Are first impressions really all that important? Don’t we all know that to “judge a book by its cover” is superficial and just plain wrong? The reality is, even though we all have many wonderful layers of personality, experience and emotion, someone you’re meeting for the first time is probably going to judge you, and the interaction, at face value. We use the only information we have, which is how someone looked and acted during that one specific interaction. Instinctively, we categorize each person we meet so we know where we stand with them, and know if we can trust them or not. A first impression is even more crucial in certain situations, where we may have something to lose by a negative impression, like a job interview, or dating. And superficial or not, appearances play an enormous role in making that first impression, so making sure you’ve done all that you can to start with the proverbial leg up – is a smart thing to do and is highly recommended. For some of you, these may be completely obvious, but not everyone spends the same amount of energy on their appearances.
First Impression Appearance Reminders
1. Dress for the occasion. Wearing stilettos to a baseball game or wearing shorts to a cocktail party probably won’t help you much. When we dress for the occasion, it means we’ve taken the time to plan what we’re going to wear, making sure we’re comfortable inside and out, and that we have enough respect for our date and ourselves not to stand out like a sore thumb. We’re not advocating removing your individuality, but during a first impression, it’s important not to embarrass yourself or your date by your appearance. If you don’t dress for the occasion, your date might see you as disrespectful, uncaring, or just plain idiotic.
2. Smell nice. Whether you walked five miles in the blazing sun to get to your date, forgot to bring a clean shirt to the office, or ate garlic pasta for lunch, there is absolutely no excuse for having body odour on a date. Carry a travel-sized deodorant stick and some breath-freshener in your purse or briefcase if you are unable to get home before you go out. Smelling bad can be an instant deal-breaker and is NOT something you want to take chances on – you will be judged as having bad personal hygiene, a first impression that will be almost impossible to shake.
3. Remove the animal hair. A lot of us have pets, and are so used to having their hair on everything we own, that we don’t give it a second thought. But imagine what a person must be thinking your house looks like if you’re carrying part of your pet on your clothes! A lint brush will save the day!
4. Clean and groom your fingernails/hands. The hands are a very personal part of our bodies, and they’re our representatives. We shake or hold other people’s hands with them, eat with them, make gestures with them etc. Having them clean and groomed will create the first impression that YOU are clean and groomed.
5. Never wear wrinkled/dirty clothes, or things with holes in them. This should go without saying, as people will think you’re messy, a slob, and generally don’t care what you look like. Taking it one step further, people may have the impression that you don’t care much about anything.
6. Pay attention to the latest fashions and hair styles. We’re in no way advocating you go out and buy all the latest trends, but if you’re wearing clothes older than 5-10 years, it’s probably time for an update. The same goes with hair. Keep it clean, cut and styled. If you have a ponytail in the back from 1967 and no more hair up top – it’s time for a change! Ask for help if you don’t know what to do – otherwise people may see you as stuck in your ways, unadventurous, or just plain clueless.
7. Remember it feels good to look nice. There’s nothing wrong with presenting an attractive, put-together person who feels good in the world – your appearance should reflect how you feel about awesome you!