You’ve heard the expression:
You only get one chance to make a first impression.
In your career, you are constantly judged by the first impression you make. If you are not interested in learning more about San Miguel de Allende. skip down to where I discuss first impressions.
I’m in my last week of Spanish immersion at Habla Hispana in San Miguel de Allende. Starting last Friday, I am working one-on-one with Martha. This has been the highlight of my experience in school. Among other things, Martha is teaching me to pronounce the words correctly. (quite a task).
Over the four weeks, I have added many words and phrases to my vocabulary. When I see the English words on a flash card. I remember the Spanish. However, if I only hear the words, my brain takes a moment to process. So when Martha asks me a question, she also writes the question, and my answer, and at the end of our class gives me her written pages
Big things are happening here in San Miguel. Last week I learned that San Miguel received Travel and Leisure’s award as the number 1 city in the world. If you get a chance, click on the link and read about San Miguel and spend three minutes watching the video.
Our class members were very active on Saturday. After my session learning with Martha, we all went to the Botanical Garden to hike. We saw the waterfalls, the dam, and the natural surroundings.
Saturday night we went to the first annual Ultimate Food & Art Fest Featuring Renowned Chefs & Artists. The event was held in Parque Benito Juarez. It is a huge and wonderful park. The last time Nancy and I visited here, we went to the park several times and watched organized girls basketball teams play.
On the way to the food and art festival. we saw a young 15-year-old and her court of young boys posing for her Quinceanera. They must have felt like movie stars with all the people, including me taking photos.
When I get back home, I’ll go back to working on my novel. My main character, Gabriela, is one of those outgoing lawyers who makes a positive first impression.
If you know anything about writing novels, you likely know as a writer you should try to show, don’t tell. But, just in case you are interested, some experts say show, don’t tell is a myth, or a lie. See: Why “Show, Don’t Tell” Is the Great Lie of Writing Workshops.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s just say I want to show that Gabriela makes good first impressions. I might say when she walks into a crowded room, heads turn like they are watching a top model walk down the run-way. As she walks, she smiles and makes eye contact with people seated near her. When she gets to the table, she pauses in front of Christopher, looks him directly in the eye, grasps his hand and arm and asks about his children by name. ( Ok, I admit this could be over the top, but I’m practicing here, so you’ll get the idea.)
Suppose you are going to a function where you will have the opportunity to connect with potential clients. You should apply the same principles. Stand tall, look and feel energetic. How can you be energetic?
- You might listen to music before the event. I always chose Tina Turner live concerts before I met anyone. When you meet someone later, you’re more likely to smile because you will still energized by the music.
- Look into their eyes and determine their eye color, because that will force you to pay close attention.
- Be open (arms not folded).
- Make sure your attitude is warm, confident, relaxed and engaged.
- Be genuinely interested in the other person. You can’t fake it.
What I have described may sound mechanical but it isn’t. If you watch people who connect with others, it is very natural.
I want to share with you a study done by professors and discussed in the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. In Nalini Ambady’s study, a group watching video, without sound, matched the evaluation of the students who had actually taken the course. The researchers kept reducing the time of the video until it was 2 seconds. The results stayed the same.
If you want to read about the study, check out: 10 Seconds: The Time It Takes a Student to Size You Up. There, you will find:
Ambady compared those snap judgments (10, 5, and 2 seconds) of teacher effectiveness with evaluations of those same professors made by their students after a full semester of classes, and she found they were also essentially the same.
For the study report, check out: Half a Minute: Teacher Evaluations from Thin Slices of Nonverbal behavior and Physical Attractiveness on Stanford Professor Nalini Ambady’s webpage.
What does Professor Ambady’s study tell us?
People, including your potential clients, including jurors during your next trial, make up their minds quickly and your body language is way more important than your words or tone of voice. Body language is your eyes, your smile and whether you are open.
Practice, practice, practice making a great first impression.