Research shows that the first impression is formed within 7 seconds of meeting somebody. If you have a job interview, the manager can make a decision about hiring you in just 30 seconds. Avoiding the common mistakes that ruin this first impression could increase your chances of finding a job, a friend, a client, or a life partner.
We collected some common blunders that can make you appear rude, bored, selfish, and annoying in the eyes of a person you meet for the first time. Read this list through to the end to find out how to avoid errors and use your 7 seconds wisely.
1. Weak handshake
Limp handshakes can be a real killer of the first impression. Research shows that people with a weak handshake are judged as being shy, anxious, less open, and lacking any ability. Another common mistake people make is holding the other person’s hand for too long. If you want to succeed, give a firm handshake and follow the two-second-rule.
2. Wrong hand position
Mind the position of your hands while sitting. You can put your hands in your lap, but don’t put them in your pockets because it will suggest that you are hiding something. If you put your hands on the table, don’t squeeze your hands too tight or put your palms down, it could indicate that you want to control the interviewer.
Also, while placing hands on the table and loosely folding them is an appropriate and even preferrable position in the Western world, this gesture would be considered rude in Japan and India.
3. Chewing gum
If a person sees you for the first time and you are chewing gum, they might think you are sombebody that is immature, childish, and somewhat lower class. Chewing gum is a bad idea at a job interview. However, in less formal circumstances, people chewing gum are usually evaluated as more friendly and approachable.
4. Avoiding eye-contact
Eye-contact is a powerful tool for making a good first impression. Research shows that people maintaining eye contact while talking and listening are often judged as more confident and intelligent. People avoiding eye contact, on the other hand, are viewed as less sincere, less attractive, and more anxious.
5. Playing with your hair
While women have been shown to touch their hair up to 18 times a day, playing with hair can send the wrong signal to the person you’re sepaking with. While it’s often used as a flirting technique, it can also indicate anxiety, low self-esteem, stress, and discomfort. When playing with hair becomes repetitive and obsessive, it can even signal an impulse control disorder.
6. Wrong conversation topics
There are some taboo topics which won’t help you make a good first impression on anyone: health problems, money, religion, ex-bosses or ex-partners, politics, or personal life and problems. Try not to focus the conversation only on yourself and don’t forget to listen to the person you’re speaking with.
7. Invading personal space
Physical space is the distance you make between you and the person you’re speaking with. Researchers distinguish four levels of personal space. The distance between you and the person you’ve just met at a formal meeting should be about 4 to 12 feet. If you approach the other person too closely you may seem agressive, while standing too far away shows you aren’t interested.
8. Making distracting noises
Any random sounds you make, like tapping your foot, tapping your fingers, or cracking your knuckles may be annoying and distracting to others. Tapping can indicate nervousness, irritation, or impatience, and can also suggest that you are lying or trying to irritate others. While cracking knuckles can help you relieve stress, it’s one of the top most annoying sounds, according to a survey conducted by The New York Times.
9. Frequently checking your watch or cellphone
The average person checks their phone 110 times a day! Yet, it’s very impolite to check your phone or watch during a conversation. It shows that you are not interested in the other person, that you are bored, and that you have better things to do. Research shows that even having your phone on the table next to you reduces a conversation’s quality and engagement.
10. Forgetting names
It is embarassing if you forget a person’s name, especially if this person remembers yours. To avoid this, immediately repeat the name after the introduction like: “Hi, Anna! Nice meeting you.” Don’t use the excuse that you are terrible with names, if you are interested in the other person the name will stay in your head.
11. Being late
When you arrive late, you give the impression that you are unreliable, bad with planning, don’t value others’ time, and lack commitment. Try to manage your time in a way that you won’t be anxious about being late and won’t need to rush. Even when you arrive on time but had to run before that, you won’t be centered and focused enough.
12. Bad attire
Statistics says that 55% of the first impression is based on your appearance. Some studies show that your appearance, height, weight, hair color, and amount of make up can influence the size of your paycheck. If you meet somebody for the first time try to be conservative and neutral in your choice of clothing, be polished, and don’t use heavy perfume.