First impressions… with anxiety or confidence!
by LISSA WEIDENFELLER, Principal
North Rockford Middle School
Did you know that it only takes 30 seconds to make a first impression? Once a bad first impression is formed, it takes approximately 20 additional encounters to change that opinion. With so much on the line, being anxious about meeting someone for the first time is normal, especially when it is someone that you feel is important or that you want to impress. An example could be a job or college interviewer, instructor, teacher or coach. To overcome these anxieties, you must understand the basics of first impressions. According to the Flippen Group, authors of Capturing Kids’ Hearts, the following cues are what people notice when you are meeting others for the first time. They include:
• facial expressions—Smile it is free!
• handshake—firm, but not too strong. Do not twist your wrist. Twisting your wrist is a sign of domination.
• tone of voice—Speak clearly and loud enough for the person to hear you. A positive attitude is communicated through your voice.
• dress and grooming—The situation will determine how you need to dress. Regardless of the situation, your attire should look complete.
• eye contact—Make it!
• posture—Do not slouch or pull away. Lean in when handshaking.
• level of relaxation—Feel confident. Remember the past successes in your life that will make you feel proud.
• energy—Are you excited and feel honored to meet this person? If so, let your energy show it.
Practice these skills and do not be afraid to recognize and initiate contact with someone else. They will at least know that you care! When you meet someone for the first time and start to engage, it is the first step to building a potential relationship. Remember, your tone and body language must say, “I am enthusiastic about meeting you,” or “I am excited about being here, and I want the position.”
With these basic skills, I hope the next time you have an interview or meet someone for the first time, your anxiety will be reduced and your confidence will help you make a good first impression.