There are many things in life that you can do multiple times. Making a first impression isn’t one of them.
First impressions are lasting. Once a first impression is made, if it’s less than great, unfortunately it takes a long time to change it.
Experts say it takes between five and 15 seconds for someone to form a first impression about a person. According to William Thourlby in his book “You Are What You Wear: The Key to Business Success,” the first time we meet someone, we’re trying to size them up. People look at socio-economic status, level of education, social position, level of sophistication, economic background, social background, moral character and level of success.
First impressions are influenced by our backgrounds, including our families, friends, education, religion, jobs and other factors. These include body language, dress and appearance, and voice. Your body language and appearance speak much louder than words. Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake.
Quite possibly, one of the most important and terrifying times to make a spectacular first impression is when you are interviewing for or starting a new job.
The first day of a new job can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Even if you never plan to leave your current job, you’ll probably be promoted or switch to a new position at some point, and the experience will be much the same. There are some guidelines for relieving some of that stress on day one that you should keep in mind.
- Don’t be late. In fact, it’s best to be a little early. Double-check where you’re supposed to be and what time you’re expected to start. If it’s a new workplace, test your route and give yourself extra time for a prompt arrival.
- Learn the lay of the land. Your manager will probably show you around, but make an extra effort to remember what you see so you don’t have to repeat the same questions. Yes, you can always ask for directions later, but you’ll impress people more by being a quick study.
- Master people’s names. Again, you’ll gain a reputation for attention and thoughtfulness by memorizing the names of everyone you meet. There are a variety of memory strategies that will help you match names and faces. There is no bigger compliment than using someone’s name when you speak to them.
- Bring your lunch. Maybe the boss or co-workers will take you out to lunch on your first day, but don’t count on it. Stay in the workplace and eat in the lunchroom so you get a chance to meet more people. Just don’t waste too much time chowing down on your first day – demonstrate your eagerness to get back to work.
- Smile. Put a pleasant expression on your face. Be friendly. Show that you’re glad to be there. People respond to smiles and sincerity. Ask questions and be interested in your new co-workers. They’ll remember and appreciate your effort.
- Restrain your instincts. Your first day is a time to learn, not to show off what you think you know. So show you are glad to be there, but don’t let your enthusiasm get the best of you lest you come off as insincere. Concentrate instead on what you can contribute and how you can fit in to the culture.
On the other side of the equation, when I hire people, I am acutely aware of the first impression they leave on me. Will a customer have the same reaction?
We’ve all had cringe-worthy moments hoping we came across as positive as we could. Remember the movie, “Pretty Woman”? Julia Roberts’ character goes into a swanky Beverly Hills shop looking for a wardrobe upgrade, wearing a very casual and somewhat provocative outfit. The saleswomen ignore her, thinking she can’t afford their clothing. She gets the message and walks out of the store as quickly as she came in.
But a couple days later, she returns, dressed to the nines. The sales staff is most attentive, anticipating a huge sale from this elegant woman. They obviously don’t recognize her. So she reminds them that they had snubbed her and so she took her business elsewhere. Nothing could make up for their pathetic first impression.
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Entrepreneur ☆ International Speaker ☆ #1 Best Selling Author ☆ Women Empowerment
Recently on The School of Greatness podcast, I had the opportunity to interview Steve Weatherford, the former NFL Super Bowl champion who was one of the best punters in the world, about his secrets to success.
One of the most powerful things that entrepreneurs and success-seekers can take away from the world of sports and athletic achievement is the effectiveness of visualization and positive thinking. Study after study points to the power of this simple yet life-changing practice.
What most people don’t realize is that the people who are on the top of their success game already are constantly learning, feeding their souls and minds to continue to grow. One of my favorite things about Steve is that he is so successful, in the top 1 percent of the 1 percent in his niche, one of the best in the world at what he does, yet he is transitioning to the next thing in his life (entrepreneurship) and is still learning and growing.
