When meeting someone new, we have a chance to set the tone for how we will be perceived. Sometimes, in an effort to put our best foot forward we can inadvertently leave a bad impression. Whether you’re meeting with a new romantic prospect for the first time, interviewing with a potential employer, or introducing yourself to a new colleague or associate, here are 5 solid tips to avoid making a bad impression.
1. Don’t Show Desperation.
Often when we meet new people, there’s a strong impulse to try and appear as impressive as possible. However, talking too much about ourselves and our accomplishments can come across as narcissistic, self-absorbed and desperate for approval. This can reflect badly in the eyes of the other person. It is important to keep in mind how you are making the other person feel. Make an effort to show more curiosity about them and avoid relating everything they say back to you. Ask follow-up questions rather than use every opportunity to promote yourself.
2. But don’t interrogate your subject.
There is a balance to good conversation and asking too many questions about the other person without divulging much about yourself can also come across negatively. If you’re talking to a narcissist, this may go unnoticed. For most people however, there’ll be a reciprocal interest in knowing more about you and so you should by all means share things about yourself that can add to the conversation. Encourage the other person to talk about themselves but be ready to reciprocate when they pass the ball back to you.
3. Don’t let a bad mood ruin everything.
Don’t let a transient sour mood become the first impression that others have of you. It’s important to be yourself and be genuine, but recognize that everything you do can set the tone and timbre of how others will perceive you now and in the foreseeable future. Put your best foot forward and suppress whatever negative feelings you might be experiencing at the moment. Otherwise, be transparent about what you are going through so people can at least understand where you are coming from.
4. Avoid Negative Body language.
Non-verbal communication can speak volumes and in many cases overshadow what is communicated with our mouth. Pay attention to what you are communicating with your posture, eye contact and gestures. Avoid closed body language like folded arms and hands. Slouching and a lack of sustained eye contact doesn’t come across well and generally conveys low confidence and untrustworthiness. Anxiety can also sabotage your self presentation so try not to talk too fast or fidget nervously. Matching the other person’s talking speed and tone as well as mirroring some of their gestures is a psychological trick that can instantly create positive rapport with people.
5. Be an Active Listener.
Being a good listener is important. It is not enough to just passively sit and wait for your turn to speak. You should show that you are actively listening to what is being said with visual cues such as nodding and smiling. Even if you are not particularly interested in what the other person is talking about, giving them your undivided attention is a basic sign of respect. Looking around the room or down at your phone while someone is talking will convey to them that you aren’t really engaged with what they are saying. Any sign of distraction or lack of responsiveness will definitely leave a poor impression.
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