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How Are Your First Impressions Working For You?
So you’re about to go into an interview or meet a prospect for the first time. Or perhaps to present to a meeting, audience or enter into a negotiation.
How do you feel? Nervous? Scared? Curious? Confident? How well equipped do you think you are to “hit it off” straight off? You know, to have them more favourably onside to you, your idea or topic from the outset? You’ve seen it happen, right? How do they do that?
Now just have a think about your last 5 such important interactions. How do you think you went? What would enhancing this ability and confidence to immediately connect, be worth to you?
First Impressions, EQ, Soft Skills and Outcomes
My clients learn that good preparation makes up the lion share of most successful outcomes.They understand how few people actually do this and yet how quickly it can make such a difference.
My soft skills grooming leverages many tried and tested NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) based techniques and practices, mainly to help my clients build and strengthen rapport with those they communicate with and are trying to influence, and to start “winning them over” quickly, elegantly and confidently. First impressions play such a critical role in that.
Unsure? How About Some Research?
In his book “Blink”, author Malcolm Gladwell uses the feature called “thin-slicing” where by filming human interactions to capture behaviours, and reducing them down to the most relevant and “thinnest of slices” (often minutes or just seconds), he proves how quickly (and accurately) we come to our (first impressions) conclusion using very limited information. This is where the notorious “jumping to conclusions” comes from.
I’m reading Andrew O’Keeffe’s book “Hardwired Humans” and was fascinated to learn how we use merely seconds to “classify” our initial response to someone or something. That is whether it is good or bad or whether we like or dislike it etc.
It is well known that our mind can generally process around 7 (plus or minus 2) topics at once before we get confused. O’Keeffe’s research takes that a little further and outlines that in a meeting or presentation or conversation about your idea:
- how you present yourself and connect with your audience in the first few seconds,
- plus the first 7 words you use can be all it takes whether their initial (unconscious) classification of your agenda will be positive or negative; accepting or rejecting.
- And that once they have come to that initial conclusion, that it is very hard to change their mind.
In my blog “Are You Really Connecting?” I refer to renowned author and “body language expert”, Alan Pease suggesting that in the first few minutes of meeting someone in a business context for the first time, both parties are “sizing the other up” and unconsciously establishing whether they “like” the other person, whether they think they can trust them and whether they think they would buy or do business with them. And that both will have concluded that unconsciously without most of us not even noticing that.
All this research beautifully underpins what I have been advocating and teaching for as long as I have been coaching and mentoring, and what my clients have so successfully implemented for their sustainably compelling outcomes.
However, O’Keeffe’s emphasis of the degree of strength and shortness of time most of us take to “classify” our responses to something, has just added another dimension to the weight of this experience. You will ignore this at your communication success peril.
First Impressions – So What?
So what does first impressions mean for “Selling Yourself“? Think about how you started your last interview(s), meetings or presentations. How many went the way you needed or wanted them to go from the outset?
What I’d dearly want you to take away is the understanding that with a few sharp techniques and practice, your first impressions can help you win people or situations that matter over so much more than you ever thought.
You, like me, can see how this can add a success dimension of breakthrough proportions to your expected outcomes, can’t you?
So what do you need to do to make this work for you? First of all to make a decision and set a goal to “have a go”. Then to find and engage the right coach that will guide you and hold you accountable to embedding this as a new skill.
What if together, we could really make this work for you? What if you could?