“Visualize your day going perfect in detail. Commit to the habit for 30 days and your life will change.”
Steve’s key life hack is positive self-talk. He recommends that you “talk yourself through every day. In the morning say, ‘Today is going to be a great day and this is why’.… Visualize your day going perfect in detail. Commit to the habit for 30 days and your life will change.”
He doesn’t believe in realistic. He visualizes every single thing going perfectly. Does it? No. But having the vision that it will makes a big difference.
“You have to see things happen in your life before you can do it. It is visualization. I learned that as an athlete; don’t ever go out onto the field of competition thinking about what you don’t want to have happen, because once you let those negative thoughts into your mind, they can more easily manifest.
“If you are in a place of positivity, your percentage chance of hitting the perfect punt is higher, much higher, because you are thinking about what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do, or what you don’t want to happen.
“Your brain is the most powerful muscle you have.”
Steve says his approach to life is to envision, plan and take advantage of Monday’s momentum.
“I have been able to accomplish some amazing things because every Sunday I write down the goals that I want to accomplish in every aspect of my life. I map out my vision and accomplishments for the week and I break it into days. Monday is the day I attack the most. I get up early on Monday because it sets the tone for the rest of the week—my mindset, my productivity, my efficiency. Monday is the day I create momentum.”
Steve talks about the importance of “self-scouting,” or reflecting on your day to review just like athletes watching videos after a game. Identify what you did well and identify the things you did poorly to try to lock and load for the next day.
Formula for Prosperity
Steve says his formula for prosperity is identifying what your vision is, maintaining your focus, trusting your plan, working every day and being diligent, consistent and positive because you have your vision of where you want to be. Consistent work is the biggest piece of making your vision happen.
“Prosperity to me is a combination of health, wealth, gratitude and love, and I gravitate toward people like that because I want to create that in my life and I want to share that with other people as well.”
Steve says there are dreamers everywhere, but how many dreamers are consistently making the daily investment, that daily sacrifice? It is going to require those daily decisions, that compound interest over time, to get just that much closer to your goal. People have a real problem choosing what they want 10 years from now over what they want today.
Make it a priority to surround yourself with positive people who encourage and also teach you.
Steve says he is most interested now in making an impact on people. “You are gonna die. But what are you going to do with your life? You can’t take it with you. What are you going to do between now and when you die that is going to impact people?”
Every mistake that you make, every failure that you have, Steve’s mindset is this: “I am going to win or I am going to learn. I don’t think about failing, I just think about opportunities to grow. You are never going to lose… you are going to win or you are going to learn. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from your greatness.
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Entrepreneur ☆ International Speaker ☆ #1 Best Selling Author ☆ Women Empowerment
The subconscious mind – something that has a huge effect on every action, but is constantly overlooked.
Instead, the focus is often on our conscious mind, which contains the critical thought function of our brains. The subconscious is the powerful layer underneath. It encompasses the awareness of all things the conscious mind cannot recognize.
Once the subconscious is tapped into, this remarkable part of the brain plays many different roles in your everyday life.
The Memory Bank
Your subconscious mind is like a huge memory bank. Its capacity is virtually unlimited. It permanently stores everything that ever happens to you.
By the time you reach the age of 21, you’ve already permanently stored more than one hundred times the contents of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.
Under hypnosis, older people can often remember, with perfect clarity, events from fifty years before. Your unconscious memory is virtually perfect. It is your conscious recall that is suspect.
The function of your subconscious mind is to store and retrieve data.
Its job is to ensure that you respond exactly the way you are programmed. Your subconscious mind makes everything you say and do fit a pattern consistent with your self-concept. This is your “Master Program.”
The Unquestioning Servant
Your subconscious mind is subjective. It does not think or reason independently. It merely obeys the commands it receives from your conscious mind.
Your conscious mind can be thought of as the gardener, planting seeds. Your subconscious mind can be thought of as the garden, or fertile soil, in which the seeds germinate and grow.
