First Impressions: Never Underestimate the Power of a Smile and Looking Your Best
We already know that warmth, competence, and physical attractiveness are the three primary characteristics that affect our first impressions. Did you realize that your smile and how you are dressed will do as much as anything to impact the impression you leave on others?
The Power of a Smile
Like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we are treated. Psychologists have found that traits such as likeability, competence, and trustworthiness are interpreted in facial expressions. Your smile is most important. When you smile, you are likely to get a warm reception. It is hard for the other person not to reciprocate.
Researchers at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco say we can pick up a smile from 30 meters away. If you wait until you are shaking someone’s hand, it might be too late. It’s also always a good idea to smile when you make a call, regardless of who you might be speaking with. The warmth of a smile creates a positive first impression!
It is traditionally said that 7% of the meaning of a communication comes from the words themselves while another 38% is based on tone of voice and the remaining 55% on body language. Are your arms crossed? Are you leaning back? Or, are you smiling, engaged in the conversation, leaning forward, and nodding?
A Word About Dress
A picture is worth a thousand words. So, the “picture” you present says much about you to the person you are meeting for the first time. Your dress sends a message about you, your skills and your organization. While it only takes a few seconds to form a first impression, more than half of the first impression is based on appearance. You must ask yourself, “Is my appearance saying the right things to help me create a positive first impression?”
Professional dress is a critical component to you and your organization’s brand. Maintaining a competitive edge requires that you and your staff sustain a consistent visual impression with those whom you serve. Dressing in a professional manner garners respect from the other person. Appropriate dress makes a good first impression. It also allows you to feel confident and poised. If you want to be taken seriously, you must dress for success.