How to Make a Good First Impression

friendsWe met our freshman year in college.

She was a snob. Not interested in others and really not a whole lot of fun. Or so I thought.

She thought I was a nerd – too boring to bother with.

We were both wrong. And not only is she hilarious and giving, but she’s been one of my besties for nearly 30 years.

After months of living in the close quarters of a college dormitory  — in other words we couldn’t avoid each other — we overcame our first impressions to build a rock-solid friendship.

First Impressions Are Hard to Change

Research shows that even when our first impressions are wrong, it can be tough to change the opinons of others.

On Monday, I wrote about how to be more open-minded and how to avoid passing quick judgment, but chances are folks will still be judging you, so, it’s worth thinking about how you show up in the world and how to make a good first impression.

Four Ways to Make a Good First Impression

  1. Be authentic and sincere. Not everyone is going to like you, but most will respect you if you are real and true to yourself. Don’t say you like something if you don’t. Don’t go for false flattery. Don’t be a rude schmuck either, if you don’t like something you don’t have to say anything at all. But be sincere in what you do present. We can all spot a faker and most of us don’t like that. When someone is real, they exude confidence and that’s a good thing.
  2. Be open. Don’t judge others in the room, be open to however they show up. Get curious. Engage with them. Ask about them and their goals. Smile. If we are caught up in ourselves we are not reaching out and connecting with others. This can shut down a meaningful connection before it has a chance to start and make us less approachable.
  3. Be agreeable. Don’t pick a fight your first time out. Don’t create conflict. Show interest. Be compassionate and empathetic. Look for the best in others and others will see the best in you.
  4. Be polite. Introduce yourself, and others, if you are in a group. Remember names. Offer proper goodbyes, rather than just wandering away with promises of “we should ge together.”Proper greetings and basic courtesies go a long way toward making others feeling included and comfortable around you.

You don’t have to be buddies with everyone you meet and there will be plenty of people you don’t want to hang out with or even see again. But, it’s unlikely you’ll know that within the first few minutes of your first meeting. So stay open and the remember the best way for you to make a good first impression with others, is to be kind, polite, and authentic. The more comfortable they feel when they are with you, the better impression they will have about you.

You’ve Got This

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There was the “but-all-the-other-kids-wear-flip-flops-to-school” tantrum a minute before the bus arrived. Then the cat threw up, I got edits back just before 5 p.m. that needed to be done TODAY and then I discovered my husband had remembered only half of the things I needed from the store. The forgotten groceries coincided nicely with ALL of the ingredients I needed for the dinner I was planning to cook. Scratch that.

By the end of the day, I decided I’d do better with a margarita on the back deck. Except for one little thing. We had no tequila.

One of those days.

Life can smack us around pretty good some days. Little things can feel like a big struggle. Then, when you you throw the big life stuff in like love and loss and aches and pains and bill-paying while check-waiting and life can feel pretty hard.

 You Can Do It

Life, if you are actually participating in it, is big and busy and vibrant and chaotic and uncertain. And fun. It can be so fun. But it will throw things at us we aren’t ready for.  “NO! You cannot have shorts that show your butt cheeks.” “YES when I put milk on the list it really does mean we need milk.” “No I will not give you the account number to claim my Nigerian lotto winnings.”

Then there are the biggies that life lobs our way. The death of a partner. Bankruptcy. Divorce. Cancer. And you will think you cannot SURVIVE.

Then you will.

All you need to know is this: You can do it. Whatever IT is, you can handle it. The bigs and littles of life are not going to wash you away. They might batter you a bit – but tough moments DO NOT have to equal bad days or bad years or a bad life. They don’t have to run away with you. And if they do – and sometimes they do for a bit – you can always find your way back. You can center yourself again.

I know this from experience because for a very LONG time I was really good at getting STRESSED about EVERYTHING.

Now I know better. I’ve learned some easier ways — acceptance, curiosity, creativity — these things make life is easier. There is more flow.

Action is an Antidote to Worry

Do I still get stressed? Well, to quote a friend, (for real) ‘Does a fat baby fart?” Yes. I get stressed and I come unraveled. Sometimes I cry and I’ve even been known to rant a bit. And worry and stew.

I’ll wake up in the middle of the night fretting about how Sweet P is doomed to live alone without friends (and shoes, apparently, since she can never find them) and five seconds later be thinking about how her great friends and how AWESOME she is, which takes me right back to thoughts about how she definitely won’t have any friends if she’s too bossy and PLEASE those table manners – at-least-chew-with-your-mouth-closed-when-dining-with-the-Queen, some day. If we get through this one.

Then, I wake up (exhausted of course) and get going again. Moving – some days even gliding — through the very things that had me worried and off balance and afraid. Action is the antidote to worry.

So, enough of this little pep talk. All I’m saying is this: CRAP is going to come down. AND, you can handle it. You have GOT this. No matter how big or how small, you can do it.

In Wednesday’s post, I’ll tell you more about the three things that have made ALL the difference in my stress levels. Things that mostly keep me centered and engaged without letting the stress and worry derail me. I’m thinking they might work for you too.