A first impression is essential for effective communications

The cliché is true: “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression.” That applies to both your professional and personal lives. All the psychological studies indicate that once someone has made a first impression of you, it’s very hard to change their mind later. That is why it’s so important to make a fantastic first impression.

At a job, that first impression is vital. If during the first few weeks at a new job you come across as a hard-working model employee that’s the image that will be associated with you. It won’t matter if your behavior changes later and you don’t continue to be that model employee from before. However, if the first impression people get is negative, it doesn’t matter how much you improve; most of your co-workers will always think of you negatively. And that’s exactly how it works in politics. Once a voter has formulated an initial opinion of a candidate it’s very difficult to change it. It doesn’t matter the reasons for
changing it, voters will tend to hear what they want to hear.

That is, you must pay special attention when you have to make an unbeatable first impression.

J.D. Schramm, in his paper “Effective Communication Begins with a First Impression,” goes into detail regarding the importance of this first impression in all facets of our interactions with others.

For example, he mentions that a presentation should never begin with “Good morning, my name is Gary Anderson and I’m managing director at Acme…”

Why? Have you said anything that grabs your listeners’ attention? Did you say anything truly important? No. In reality, you wasted a good opportunity to capture our attention from the onset.

Before starting your presentation, think about something different, original, innovative. Something that will make your audience turn to you and “truly” pay attention. Every year we watch dozens, hundreds of presentations. Do we remember anything special afterwards? Did we see or hear something that stayed with us? In the great majority of cases, the answer is no. And don’t forget that first impressions are not only important in face-to-face meetings, but also over the phone, on videoconferences and even on email. In a job market as difficult as this one, every detail is a clear competitive advantage. Don’t let them go to waste.

And don’t forget that 80% of what you communicate is done through non-verbal corporal language. The importance of your concrete message barely reaches 20%.

Your facial expression, how you carry yourself, your eye contact, your open or defensive physical gestures, your tone of voice. Those factors make up the most important part of your message. If what you say matches your non-verbal body language,
your message will be accepted as truthful. However, if your words say one thing and your body language another, your message will be rejected as incoherent and unauthentic.

There are many factors that have a bearing on whether a message is perceived as truthful or false. How we express ourselves, what we wear, how we communicate with our bodies are of utmost importance. For better or worse, many people do judge a book by its cover.

Pablo Gato

CEO, Gato Communications

For more information about Effective Communication, visit us at www.gatocommunications.com

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