"If you want to make a good first impression, smile at people. What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not to smile? Everything, if not smiling prevents you from enchanting people." ~ Guy Kawasaki
We have all been told repeatedly about how important first impressions are. We generally have been lead to believe that it takes about 30 seconds to make an impression on someone we meet, but some research indicates that it may be much shorter. A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don't significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments). Their research is presented in an article titled "First Impressions," in the July issue of Psychological Science.
What we do know is that first impressions are extremely important and that it is difficult to overcome a negative first impression. There are good reasons that highly emotionally intelligent people have an advantage when it comes to making a positive first impression.
Prepare Themselves Beforehand
Those with high emotional intelligence hold a genuine interest in others and imagine what they would think and feel when they first meet. They consider this information from every aspect; from how to dress, the location of the meeting and other factors considering how to make the other person feel most comfortable and use the first impression to their benefit.
Being aware of themselves helps emotionally intelligent people stand back, look at themselves and focus on how they will be perceived by others. This helps them approach someone with a smile, a warm welcoming look and ensure they offer a firm handshake or appropriate hug.
Pay Attention to Body Language
People with good EI are aware of body language, theirs and others and use this knowledge to indicate (with their bodies) they are open to and inviting to what the other has to say. They know that this is even more important than the words they use; as subconsciously the other person will make judgements about them based on the message and energy their bodies send.
Recognize the Importance of Names
One of the sweetest sounds to our ears is that of our own names, properly pronounced. When meeting someone, the first indicator we are important to them is how they treat our name. If not sure how to pronounce it, they take the time and effort to listen to us say it and feed it back to us until they get it right. It is also a great way to make small talk such as asking about origins and meanings around someone's name makes them feel respected and acknowledged.
Manage Any Distractions
Nothing turns off someone you first meet than a ringing cell phone, the other person paying attention to something or someone else nearby and not giving us their full attention. Emotionally intelligent people are aware, set up and ensure there are no distractions to get in the way of giving you their full and undivided attention.
One of our most basic needs is the need to be heard. Most people are too busy thinking of their reply during a conversation that they don't really listen. People with EI skills understand and make a conscious choice to try to understand where the other person is coming from and to do that, we have to fully listen, not only to the words, but the tone of voice and body language.
Encourage Openness and Understanding
Their interest in others and lifelong learning makes emotionally intelligent people go the extra to draw others out during conversations. They are able to ask good questions which encourage those they are talking with, to open up and share more with them. Their warm and non-threatening demeanor makes it easier for others to trust them and feel comfortable in their presence.