How to create a strong first impression: All of us have had someone in our past remind us about the importance of making a good first impression. Maybe it was a parent as we headed out to our first job interview during high-school days. You may have had a good friend suggest that you create a strong first impression as you planned your first date. Certainly, those of us in the field of business have been guided on the finer points of making a good impression as we prepare for a major presentation. Why do first impressions matter so much? According to author Dorie Clark; first impressions matter so much because they happen so fast.
“A strong first impression, gives you more latitude to be human…because they happen fast, and they are stubborn…we make judgments about other people in a nanosecond.” – Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future
According to Dorie Clark, relationships and business interactions moving forward are a lot easier if we start off strong. She says, “we get the benefit of the doubt…if we make a mistake, arrive late, another person is likely to assume the best. A strong first impression gives you more latitude to be human.” To be sure, being human is something your client or business associates will appreciate. Hey, he/she is just like me…. they have kids to get off to school too. Now, of course, we’re addressing second chances. So back to first impressions. So how do we create a strong first impression with others? What really matter the most as we focus on practicing that all-important evaluation from others? Needless to say, it’s more than a firm handshake!
The science of studying human behavior and people’s reactions to our behaviors appears to be a never-ending quest for the holy grail of a person’s character. Psychologists have known since the 1920’s for instance that humans tend to generalize from single incident perception. First impressions if you will. Scientists have labeled these perceptions as “halo-effect” impressions. So what really matters? How can one assure those first impressions are positive and help long-term relationships? According to social psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy, there are two spheres from which others will attribute their impression of us. Warmth and competence.
According to Dr. Cuddy, these two spheres or critical variables, one – warmth, and two – competence, account for 80% of our personal evaluations (impressions) of others.
These studies indicate that our emotions and behaviors toward others are shaped in part by the 80% rule — the two spheres or critical variables made up of others’ perceptions of warmth displayed and competence of the individual. Cuddy says in her studies that warmth (genuine, nice, kind, respectful) is perceived first and accounts for more of someone’s overall evaluation than competence. In our line of work, we continually stress the importance of being transparent with our clients. We feel that if our agents present themselves in a professional manner and execute each and every appointment with the utmost integrity—never taking shortcuts—and always presenting all the options for a client regardless of compensation to the agent; that we will convey an authentic caring and concerned – warm professional.
We can control the warmth sphere by adhering to key interpersonal communication principles such as Greeting. Attention. Empathy. Understanding. Kindness. Caring. Respect. Honor. Dignity. Sincerity.
The second sphere of influence on others perceptions or impressions of us are centered on competence. How do we best prepare for the perception of competence? Perhaps that is best addressed in another article. But suffice it to say that with proper training – adhering to the best practices of sales presentations – coupled with a keen dose of interpersonal communication skills – an agent who is committed to product knowledge should not fail this test.
“It is so important for us to take the unwavering approach—that we will do what is best for the clients best interest––regardless of personal gain.”
– Jeff Pitta, CEO & Founder, Senior Market Advisors