When encountering someone for the first time, we tend to make quick judgments whether we like that person or not. In fact, research has shown that we make relatively accurate evaluations based on rapid observations of even less than half a minute. Neuroscientists at NYU and Harward University have identified the neural systems involved in forming first impressions of others (Nature Neuroscience). The findings show how we encode social information and then evaluate it and that a relevant part of the said evaluations already take place in the first seconds of the process.

In business interactions, first impressions are crucial. Business is without any doubt a matter of trust and confidence. Although people will not necessarily be unanimous in their evaluations (like or dislike), there are some hints to be taken into account to make a positive first impression, as first impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues than verbal cues.

Here are seven nonverbal examples based on Carol Kinsey’s post at Forbes, that you should consider in any encounter (conferences, meetings, training sessions, …):

1. Adjust your attitude to each situation and make a conscious choice about the attitude you want to embody.

2. Straighten your posture to transmit signals of confidence and competence.

3. Smile in order to be perceived as friendly and approachable.

4. Make eye contact, for it transmits energy and it indicates interest and openness.

5. Shake hands, as it is the quickest way to establish rapport.

6. Raise your eyebrows (the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgment).

7. Lean in slightly, to show engagement and interest, respecting however the other person’s space.

Make the most of the opportunities you get. As Carol Kinsey says “you’ve got just seven seconds -but if you handle it well, seven seconds are all you need!”.

Marcel Forns. GEBTA 2013

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