Six ways to make a good first impression

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Throughout my early life, almost an even number of people took an immediate or early liking to me, as an immediate disliking. It has taken me a while to figure out where I went wrong in the latter cases. I do believe my bipolar behavior has certainly played a part in both cases, but I’m luckily more stable than I used to be, and more aware of my past blunders. I’m so happy that I have more control of my moods. Symptoms like irritability, grandiosity, and inattention (self-focus) played havoc on some relationships. Periods of social anxiety and shyness were also obstacles I had to get past. The latter issues I worked through over time with the help of my wonderful therapist. Running through practice interactions ahead of time were most helpful for me.

Here are six suggestions for making a good first impression:

  1. Eye contact, but not excessive – People want to feel you are focusing on them and not paying attention elsewhere, and yet prolonged eye contact can feel awkward or even intimidating. The right balance makes the difference in whether you make a new friendly connection, or not. Walking by someone you’ve seen a lot, but never met, with no eye contact says “I don’t want to meet you.”
  2. The right kind of smile or other facial or body language – Facial expressions and body language that are friendly or supportive (and properly match the situation) make others feel at ease. Excess gestures again can be awkward. Avoid a depressed or angry look, if at all possible, unless you are in the company of someone with whom you are very close, who understands. Acquaintances and strangers are not comfortable with negativity, as much as we’d like not to have to fake feelings. When I’m feeling unwell and irritable, I make an effort to keep to myself for a while. Or if I must admit feeling unwell, I briefly mention it and move on to business or something more positive.
  3. Remembering the person’s name and maybe something about them (perhaps positive and comfortable) – When you first meet a person make a huge effort to remember their name. Repeat it in your head a few times or use mnemonics to help solidly keep it in your memory. In cases of recent acquaintances, bringing up a small tidbit of a previous conversation is also attractive, but try to make it a positive tidbit.
  4. Interest in the other person and ability to find common conversation ground – People love it when you ask them questions and show interest in them, but they should also ideally reciprocate. Try to create a balance. Finding common conversation ground sparks conversations that each can easily contribute to. No one wants to be treated like a student unless they ask to be or really are a student.
  5. A reasonable amount of humility – “Know it alls” clearly turn people off by their implied superiority. It’s OK to talk about something you’re knowledgeable about or felt good about on occasion, but do combine that with questions to the other person so they can share expertise in some area, or just self-promote in moderation.
  6. Immediate expression of respect or happiness in seeing a person, if possible – Whether you just run into someone you haven’t seen for a while or are greeting them for the first time in the morning at work, a smile and reasonably enthusiastic “Good morning, Joe” or “Nice to see you again, Florence” makes a huge difference in the continuing interaction. It’s amazing how important those first seconds are.

What other actions do you find help bring about a good first impression? What else doesn’t? Please take a look in the comments to see the ideas of other bloggers.

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19 thoughts on “Six ways to make a good first impression

  1. Vivian Zems June 5, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    Give them a reasonable amount of your time. Time is a precious commodity- it’ll be appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 5, 2017 / 4:54 pm

      Hi Vivian. Thanks so much for adding that. Yes, time is something we don’t always give to people, especially now as we zip around a lot, and work so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nel June 5, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    I think you summed it up pretty well! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jessica Bakkers June 6, 2017 / 12:03 am

    I SUCK when it comes to eye contact. After a few seconds I get conscious of making eye contact then start to worry if I’m making too much, or if I look away, do they think I’m being shifty? Can they tell I’m looking at their left eye? Better look somewhere else… no! Not at that zit! The mouth. Wait, didn’t I read somewhere that is an erogenous zone and you shouldn’t look there?

    By now they think i’m a psycho.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bipolarsojourner June 6, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    i’m only screwed on two accords:

    1. eye contact. my introvertive nature makes that hard. I must rather stare at their shoulder, stare off into space or better yet, look at my toes.

    2. remember names. i’m name impaired. i been to nearly 20 meetings with someone. still had to ask them their name to properly introduce them to my wife. i could remember the new person’s name but it might get awkward using their name in the first twenty sentences where i make reference to them. even with that, there’s a good chance that wouldn’t work, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 6, 2017 / 7:38 pm

      Hi bipolarsojourner. I go to a Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance support group, and luckily we all wear name tags. Although I think name recollection is an issue for many people, I think it is particularly tough for some people with mental illnesses.

      Constant eye contact would be intimidating to some people. I think that if you can off and on make it (make eye contact, quickly look down, make eye contact, look to the side, repeat) it is probably the best, don’t you think?

      Liked by 1 person

      • bipolarsojourner June 6, 2017 / 8:01 pm

        Yep, we wear name tags at the nami connections meeting we share. i read their name tag every time, hear their name every time, and name still doesn’t exist. it just points to the level of impairment.

        sure, i can and do make eye contact. it’s the feeling i have that it’s not sufficient, that i am somehow trying to hide something with the infrequent eye contact. one i fear the other people in the conversation pick up on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 6, 2017 / 8:09 pm

        Do you feel that it is hard for you to make new connections with people, or that you require a long while to connect? I have a mixed bag, depending on my mood.

        I can make quick great first impressions with people, but I have a difficult time forming deep relationships. I’ve grown very protective of myself over the years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • bipolarsojourner June 6, 2017 / 8:39 pm

        new connections are difficult because of my introvertive tendencies. sometimes those wane or i can beat them back and that makes connections possible.

        i would say that this time in my life i have the most friends and connections even had. a little story around that point.

        last two years i’ve taken pictures for our nami walk. last year, before the walk, there was a continual stream of clicks. this year went like this; decide to take pictures. head out. run into a friend. talk to them for 3 minutes or so. remind myself i’m taking place pictures. head out. run into another friend. repeat.

        that felt strange but rewarding.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 6, 2017 / 8:47 pm

        It does feel great to have plenty of friends. I lost so many over the years, it was so sad. I have a lot of acquaintances now, but wish I had more friends.

        For a few years I went to AA. I’m not an alcoholic, but I thought I was for a spell. I had many friends then, but when I left I lost them all. Now I have online friends, but it’s not the same. My goal for the future is to make more friends.

        That’s wonderful what you did in support of NAMI. I led a team for a NAMI Walk a couple of times. At that time I had some friends from DBSA. Then I went through a spell when I had a touch of agoraphobia. Then when I visited again they were gone.

        Like

      • bipolarsojourner June 6, 2017 / 9:57 pm

        i went to a dbsa group once. it lacked structure. it lead people going out of bounds which lead me to feeling unsafe too many times.

        i now go to an unaffiliated meeting which has even less structured than dbsa meeting but people who believe in respecting each other unlike the dbsa meeting i attended.

        i also attend a nami connections meeting for people with a diagnosis. Finally, i attend a nami spiritual group. that’s a mixed group with supporters and diagnosed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 7, 2017 / 12:04 am

        That’s so nice that your local NAMI had a spiritual group. Mine doesn’t, though they have NAMI Connections. I’ve participated in a number of NAMI workshops and events, but usually not their support groups. I’ve mostly gone to DBSA.

        I guess it really depends on the facilitators how structured the DBSA group is. Our DBSA group is pretty good. I used to go every week for almost four years, but then stopped. I am a group leader for an online support group now.

        Like

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