Your conscious mind commands and your subconscious mind obeys.
Your subconscious mind is an unquestioning servant. It works day and night to make your behavior fits a pattern consistent with your emotionalized thoughts, hopes, and desires.
Your subconscious mind grows either flowers or weeds in the garden of your life. Whichever you plant is based on the mental equivalents you create.
The Preserver Of Balance
Your subconscious mind has what is called a homeostatic impulse. It keeps your body temperature at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It keeps you breathing regularly and keeps your heart beating at a certain rate.
Through your autonomic nervous system, it maintains a balance among the hundreds of chemicals in your billions of cells. Your entire physical machine functions in complete harmony most of the time.
Your subconscious mind also practices homeostasis in your mental realm. It keeps you thinking and acting in a manner consistent with what you have done and said in the past.
The Comfort Zone
All your habits of thinking and acting are stored in your subconscious mind. It has memorized all your comfort zones and it works to keep you in them.
Your subconscious mind causes you to feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable whenever you attempt to do anything new or different. It goes against changing any of your established patterns of behavior.
You can feel your subconscious pulling you back toward your comfort zone each time you try something new. Even thinking about doing something different from what you’re accustomed to will make you feel tense and uneasy.
One of the biggest habits of successful men and women is always stretching themselves or pushing themselves out of their comfort zones. They are very aware how quickly the comfort zone, in any area, becomes a rut. They know that complacency is the great enemy of creativity and future possibilities.
Tap Into Your Subconscious
Remember, for you to grow and get out of your comfort zone, you have to be willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable doing new things. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly until you get a feel for it. Keep trying until you develop a new comfort zone at a new, higher level of competence.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Richard Thaler from the University of Chicago. Like Daniel Kahneman (who won the Nobel in 2002), Thaler works at the intersection of psychology and economics. His work has focused on people’s economic behaviors and on ways that people’s behavior differs from the predictions of economic models.
One of the things that Thaler has become known for is the concept of the “nudge,” which is a small change to someone’s environment that can have a big influence on their behavior in economic situations. The most famous example of a nudge is forcing people to “opt out” of default options. Suppose you are signing up for a driver’s license and you are asked whether you want to become an organ donor. Typically, to become an organ donor, you have to “opt in” by checking a box on a form. However, you could change the default on the form and assume that everyone would be an organ donor unless they opt out of doing it.
Research suggests that people typically stick with the default option on a form. That means policy makers can decide which option they want most people to choose and make that one the default.
My personal favorite concepts from Thaler’s work is the idea of mental accounting. The idea behind mental accounting is that people don’t treat all of their money (or time or effort or other resources) as if they have one big pool of it. Instead, they have separate mental accounts, and when they spend money (or time or effort) they keep track of it based on the mental account it came from. These accounts are typically based on people’s goals.
For example, suppose you decide to treat your friend to a movie. Each ticket costs $10, so your total will be $20. When you get to the front of the line, you look in your wallet and discover you lost a $20 bill. Do you still decide to go to the movie?
Most people given this scenario say that they will see the movie. It seems like a strange question to ask.
Suppose, though, that the scenario is slightly different. Now, you decide to treat your friend to a movie where each ticket costs $10. You stop by the theater that morning and grab two tickets (for $20). When you get to the theater, you realize you have lost the tickets. Do you still decide to go to the movie?
Now, people often still decide to go to the movie, but they now feel bad about it. It feels as though the movie costs twice as much.
What is the difference here? In both cases, the economics are the same. You have two tickets to see the movie and you have $40 less than you did when you started the day. But, psychologically they feel different.
In the first case, the $20 bill you lost came out of your overall “wealth” because you hadn’t applied it toward any goal yet. In the second case, though, you apply the first $20 you spent toward your mental entertainment account. When you lose the ticket and buy another one, you add that $20 to your mental entertainment account as well.
