The Importance of a First Impression
Making a great first impression is imperative to becoming an influential leader. The ancient Greeks spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the effect of one personality on another. They broke down the process of communication into three parts, which they called ethos, pathos and logos.
The ethos of communication is defined as the ethical part. This revolves around the person you really are and, more important, the person you are perceived to be. If you are in sales or business, the way you are perceived by someone, which will largely determine the influence you have over him or her, will be strongly affected by your level of credibility, your ethos. In the area of personal credibility, the rule is that everything counts. Everything you do or don’t do either adds to or takes away from your credibility and your capability to influence someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, in essence, that what you are shouts at me so loudly, I cannot hear a word you are saying. Ethos is very important.
A First Impression Says Everything
Perhaps the simplest example of the application of this rule, that everything counts, involves your image or appearance. You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The fact is that when you first meet a person, he makes a judgment about you in approximately four seconds, and his judgment is finalized largely within 30 seconds of the initial contact. In a survey of the members of the American Personnel Consultants¾ those men and women who are responsible for hiring people for large companies¾members generally agreed that they made their decision to hire or not to hire a person within 30 seconds of the first meeting.
Everything Counts: Make a Personal Statement
Everything contributing to the way you look on the outside is important. If it’s not helping you, it’s hurting you. While you cannot control your physical features, you have total control over your dress and grooming. In fact, we generally assume that a person consciously and deliberately makes a personal statement about himself with every part of his appearance that he can affect in any way.
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Your clothes are responsible for 95 percent of the first impressionthat you make on someone because, in most instances, your clothes cover 95 percent of your body. Your grooming, your hair style and the other ways you can determine your appearance from the neck up also exert an inordinate influence on the way that you are perceived, on your ethos with someone. Your accessories, such as purse or briefcase, watch, tie, rings, pens and other elements, all make a statement that will or will not help to put you in a position to influence someone.
Now, here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, take complete control over every detail of your personal appearance and grooming. Resolve to look like a powerful, influential person in all your business activities.
Second, study fashion and proper dress so you know exactly what to wear and in what combination. Read a book, take a seminar or even hire an image consultant. Small changes in your appearance can change your life.
Thank you for reading this article about the importance of a first impression and why everything counts when becoming a leader. Please share and comment below!
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.
As we all very well know that a First Impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person; so no need to go into details.
Now, first of all let’s see what the Supporters of this slogan say, and what is the viewpoint of its Adversaries, and subsequently I’ll put forth my personal opinion.
THE SUPPORTERS’ VIEWPOINT
The Supporters of this notion have their own strong points and they are well justified in their opinion as also evident from our discussion in this forum.
William Hazlitt, the British Writer once said,” First Impressions are often the truest, as we find (not infrequently) to our cost, when we have been wheedled out of them by plausible professions or studied actions. A man's look is the work of years; it is stamped on his countenance by the events of his whole life, nay, more, by the hand of nature, and it is not to be got rid of easily.” The truth of the matter is that the first impression can actually play a pivotal role in the way a person perceives you or continue to perceive you in future.
The question is- Why is the first impression so important? How does the first impression play an important role in creating an impression that can last for a very long time or for that matter, forever? The answer is simple. When we meet someone, we have never met before; they do not have any clue about who we are. Since they do not know us or have never met us before, they do not have absolutely any knowledge about the person that we are. So, they judge us on the basis of what they see and hear. Everything else becomes secondary. The things that we say, the way in which we act and everything that indicates anything about our personality lays the foundation on which the other person builds an idea about our character or personality.
Once the foundation has been made, it becomes very difficult to change it. Thus, the first impression is extremely important because it creates the granite foundation for the way in which people perceive us. It provides people with the glasses through which they see us. This is precisely the reason why people should make every effort to create a good first impression.
One does not get a second chance to create a first impression. Everyone gets just a single chance and they have to make the best out of it. If you spoil your chance, you will have to work very hard and for a very long time to reconstruct your image. However, if you hit the bull’s eye in your first chance, it is quite likely that you will still be forgiven if you mess up once or twice. In Professional and/or Personal life, a good first impression can open the doors to so many other good things.
THE ADVERSARIES’ VIEWPOINT
During the course of our discussion in this forum, we’ve seen that the viewpoint of this slogan’s adversaries is also equally strong and well justified.
They say that you should never judge a book by its cover, and, especially regarding people, it’s true.In this case, the “cover” is not necessarily meaning the appearance, but the first impression of another person.Like the cover of a book, first impressions are not always as appealing as what is really there. It’s not until after you start “reading”, or get to know someone, when you really find out that what you see is not always what you get. There are several factors that can affect the first impression that one receives from another. Differing personality, situations and presentation of a person, make first impressions often the worst means of judging people.
