“This job interview is going great! It should be obvious to my future boss that I’m relaxed; I’ve been calling him by his first name since I walked in the door. I just know he’ll hire me!”
“Is this the same young man who sent in that impressive résumé? There’s no way I can hire him! If this is how he acts before he gets the job, what will he be like afterward?”
Look at the picture, and read the text above. Can you identify three ways in which the job applicant is making a poor impression?
1. The young man’s clothing is too casual for a job interview. 2. His speech (calling the employer by his first name) is overly familiar. 3. His body language conveys a lack of respect.
IMAGINE that you’re tasting a certain food for the very first time. How long does it take for you to figure out if you like it? One bite may be all that’s required to determine whether you’ll ever eat that food again—or even finish the portion that’s in front of you.
Something similar happens when you meet another person for the very first time. In just a moment, you form an impression about that person. And here’s a sobering thought: In the same amount of time, that person forms an impression about you.
Are you looking for a job? a friend? a marriage mate? Your success may depend on the first impression you make. Let’s look at three areas in which you may need to brush up on your social skills so that the impression you leave with others is a good one.
1. How You Look
Fair or unfair, the initial impression people form of you may be based on the first thing they see, your appearance. This aspect of making a favorable first impression is often overlooked. A young woman named Clarissa * says, “It seems that when you go to a restaurant these days, you don’t know whether people will show up in a formal gown or in their pajamas!”
Of course, what you wear should be fitting for the occasion. For example, you wouldn’t wear the same outfit to a job interview as you would wear to the beach! But what if you’re just not sure what’s appropriate? The key is to reflect good sense by avoiding extremes. When in doubt, lean toward the conservative.
REMEMBER THIS! Your dress and grooming may, like an X-ray image, reveal what you are on the inside.
“When I see people at a gathering and they’re dressed outlandishly, I shy away from meeting them. At that point, all I know about them is how they look, and their dress reflects on them badly.”—Diane.
The Bible recommends “well-arranged dress” that shows you have “modesty and soundness of mind.”—1 Timothy 2:9.
Ask yourself: ‘Does what I wear look well-arranged, or am I unkempt? Would a potential employer, friend, or spouse conclude that I lack “soundness of mind” because of the way I dress?’
Suggestion: Get advice from someone you respect for his or her good taste in clothing.
2. What You Say
Your speech reveals whether you are humble or conceited, easygoing or desperate. Keep that in mind if you’re trying to make a good first impression on a member of the opposite sex. “It really irritates me when I’m talking to a young man and all he does is talk about himself,” says a girl named Valerie. “At the other extreme,” she adds, “some boys want to know everything about you right away. That’s overwhelming and makes a girl feel like running in the opposite direction.”
REMEMBER THIS! Your words provide a window through which others can see what you’re truly like—so make sure that the view is a pleasant one!
“When I meet a young man, I like it when he just acts natural. The initial meeting is important. If a boy has to overthink what he’s going to say, chances are he shouldn’t say it.”—Selena.
The Bible says: “You will say the wrong thing if you talk too much—so be sensible and watch what you say.”—Proverbs 10:19, Contemporary English Version.
Ask yourself: ‘How can I strike a balance between talking too much and talking too little? Is there anything about my manner of speech that might shock or offend others?’
Suggestion: Take note of those who seem gifted at holding a conversation. What techniques do they use to keep the conversation going? Could you use a similar method?
3. How You Act
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. For example, if you’re mannerly, your actions “say” that you have respect for others. That’s another tip to keep in mind when you’re ready to look for a marriage mate. “Doing little things, like holding the door open, shows respect,” says a girl named Carrie. “A lot of it is just common courtesy.”
REMEMBER THIS! Your actions are like a billboard that displays your inner qualities. (Proverbs 20:11) What do your actions “advertise” about you?
“I think being a good listener is important. Also, it shows good manners not to interrupt the other person speaking, unless it’s necessary.”—Natalia.
The Bible says: “Treat others just as you want to be treated.”—Luke 6:31, CEV.
Ask yourself: ‘Am I mannerly? Do I show genuine interest in others? Am I reliable? Am I punctual?’
Suggestion: Plan to arrive at appointments at least ten minutes early so that if unexpected circumstances arise, you’ll still be on time. Don’t let the first impression you make be that of a latecomer!
A word of caution: Making a good impression isn’t about putting on a facade, which essentially amounts to deception. (Psalm 26:4) Instead, determine the qualities you want to be known for and then cultivate them from the inside out. (Colossians 3:9, 10) As you do so, remember that you are the creator of your own reputation. By giving due attention to your appearance, speech, and actions, you’ll make a good first impression—one that will last!
^ par. 15 Some names in this article have been changed.