Sometimes, in our eagerness to make a good first impression, we talk too much (and end up boring the other person to death) or show off our accomplishments (and come off looking arrogant instead of accomplished). So what’s the real trick to impressing others? You’d be surprised.
People like to feel affirmed and appreciated. But when we dominate a conversation, either because we’re so nervous that we can’t stop talking or from a bumbling desire to sound witty or successful, we do the complete opposite. They think, ‘He’s so self-obssessed!’ or ‘He’s so boring!’ Try to focus on the other person and ways to make them feel engaged and good about themselves. Don’t know where to start? Ask about her day. (For more life tips, read our article on listening skills.)
Drop the act
We’re not saying that you should talk about your lousy childhood with a business client. However, when you go to a conversation trying to play out a role (‘The Busy CEO’ or ‘The Up and Coming Lawyer’) then the person you’re talking to will also be as stiff and formal. Just be yourself, be human—which can, if the conversation calls for it, mean being honest and vulnerable.
Use names repeatedly
When people hear their name they feel special and (on a subconscious level) affirmed and appreciated. But aside from injecting the other person’s name, ask about the names of their kids or their pets. Then when you contact them via email, show that you were paying attention. If she said her daughter had the flu, say ‘I hope Karen is feeling better!’
Share the credit
Nobody will trust or even want to be with someone who is too self-serving. Don’t exaggerate your contributions or blame others for problems. And while you do want to show your strengths you’ll actually make a better impression if you own up to your weaknesses. Job interviewers roll their eyes at applicants who say their only weakness is that ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I’m too passionate.’ Be humble and admit your flaws, but add that you place equal standards on yourself than you do with others.
Photo from tamrafleming.com