In a world where when can buy our groceries by simply raising our phones, and pay our bills by snapping a picture of our cheques, it’s hard to step away from high expectations and try to find the genuinity in things and people. When it comes to first meeting people, how do you know you’ll get along, or what kind of person they are?

Let’s face it: first impressions are a big deal! You can only make them once and it can be very difficult to change them, so it’s important to you get it right. The good news is anyone can pull off a great first impressions by using impression management techniques. Now don’t get intimidated, I know the term sounds very corporate but the truth is it works just as well if you are the new mum getting to know other mums at your kids new school or looking for a life mate just as well as it does for the corporate high flyer.

I know we’ve been taught not to judge a book by it’s cover, but in reality – it’s just a ideal, and we continue to look at a book’s front and back cover before deciding if it’s worth flicking through some inner pages.  So to, you are judged by what others initially see. This doesn’t refer to just how you look, but also how you behave and carry yourself when interacting with others. 

I use the following four words developed in the 1930’s by Professor Dale Leathers to help assure a great impression. All four areas are important, but their order of important changes depending on the actual situation. When your image is in sync with these words events will often proceed smoothly and you’ll be afforded the time for people to get to know you better; you’ll be invited into the fray and your period of social or business proof will have begun.

The words are:

  • Credibility
  • Likeability
  • Confidence 
  • Attractiveness

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In essence this is being believable/genuine/truthful–are you who you say are? Do you act on things when you say you will? Can you be trusted? It’s a perceived quality that is assigned to you based on a known reputation and/or a mix of visual and behavioral clues. When credibility is attained so is trust.

No one wants to come off as “fake” or bogus, because no one wants to be around people they perceive as phony. Think of the infamous tween movie scene of Mean Girls when the cruel Regina George compliments a girl’s “vintage” skirt, then turns around to frenemy Cady Heron and mocks the very same skirt she complimented minutes ago.

In the interview context credibility means, the interviewees have dressed and groomed themselves to look the part, are on time, seem calm and waiting patiently in the reception area. Even if you’re nervous on the inside, you should always keep a cool demeanor.

Action Point: When you are next attending an interview, seeing a bank manager, putting your hand-up to be on a committee, attending an association meeting or social gathering, or going on a first date think through what credibility will look and act like to those you will be before. You want to appear calm, cool, and collected even if you feel like you’re falling apart on the inside.

Credibility rates highest in business and corporate situations and third on the list in many social situations.  Learn more about credibility.

LIKEABILITY

This comprises of two areas:

How much a person sees you as ‘like them’ / ‘similar to them’.

It’s human nature to like people who like us, and we also like people who are like us. Think about it for a minute, we are constantly seeking points of similarity, and as a result are attracted to people who are like us in terms of values, social status, ethnicity, body profile, age, interests and experiences. Shared traits make us feel safe, appreciated and part of a tribe.

One way to achieve likeability is by dressing in a similar manner to those you wish to work or socialize with.  Another is behaving in a similar way.  Each helps connect you with the group and leads to a feeling of warmth and open-ous toward you.

How friendly, agreeable and easy you are to get along with.

Unless you want to spend an entire party sipping on wine by yourself in a corner, it’s important that you look friendly and approachable. 

Most people want to live in harmony making the traits of friendliness, caring, openness, and empathy cherished values. When you are open and welcoming, people are instantly drawn to you. Nice people like other nice people, there’s no need for hard science to back that fact up.

Would you want to spend time around someone who appears to be self-important, chilly or rude? Think about it. I’d rather be apart of the group laughing over casual conversation.

Action Point: The next time you have a meeting with a group who are important to you, think about all the way you can subtly demonstrate similarity with them through your dress, conversation and knowledge. I don’t mean find out what someone is wearing and copy the look down pat. But if you’re meeting at a fancy restaurant in celebration of something, look just as nice as everyone else.

Think about your body language as well as, the way you’ll greet and treat people.

Likeability rates second in business and corporate situations and first for many social situations. Learn more about likeability.

Be freindly

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CONFIDENCE

No one is saying you should strut down the street and go on and on about the reasons why you think you’re better than others. However, if you display a lack of confidence you’ll be in trouble from the get-go. It’s hard to make any kind of connection with others if you appear to be shy, meek or some one who prefers to observe from the back. It’s a recipe for never get noticed and the strong and confident always rule the weak.

A lack of confidence shown through body language, dress or grooming, or speech will instantly give rise to questions in the minds of others. Why is she acting like that? Isn’t she prepared? Is she lying? Is this her first time? These questions will give rise to discomfort that in turn will have you being left alone to stare at everyone else.

Holding an upright and relaxed posture, walking with purpose, looking people in the eyes and smiling genuinely when they speak to you, being the first to offer your hand and give a firm hand shake while introducing yourself and others in a friendly and assertive way are just a few examples of confidence.

Action Point: Think about how you enter a room or approach a new group of people. Are you hunched, or trying to make yourself smaller? If it’s meek or shy, you’re doing yourself a complete disservice. Practice greeting people and introducing yourself, notice how you stand when you are in a new situation and what signals you may be unconsciously sending to others. Even ask for feedback from a few friends. Like eating an elephant, take it one bite at a time.
One thing I can tell you, is like an actor who needs a dress rehearsal to truly get into character, you too will experience a rise in confidence when you know you are dressed and groomed well–think of it like your personal coat of armor. Investing in an outfit that makes you feel the part is well worth the price paid, and confident people know they are worth it. 

Confidence rates equal second in business and corporate situations and second for many social situations. Learn more about confidence.

Confidence

ATTRACTIVENESS

Now this is the elephant in the room! It’s such a taboo subject but I’m going to give it to you straight and clear–your appearance matters! I don’t mean you have to look like Angelina Jolie or you immediately fail at life. However, your face and over all appearance is the first thing people see, and it sets the scene for everything that will follow. Fact: everyone stereotypes whether they want to admit it or not.

I’ve worked for many corporations to teach others impression management, and the bottom line is that they expect you to bring assets to the organisation 4- 5 times what they pay you. They also expect you to be a good representative of the attitudes and culture of the company. When it comes to your grooming and dress the expectation is for you to do the best with what you’ve got.

No one expects you to wear high price tag, designer clothes–truthfully, few can’t tell them apart from everyday brands. Clothes that suit your shape and age, are appropriately respectful for your place of work and their clients, and are clean while being nicely coordinated is all that is expected of you.

Make no mistake that men and women lose jobs because of their dress or grooming, but will rarely these days be given this as the reason for being passed over. A too-high of a heel hear, or a higher hem there can be an easy deal breaker.

Outside of the corporate workplace, personal attractiveness is also something to be taken seriously. Dressing in an authentic manner while making the most of your shape shows you value yourself and have a good self-esteem as well as self-confidence.

Action Point: If you think that your appearance may be the thing that’s holding you back then I suggest you see an image consultant (not a stylist!) to help you get on the right track. From simple dress and grooming consultations to personal shopping and in-home wardrobe sessions, they can quickly get you smiling at your reflection and appreciating the compliments that will come your way. Image Consultant Directory. Online Style Program.

Attractiveness rates equal second in business and corporate situations and second for many social situations.  Learn more about the importance of Attractiveness.

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  1. Thanks so much for a short yet sweetly accurate article. I’m saving it – Thinking I will print this out too!

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