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5 Steps to Improve a First Impression

What really happens when you are kind to someone? Whilst we all might know that when we’re kind to others, it creates a positive image for ourselves. What may surprise you is that being kind can actually change the way we perceive someone else's abilities or work.

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What really happens when you are kind to someone? Whilst we all might know that when we’re kind to others, it creates a positive image for ourselves. What may surprise you is that being kind can actually change the way we perceive someone else’s abilities or work.

In this post, I’ll explain why kindness is so important, what effect it has on others, and provide 5 simple steps you can take to instantly boost others’ perception of yourself.

 

My flat was recently flooded from my upstairs neighbour, so I booked 2 different painters to come see the damage and give me a price estimate. Both of them looked very professional and had good reviews online. The only difference was that one of them was also very kind and friendly, rather than neutral.

 

I remember the painter being very empathetic, saying that he was sorry that I need to deal with the damage I haven’t caused and that he will try to do his best to make the whole process hassle-free for me.

 

I know very little about repainting walls, however, because the painter was nice and friendly to me, I believed that he was the one who would do a good job on my flat and chose him.

 

I judged the quality of someone’s work based on the fact that this person was nice. The scientific term for this is the “halo effect”. It was first introduced in 1920 by psychologist Edward Thorndike, who claimed that one’s impression of someone will influence one’s view of their abilities. If you’re interested to learn more about how to make a great first impression, go check out my courses.

 

Every time I ask my clients how they perceive themselves, the answer is the same – friendly, positive, helpful, etc. So how can we boost the perception of ourselves so that others will react to us in a positive way?

 

Here are my 5 simple steps:

1.Say hello

 Greetings are the basic acts of courtesy and we practice them on a daily basis, from the very informal “Hello” to the official greetings and salutations in a formal setting. Yet, I often hear my clients saying that they feel ignored by others. Say “Hello,” “Hi,” “Good morning,” or a similar greeting to people you know and even to people you don’t know. The person that you say “hello” to on the way to the meeting may be the person sitting next to you during the meeting, and you will have established rapport already. People believe that they greet others, and that they greet back, but I encourage you to monitor yourself over the next couple of weeks and really make sure that you do.

 

I was once accused of not greeting back by one of my colleagues. At first, I thought that couldn’t be true. I always greet everyone. I tried to recap the situations when this could possibly happen and then I realised that I wasn’t being fully present and completely aware of my surroundings during that period of time, because I was preoccupied with work. So even if you’re busy or running late to a meeting, make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and people you’re passing by and that you acknowledge them. 

2. Engage with others.

Make some small talk with other people. What I do when I’m about to meet a friend of mine, whom I haven’t seen for a long time, is do a little research and try to build on where we left off. I dig into my notes where I keep track of my friends and relatives’ important life events. If you’re connected on social media, scroll through their page to see if they have a new pet, or if they have just returned from a trip. Write it down or take a mental note and use it in your conversation.

 

If you’ve just met this person, start with something casual and topical. A good way to start a conversation is by observing the place you’re in and giving your remarks or observations, e.g. on food, decor, the hospitality of the host, etc. Be careful with prickly topics, such as discussing personal information, politics, or finance.

3. Avoid gossip.

Speak well of others and even if someone else starts to talk negatively about others, do not participate in the conversation. Conversation should be kept positive and light, without complaints or comments behind someone else’s back (unless it’s a compliment). 

4. Be helpful.

Every little thing counts, such as offering someone your seat on public transport, or offering help to your colleague who may be struggling with assignments. I have recently offered help to someone at the airport. The airline required every passenger to wear an FFP2 mask, not a respirator; one passenger struggled to buy one at the airport and was denied boarding the plane. I had some spare masks so I offered him mine. It cost me (almost) nothing but saved his day (and flight).

5. Have an exit line ready.

An exit line brings the conversation to a full circle and paves the way for the next encounter. Learn a line or two that works best for you, such as:  “Nice talking to you”, “Have a great day/weekend”, “It was great catching up with you”, “It’s been great talking to you, but I need to catch up with a few other people. Hopefully we can see each other again before the end of the event!” Make sure you include their name. If you want to take it a step further, thank them for their time. There’s no harm in being gracious and showing how much you enjoyed talking to them.

 

Being friendly and kind has a really powerful effect on the perception of the quality of your work. However, it won’t probably help you when the quality of your work is poor. It’s the finishing touch that will encourage people to view you and your work positively. People will enjoy working with you or for you if you are nice to them. And that’s something we all want, right?

 

If you want more tips on how to make a great first impression, check out my classes. For more personalised help, I’m also available for 1-on-1 sessions. 

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