This is a guest post by Luke Doyle.
Interpersonal relationships still matter! In fact, our meat-space encounters carry a ton more weight now that so many aspects of our lives are dealt with online.
From greeting guests to your Airbnb digs to being introduced to potential clients at work, to the dreaded meeting of the in-laws, face-to-face meetings can land anywhere on the spectrum between disaster and delight. Unfortunately, first impressions are so important that a disaster can take an awful lot of work to put right.
In fact, we seem to judge each other at an almost subliminal level when we first meet new people.
If you’re hoping for a positive review from your Airbnb guest, a long and fruitful relationship with your client, and an easy time with your partner’s parents, you’ll want to make sure they get the right signals from the instant they set eyes on you.
Good eye contact is a principle that will stand you well in each of those scenarios.
It can be nerve-wracking, but it’s worth the effort since staring at your shoes or over your mother-in-law’s shoulders will make you look untrustworthy or insincere. Looking from eye to eye and to the mouth can be a good way of staying focused while not appearing to stare. Eye contact also makes it easier to generate an authentic smile – which is good news, since smiling helps but a fake smile can really turn people off!
There are plenty of other body language hacks you can use to create goodwill.
A handshake should be firm but not overbearing. Never try to prove anything with that shake – they’ll see right through you.
Instead, use it for what it truly means, which is an extension of human warmth and trust. Keep your arms unfolded while you listen, so you look engaged and not defensive. And while it can be reassuring to lean in to listen more closely, be wary of invading personal space, which is usually around the length of your forearm and hand between strangers.
But thankfully it’s not all about how you look and what you do with your hands. You can create a good first impression simply by being interested in the people that you meet. By asking questions and not lingering too much on your own story. When you do talk, avoid filler words – ums and ahs – if you want to come across confidently.
This new infographic from OnStride provides more details on all the behaviors you can tweak to give an awesome first impression.
With practice, they can become second nature. Which means making easy, warm introductions to all the people in your life. Whether it’s someone you’ll pass the time with just once or a meaningful relationship that will last you the long haul.