Making a great first impression is something that doesn't come easily to everyone. Sure, there are people out there who can confidently walk up, start a conversation, and charm everyone around them instantly — but typically, first impressions can be awkward and a little misleading. They are also intimidating. You want people to like you right away, whether you're trying to land your dream job or you're just going on a promising date. Luckily, there are some unexpected psychological tips that will help you make a great impression on anyone you meet.
First impressions are just as important as you think they are. Research has shown that it takes barely one second for others to base an impression off of someone when they first meet them; additionally, studies have also found that first impressions are so powerful that they can override other positive impressions. People will usually stick to what they first thought about someone, even if other meetings afterwards were better. That can be kind of nerve-wracking to think about.
We already know the basics of what we're supposed to do to when we first meet someone: smile, act friendly and polite, maintain eye contact, stay positive, and keep open body language in mind. But there are a few other tricks you can have up your sleeve as well, things that will make someone like you on a sub-conscious level. There's no harm in testing them out — hey, they're scientifically proven to work!
1. Copy The Person You're Talking To
If you want someone to instantly like you, try subtly mimicking what they do. Researchers studied this, known as the "chameleon effect," back in 1999, and found that participants were more likely to say they liked someone if that person had been copying them. Don't do this in a bold way, of course — just carefully copy some of their body language, gestures, and facial expressions. It will help them feel more comfortable around you and it could also help them trust you more.
2. Let Them Talk More Than You
Even people who are naturally quiet and shy like the opportunity to talk about themselves to someone who seems interested — science has shown this many times. So instead of talking about yourself or talking a lot, try to let the other person handle more of the conversation. Ask them questions about themselves, but mainly, just show them that you're listening. Don't glance at your phone, don't let your eyes flit around to other people in the room, don't get distracted by something else. Focusing on them is flattering, and they'll like you without even realizing why.
3. In Business Settings, Start By Asking A Question
Speaking of letting the other person talk more, you might also want to let them talk first. Doing so is a sign of respect and also makes them feel like they have the upper hand — both good things. This is also a way of establishing trust, which is incredibly important in a first impression. As social psychologist Amy Cuddy told Wired, "You can do this by simply asking them a question. I think people make the mistake, especially in business settings, of thinking that everything is negotiation. They think, 'I better get the floor first so that I can be in charge of what happens.' The problem with this is that you don't make the other person feel warmth toward you. Warmth is really about making the other person feel understood. They want to know that you understand them. And doing that is incredibly disarming."
4. Reveal Your Own Flaws
You would think that, when meeting someone for the first time, you would want to come off as "perfect" as possible. That's not exactly true — in fact, you might want to go out of your way to reveal a flaw, or at least be a little self-deprecating. One study found that people will like you more after you make a mistake — as long as they already think you're a competent person. So, once you've shown that you're smart or competent, you can then feel free to make a mistake or talk about a flaw you have. It's endearing!
5. Always Be Around
When you're first getting to know someone, you might assume that you don't want to overwhelm them by constantly showing up. Actually, though, this might make them like you more. Psychologists have found that people are more likely to like someone they see often over someone they hardly ever see. Don't start stalking them, but always say hi when you see them, and show up at the spots you're most likely to be around them.
6. Compliment Other People
You already know that compliments are one way to win someone's heart. But it's not just about complimenting the person you're trying to make a good impression on — it's also about compliments in general. Talking nicely about someone else in the room or someone else you both know makes you look good. The person you're talking to will actually start associating those compliments with you. So, avoid gossip and stick with nice words only.
7. Tell Them A Secret
Disclosing too much information when you first meet someone can be overkill, but filling them in on one little secret can be just right. Research has shown that personal conversations and tidbits can leave strangers feeling closer than if they just chatted about, say, the weather. You don't need to expose your deepest, darkest secrets, but you can let them in on something small — or at least broach discussions that are a little more intense than standard small talk.
8. Keep A Positive Tone When You Can
It makes sense that being positive is better than being negative when it comes to good first impressions. This also extends to your tone. Studies have found that trustworthiness and likeability are all linked to the way someone says something. Even just one word can be enough for someone to make a snap judgment of you.
9. Emphasize Similarities
If you meet someone for the first time and you notice some similarities, definitely point them out. Research has shown that people like those who have similar values to them. Don't be fake about it — it's always better to be genuine when first meet someone — but do try to find things you both have in common so that you can bond about them.
10. Be Vulnerable
If you act closed off, shy, and too mysterious, people are probably going to be turned off. It's better to act more open and vulnerable, according to research. Psychology Today says, "It is really about the ability to share your emotional life with others. Emotional openness, of course, comes with risks that involve making yourself vulnerable and not knowing whether this emotional exposure will be accepted and reciprocated or rejected and deflected."