Body language, tone of voice, and our ability to listen all influence how others develop their initial thoughts about us.
As a journalist and public speaking coach, Celeste Headlee (USA) has spent years studying how successful people communicate. Here are four things that people who make a good first impression never do.
Never just focus on yourself
One of the most common mistakes is rushing to talk about yourself.
When we want to impress others, we often talk about our achievements, interests, and experiences. But this can backfire. Good communicators often pay close attention to what the other person is saying and interacting with, instead of focusing all of their attention on themselves.
Not indecently funny
If you can’t guess whether your joke will bring laughter or simply fail, don’t try. You should only joke when you really know someone and understand them.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be funny. Humor can be a great tool to relieve stress or get out of awkwardness. However, it is important to use positive humor, not negative.
Positive humor is about lifting each other up, gently creating a safe, comfortable space, showing gentleness and humility. Negative humor is a joke to put others down, laugh when others hurt, humiliate or ridicule, be defensive or competitive.
If you say something that the other person doesn’t find funny, admit it simply: “I’m sorry. I guess my joke wasn’t right.”
Never connect with someone unprepared
This is especially important when you know you’re about to meet someone like a senior executive or a new boss.
If you’re going to an event where the attendance list can be previewed, identify a few people you’d like to meet. Be prepared to be able to tell more than a little story. Then ask a question specific to their experience or what connected you to them and lead that question. For example, you could ask a specific question about their area of expertise or let the person know you’re a fan of their book.
Don’t think bad things
Meeting people for the first time can be a bit overwhelming and you can make mistakes. But if you don’t expect a perfect first meeting, you won’t overthink and stumble on words.
Be realistic and think positive. If you’re having fun, others will be more likely to absorb your energy and sense your enthusiasm.
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