Have you ever wondered why you immediately create a mental map or perception for people you just encountered? Or perhaps you’re wondering why you seem to immediately click with some people while finding it difficult to get along with others? This is as a result of the first impression that they exude upon your encounter. While some may portray an impression that is a perfect representation of their overall personality, others may not exactly be able to showcase their exact persona due to immediate circumstance in the surrounding environment. It is in such cases as the latter that one can say that the first impression is wrong. However, it is quite safe to say that the first impression that people create can tell a lot about them and whether or not it represents their whole being.
Simply put, a first impression is the immediate perception a person is able to project to others that tells them about who they are. In fact, these impressions are so profound that they could very well be irreversible in most cases. There are only so many numbers of encounters that we make throughout our lives and with each one; we subconsciously set them out as either positive, negative, fun, important, amazing etc. memories. This therefore makes it a bit difficult to revisit past experiences and meetings to ultimately convince yourself that you had it wrong the first time. In fact, with every new encounter, your behaviour, appearance, mannerisms and personality is evaluated and your audience forms a seemingly indelible impression of you. These scenarios are at the centre of human interaction and have been the basis upon which relationships are either formed or broken. Not only are they of great importance, they are very vital as they are a key factor that set the tone for the following relationship.
From casual encounters to serious and corporate environments, it is important that the very first image that we project is exactly what we want to. However, this happens so fast and unexpectedly that even your audience may not have a chance to decide what they feel for themselves as their brain takes centre stage and within a tenth of one second, they would have processed a bulk of an impression about you. This starts of from visual cues like what you look like, they way you move, your blinking pattern, the colour of your teeth and quick inspection of your personal hygiene to other more subtle cues like oral and tactile signals that expands to form a longer lasting perception. These could include your smell, your posture, your confidence level, and even other more emotional based instincts. It then tapers off into a gut feeling that assesses whether you are a threat or not and it is at this point that all of this information is processed to decide how likable you are. While it may seem like a lot, all of this surprisingly could take place even before you talk or while you speak.
Why then does it last so long? We are all wired to hold on to our initial and primal belief of a person or concept and changing this could often be difficult and would require an elaborate arrangement that is able to jolt the mind back to a new state where it could find a new way of portraying the individual in person.
It is therefore important to always create an appearance that is suitable for you the role you wish to represent. This means that you must first start off with improving your appearance and even cleaning it up in order to properly personify your character. However, one must not mix this up with losing your identity in the process. A good case study here is an interview scenario; if you are setting out for an interview for a formal role, it is always important to appear well dressed with a professional outlook that shows your interviewers that not only are you ready to fit into the work environment, but that you can understand the concept of the workplace and take necessary steps to see that all things are in order.
This is a very important concept that we must all learn, the ability to look the part and still maintain ones identity by being yourself is the ultimate key to delivering a great first impression. There are no cheat codes or tutorials available that can project a magical image of you other than that which you subconsciously project. Therefore, always strive to look your best and act with depth from within and you will create the exact image of yourself that you want others to see.