleepy is an easy way to leave a poor first impression. That’s because being sleep-deprived can actually make you appear unhealthy — and according to research, grumpy and sickly-looking people are often seen as unattractive.
Therefore, to make a great first impression, get enough sleep to be more mentally alert and avoid looking like a zombie.
Number 4 — Giving A Bad Handshake
This may seem petty, but your handshake could influence people’s impression of you. People may feel you’re aggressive if your handshake is forceful. They may also see you as a shy, less expressive, or insecure person if your handshake is limp and very weak.
The best approach is to make your handshake firm, warm and brief. Don’t squeeze the other person’s fingers or shake their hand up and down excessively. Also, avoid holding a person’s hand for too long.
Number 5 — Having Bad Teeth
Smiling is an essential part of greeting someone, as it gives the impression that you’re happy to meet them. Since a smile is inevitable — especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time — one of the first things people notice is your teeth.
With that said, some people are easily repulsed by slight dental imperfections such as crooked or stained teeth, and without bothering to know the cause of it; they may falsely conclude that you lack proper oral hygiene.
This kind of negative first impression could spoil your chances of achieving your goals for meeting that person. Thankfully, there are many options available to fix bad teeth — and if you’re concerned about your smile, talk to your dentist, and take your oral hygiene more seriously.
Number 6 — Crossing Your Arms And Legs
Body language is one factor everyone needs to be mindful of. In case you didn’t know, the movement of your body passes subtle messages, which some people can read quite well.
Crossing your arms, for instance, passes the message that you’re defensive, edgy, and not really interested in the conversation. On the other hand, crossing your legs gives the body language that you’re shy and holding some things back.
If you want to look confident, comfortable, interested, and open to the conversation, keep your legs and arms uncrossed.
Number 7 — Giving Too Much Or Not Enough Eye-Contact
Keeping eye contact is a dicey part of meeting someone new. Sometimes, you may feel the need to focus your eyes on something else, but doing this could make you appear shy, and make it seem like you’re not comfortable with the interaction.
On the other hand, giving too much eye contact could come across as creepy and offensive, and could make the other person feel self-conscious and uncomfortable.
Experts suggest keeping eye contact 50 percent of the time you’re speaking, and 70 percent of the time the other person is speaking. This way, you’ll give the impression that you’re paying attention, without making the other person uncomfortable.
Number 8 — Invading Personal Space
People like to have their personal space. If you’re not on a mutually flirty date, you should learn to respect that distance between you and the person you’re speaking with.
When you invade people’s personal space, you’ll just make them uncomfortable, and it’ll paint the picture that you don’t respect boundaries.
It makes you seem desperate and flashes the subtle red flag that you may overstep your boundaries in the future. This is a huge turnoff for most people, so be mindful of others’ personal space.
Number 9 — Leaning Back
Leaning back in your chair is a rather negative form of body language. In fact, experts suggest ending meetings early when people start doing this. You see, when you lean back in your chair during a meeting or a conversation, you’re subtly passing the message that you’re bored and uninterested.
To show that you’re interested in a conversation — even if you aren’t — sit upright and try to lean forward.
Number 10 — Forgetting Names
It can be embarrassing to forget someone’s name — especially if they remember yours. When you forget a person’s name, it makes them feel like you don’t really value them.
To avoid making this mistake, repeat the person’s name immediately after the introduction. You can say something like “Hello Tom, nice to meet you.” This forces you to pay attention to their name — and remember it.
Number 11 — Keeping Your Hands In Your Pockets
Normally, when walking or talking to someone, you may instinctively shove your hands into your pockets, without attaching any meaning to it. This seems like no big deal, but when meeting someone for the first time; it may pass a negative impression.
Hiding your hands inside your pockets could be an indication that you’re tense, or uncomfortable with the conversation. Some people could also think that you’re being secretive.
To avoid this, keep those hands out of your pockets, and just let them hang in their natural position.
Number 12 — Touching Your Face
Contrary to what you may think, putting your hand on your chin or any other part of your face, during a conversation, doesn’t really give the impression that you’re being thoughtful.
According to body language experts, it communicates that you’re trying to shy away from the conversation. Scientifically, the nerve endings on your face relax when they’re touched.
Hence, touching your face is a self-comforting behavior. If you want to appear calm and confident, it’s best to keep your hands away from your face.
Number 13 — Making Distracting Noises
Random sounds like cracking your knuckles, tapping your feet, and so on, can be distracting and irritating. Tapping your feet shows that you’re nervous, impatient, or insincere.
It passes off the clue that you’re hiding something. Also, cracking your knuckles is an indication that you feel stressed. These are definitely not the kind of vibes you want to give when meeting someone for the first time.
As much as that first meeting — with a date, a business prospect, or potential employer — can put you through a lot of stress, you still need to make a great first impression. You need to learn to put your emotions in check and appear as relaxed as possible.
Number 14 — Playing With Your Hair
Studies have shown that women touch their hair an average of 18 times a day! This quirk may seem harmless, but it may cause you to leave a bad first impression. It may send the wrong signal, especially if you’re meeting a person for the first time.
While some people may think you’re trying to be flirty, others may think that you’re doing it to hide your low self-esteem, anxiety, or discomfort.
No matter how much you like touching your hair, try your best to avoid doing this, especially during professional meetings.
Number 15 — Frequently Checking Your Watch Or Phone
Have you ever been on a date with a person who just can’t get their hands off their phone?
It’s annoying, isn’t it?
Now, that’s exactly how annoying it feels when you’re with someone, and YOU keep checking your phone. Yeah, it’s possible that you just want to check the time, but then, it still shows that you’re not all too interested in that person, and you’d rather be elsewhere.
It’s true that everyone likes to have their phone handy, but to avoid giving this negative impression, it's best that you put your phone in your bag or pocket, and check it after your conversation.
Number 16 — Appearing Distracted
During a conversation, everyone likes to know that the other person is paying attention to them. If you’re interacting with someone, and you’re looking elsewhere or fiddling with an object, then it means that you’re not paying attention.
Yes, sometimes, due to our short attention spans, certain random thoughts may wander into our minds during a conversation. However, there’s nothing more irritating than trying to have a conversation with a distracted person.
So do your best to keep your wandering thoughts in check, and pay attention to the conversation you’re having.
Number 17 — Not Having Anything To Say
Knowing how to start up a conversation is a great social skill everyone should have. When you go to a place like a party, a networking event, or really, any social gathering — where the likelihood of meeting new people is quite likely — try to have a few conversation starters up your sleeve.
Avoid that awkwardness of sitting silently among strangers. A good way to start is by asking people simple questions about them. This works perfectly, because everyone likes to talk about themselves, and from there, you can keep the conversation going.
Number 18 — Having No Sense Of Humor
It’s obvious that you want to make a great first impression, but it also pays to let your hair down and not take everything so seriously. Throwing in good humor a few times during a conversation, can help make the atmosphere less tense, and save you both any awkwardness.
Sharing light-hearted jokes also make both parties feel more comfortable around each other. Be mindful, however, of the kind of jokes you share — especially if you’re in a professional setting.
It’s best to stick with intelligent, sarcastic, or dual-meaning jokes when you meet someone for the first time.
First impressions matter a lot, because once you miss the opportunity to make a good one; you’ll never get it back. People generally put in the effort to make a good first impression, but we’re only human, and we make mistakes sometimes — and these mistakes may leave a negative impression that may not be a true reflection of who we are.
So do your best to avoid them if you want to make a great first impression, and win people over right from the start.
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