Actor Vincent D’Onofrio, said, “It’s pretty simple, pretty obvious: that people’s first impressions of people are really a big mistake.”
I totally agree! If I could start every relationship with a second impression, I would. Nonetheless, here are some helpful reminders.
HOW TO MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Rule #1)- No first-time meeting should take place when you’ve got baggage. Never greet new people unless it’s been a full three months since you cried. Even if it’s menopausal. (Especially if it’s menopausal.)
Rule #2)- Eye contact counts. If you already begun with an epic fail, Abort! I repeat! Abort! Pull out your phone and pretend to be texting.
Rule #3)- Stay positive. This is not difficult if you obeyed Rule #1. But if you haven’t, it’s likely you won’t be having this meeting anyway.
Rule #4)- Three topics seem great for a first meeting. Experience has told me they are all risky:
a)- “That’s an interesting last name; what nationality are you?” — “It’s my step-father’s name. He’s in prison. They told me I can’t give the details.”
b)- “I can’t believe all this rain.” — “Yeah. There’s flooding upstate; my aunt had to move in with my cousins. Now she’s addicted to meth.”
c)- “Isn’t this backyard great?” — “I guess so, if you’re into shabby chic. It’s like somebody stopped somebody on their way into the city dump.”
Rule #5)- If you hear yourself saying, “I just don’t have the energy to get ready; I’m just going like this.” Abort! I repeat! Abort!
Rule #6)- Don’t be late. It’s irritating, and somebody else might show up, doubling your fear and trepidation.
#7)- Be yourself. Dude: they’ll know the truth eventually. Let the chips fall where they may. Avoid audible flatulence. (New readers see D’Onofrio quote, above.)
#8)- Do use good manners. This entails prefacing your meeting with a detailed Google search of every cultural norm in both hemispheres. Better safe than sorry.
#9)- Smile. But carefully: that Mona Lisa thing is a scary weirdness they’ll never forget.
#10)- Don’t forget body language. Nothing says, “Run away!” faster than an inch of varicose-veined ankle peeking above your sock.
#11)- Try small talk. But not too small. And not too lofty. Not too lengthy. Not too brief. Watch your volume. When in worry, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. …Oh, wait: that goes under “Last Impressions.”
#12)- Be confident. As for me, I’m always confident. …that I’m never going to see this person again.
#13)- People love to talk about themselves. Ask questions. You’ll make a great first impression. But you’ll be the one never wanting to do this again…
#14)- Act as if you’re meeting a good friend. Um, well, I personally don’t kiss on the lips. If that’s your practice, you might want to re-think this rule.
#15)- Discuss common interests. But avoid politics, religion, or taxes. And oh yeah, #4: name origins, the weather, or home décor.
#16)- When they make a suggestion that absolutely stinks, don’t say, “That’s a stupid idea!” I don’t know the right answer here, but experience tells me: that is not it.
#17)- Turn off your cell phone. The only people calling are those who have never met you (or they wouldn’t be calling).
#18)- Practice this opening line; it can’t fail. Memorize it. It’s very important. Seriously. Learn it. Here it is: “Hi.”