It's fascinating to feel so impacted by someone you met for only a short amount of time. What is it about these people that leave us feeling so touched and inspired? If you want to be more like them, it's time to start paying attention to the ways you can leave a significant, positive impression on others. It might not come as naturally to you as it does to other people, but with a few little tweaks, you can leave others feeling confident, calm, and content in your presence.
"Your impression on others matters because it sets the terms of how people will interact with you," says clinical counselor Calvin Black MA, RCC over email. "We all have had certain people in our lives that have made an initial bad impression. We then respond to that person in upcoming encounters with resistance and defensiveness because of a lack of trust. Our impression matters because it establishes trust with others."
When it comes to making impressions, people make snap judgments without realizing what they're picking up on, so knowing what makes people feel good or bad can help you influence people both consciously and subconsciously. Here are nine helpful ways to leave a powerful, good impression on anyone you meet.
1. Focus On Your Body Language
Body language is important, as it sends out nonverbal cues: smile, look the person in the eye, incorporate touch when appropriate. "Do you appear confident and approachable or nervous and awkward?" says life coach Melissa Snow over email. "Even if you don't feel confident, fake it 'til you make it."
2. Be An Active Listener
"One of the most important ways to make a good impression is by listening and reflecting back what you have heard," says Black. "Don't just stay quiet when someone is talking. Show your interest by engaging in the things they are saying, focusing on them and not yourself."
3. Ask Meaningful Questions
Part of being a good listener is asking meaningful questions — beyond just asking what they do for a living or about their family tree. "This in turn will make them feel like the experts of their own life, and guess what? People love walking away from a conversation feeling like they were able to teach you something or open your mind in a way that it hadn't been opened before," says life coach and relationship advice columnist Chelsea Leigh Trescott over email.
4. Give A Sincere Compliment
Compliments make others feel good, but they have to be genuine. "People can see right through phony," says Thai-An Truong, LPC, LADC over email. "Listen for something you like about the other person and give them some praise for it. People like to be liked and who doesn't love a genuine compliment?"
5. Be Optimistic
No one likes to be around a Debbie Downer, and positive thinking can help bring out more sunshine in others. "Have a friendly, upbeat attitude, because people are drawn to others who are open, and optimistic, and friendly," says Sue Mandel, Ph.D., LMFT over email.
6. Be Compassionate
Even if you don't always agree with others, showing compassion can go a long way. "Just like you have your struggles and your bad days, others have their's too," says Shirani M. Pathak, LCSW over email. "You never know when your kind and gentle presence makes the difference in helping turn someone's day around."
7. Share Your Experiences
Bonds are formed when you trust and open up to someone else, and one way to do this is to show someone you understand them by talking about your own vulnerable experiences. "Listen to what a person is sharing, and validate their experience by expounding on it," says Trescott. "You can do this by opening up about how you went through a similar event or once felt as they do."
8. Be Present
Someone is never going to feel fully engaged if you're constantly looking down at your cell phone instead of at them. "As I always say, there is a giant warm world out there if people were to simply look two inches up," says relationship expert Rori Sassoon over email. "If your eyes are constantly stuck to your screen, then people will think you have zero interest in anything but whats going on in your Snapchat or Instagram."
9. Find Something You Have In Common
"One of the ways that we can make a good impression is by aligning ourselves with similar qualities of another person," says Black. "If we happen to be wearing the same dress or mention that we like the same music, that can create a positive impression because the person assumes we are more like them."