Why would people do this?
The idea is that by keeping these separate mental accounts, it is easier to engage in self-control. When you start to spend too much against one of your mental accounts, it makes it easier to walk away from new purchases. For example, by feeling that you already spent $40 toward entertainment that evening, you might decide not to go out for snacks or drinks after the movie to avoid spending more money that you should on entertainment. This same set of psychological mechanisms might also help people at work balance the amount of time they spend on different projects or help students to avoid studying too much for one exam and not enough for another.
Many of Thaler’s studies focus on interesting decision processes like these. Like Kahneman and Tversky, he often finds strategies people use that fly in the face of predictions of economic models. However, his work has also been quite interested in understanding how people use these strategies to govern their own behavior.
Thaler, R. H. (1985). Mental accounting and consumer choice. Marketing Science, 4, 199-214.
Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Mamie Adams always enjoyed going to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly. She went there to buy stamps just before the holidays one year and the lines were particularly long. Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby.
“I know,” said Mamie, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.”
The personal touch is no laughing matter. Many people shop and buy where they feel appreciated and comfortable.
I’ve been in sales for a long time, and – to me – the concept of personal touch hasn’t changed. People buy from other people because of likeability, chemistry and people skills. That’s why every speech I give I ask the question – What’s the sweetest sound in the English language? It’s the sound of your name on someone else’s lips.
Ever wonder why servers in restaurants introduce themselves? It’s the personal interaction that goes beyond delivering your food and mugging for a bigger tip. It’s to make you feel comfortable and “leave a good taste in your mouth” for the establishment.
The personal touch works in all areas of business from attracting and retaining employees to engendering loyalty in your customer base.
I know the headmistress of a private school who makes it a practice to learn the names of each of the more than 1,000 kids attending her school. If they’re new and she hasn’t met them, she learns their names by studying their pictures. On the first day of school each year, she greets each student by name as they get off buses.
Imagine how reassuring it is to a frightened kindergartner, suddenly thrust into strange surroundings, to be recognized immediately by an adult who is in charge of his or her life. Or to the child’s anxious parents. When they ask Junior how it went the first day, they discover that the headmistress of the school has taken a personal interest in their child.
In the 12 years this headmistress was at the school, enrollment more than doubled and the endowment increased sixfold. Not all the result of learning those names of course, but it certainly didn’t hurt to have a headmistress who understood that her performance as a salesperson was as important as her role as an educator.
To quote Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” one of my all-time favorite movies: “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”
I wrote a short lesson in my book “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” that simply states: Once you attach your personality to a proposition, people start reacting to the personality and stop reacting to the proposition.
But is all that about to change?
Electronic self-service may be the wave of the future for many organizations, but lots of consumers are bucking the trend. The CRM Buyer website reports that researchers surveyed more than 24,000 consumers in 12 countries about customer interactions. Here’s what they found:
- 80 percent prefer customer service from a human instead of an automated system.
- 83 percent say that interacting with a customer service rep is important on the phone or in a store.
- 68 percent believe they’re more likely to get a better deal when negotiating in person instead of online.
- 18 percent said they would renew products or services because of good personal customer service, even if they were more expensive.
Are companies paying attention?
The British blog Fresh Tracks notes: “It’s so much easier to fire off a text or an email instead of making an appointment in person, writing a carefully thought-out letter, or even picking up the phone. More of us are allowing technology to replace elements of our face-to-face relationships. In many instances it’s hugely convenient and efficient to send someone a quick text and receive a reply in seconds.”
But it’s difficult to put nuance into electronic communication. You can program responses, direct customers to FAQ pages, promise that their messages will be returned within 24 hours or whatever. But never forget that the personal touch is already one step removed, and you must respond as promised or they are on to the next website.
When you can’t be one-on-one with customers, make sure they know you are still there for them. Pay attention to your reviews, handle complaints immediately, deliver more than you promise. Keep your finger on the pulse.