Your first impression of someone may not be accurate because you do not know of the situation they may be in. When seeing or meeting someone new, you have no idea the kind of day, difficulties or kind of disappointments that person may be experiencing. They may have had a rough morning, may have recently lost some dear one, or could be somewhere new and yet still have to deal with the routines and stresses of going through out their day. All of these situations can create a barrier between themselves and others, and setting off a good impression is probably not at the top of their list of important things to do.
Again, the way someone presents themselves doesn’t always showcase their true personality and show who they are. Unfortunately one’s presentation is the first thing that others see, and the first thing that people are judged on. Some people look and dress a certain way either because they want to, or because they have to, based on their financial situation or to fulfill some type of professional obligation.
There are many factors that lead to someone’s first impression of another. Someone’s personality, current situation, or the way they happen to present themselves all influence the way someone thinks about a another when seeing or meeting them for the first time. Since what they think is based on these judgments, their first impression is usually wrong. If all Friendships were based upon first impressions, there would be a lot less of them in the world. First impressions are often the worst means of judging a person because it’s not until you get to really know a person, you are better equipped to understand what kind of person they truly are, and really know the individual based on real values, rather than their first impression, or “book cover”.
MY PERSONAL VIEWPOINT:-
I AM AN ARDENT ADVOCATE OF BOTH OF THESE VIEWPOINTS IN SOME WAYS but, HONESTLY, MY COMPASS IS A BIT MORE DRIVEN TOWARDS ITS ADVERSARIES.
Undoubtedly, we live in an era where competition is not only high, it is cut throat. If we want to get ahead in our corporate professional life, we will have to present ourselves as nothing but the very best. A good first impression will bring us out in the eyes of the top most important people and from there, we can work our way to the top through hard work and labor. The first impression will help us in establishing ourselves as someone who can be trusted and is worthy of attention.
BUT, It's not possible to decide just in a couple of encounters how a person really is. We may come across a person who may not be in his best humor/right frame of mind that particular day, maybe because something has annoyed him/her or made him/her nervous, etc. Some folks don't open up and mingle all of a sudden; they take time to get comfortable with others. Then there are some who hide their true personalities under a mask and often portray themselves as something they are not in reality; maybe because being themselves will make them vulnerable or reveal their unpleasant/'not-so-good' side. Others are just not gregarious and sociable – the 'shy' types basically.
EXAMPLE FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ELUCIDATING THE PIONT AS TO WHY ONE SHOULDN’T BE JUDGED ON THE BASIS OF HIS/HER FIRST IMPRESSION:-
I launched an Academy for three years; hired brilliant employees (Teachers). Normally, the candidates are in their best attire during an interview, but I came to interview a potential female candidate, who was in the roughest attire of all, was at her wits’ end with tears in her eyes. Literally there was no chance of her getting selected for the applied post, but during the interview, I figured out that she was much more competent as compared to other potential candidates who were fantastically dressed up and obviously looking much more confident to leave a good first impression on anyone, including me obviously. After having gone through all the candidates’ positive and negative points for that specific subject, even to her surprise, I appointed her and, believe me, she proved to be a real gem for the Academy and became the apple of every student’s eye. She surpassed all her contemporaries when the Board results showed up and, in her relative subject, the academy students showed splendid results.
I don't feel it's right to judge a person based on what we conclude just after one or two meetings with them. Unless we know a person deeply, thoroughly and truly, we should not let ourselves be influenced by any kind of prejudice or conviction. The longer we know someone, the more opportunities we have to change our perception of that person (and vice versa). However, if the first impression is a particularly unpleasant one,it is extremely difficult to completely erase that impression. It is rather like putting our footprint or handprint in wet cement. After the cement is dry, we aren't likely to smooth the edges or change the shape of those imprints.
I think if anyone goes by the premise that the first is the last, then the person is limiting the process of getting to know humans, as complex as we are. If we examine the thought process of discrimination, it is primarily based on first impressions. It seems that there should be some level of social reconfiguration of understanding how our first impressions are always going to be there, but ensuring that a process of reflection to make sure that our first impressions do not constitute the whole of judgment on a person is a critical piece that should be undertaken by as many as possible.
The crux of all this discussion is: First Impression isnot alwaysan accurate reflection of how a person is; Times change and so do people. So, I CAN’T SAY THAT ‘THE FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE LAST IMPRESSION’, instead I WOULD LIKE TO SAY IT ‘THE LONG-LASTING IMPRESSION’.