Sharing stories with someone you have never met before can be fun or terrifying depending on how the discussion transpires. Everyone wants to make a positive impression when we meet someone for the first time. We always go into a first meeting with the right intentions. Unfortunately, there are certain things we might do or not do that can put the other person off and create a bad first impression. The good news is that you are probably reading this article because you want to avoid the faux pas of impression management. Be on the lookout for the following signs:
- You are talking without listening
If you are completely dominating the conversation throughout your first interaction with someone, odds are you are leaving a bad first impression. Sometimes, we get nervous when speaking to someone for the first time because we want to say the “right thing”. In our endeavor to say the right thing, we control the conversation and stop listening.
The problem with talking too much during your first interaction is that you give the other person the impression that what you have to say is more important. On the other hand, taking time to listen to the other person shows them that you are interested in what they have to say. You must say what you have to say efficiently and effectively and give the other person time to speak; in essence, finding the right balance between talking and not talking. Keep in mind that a “discussion” is a two-way street and a good conversationalist is a good listener.
- Constantly checking your phone during the conversation
Have you ever thought about the number of times you check your phone during a 24-hour period? According to research by global tech care company Asurion, on average, Americans check their phones 96 times a day. This means that on average, Americans check their phone once every 10 minutes, which probably means that they are checking their phones when they are in social and non-social settings.
Because most people have a phone in their hand for most of the day, it has become the preferred way of communication. The issue that has arisen is that people are still prone to using their phone even when communicating with someone who is physically present (i.e., standing right in front of them). This has become known as “phubbing”, which basically means snubbing someone in favor of your mobile phone. Using your phone when someone is sharing stories with you, is an indirect way of telling the person that you find him or her boring or their message is not important. Unless you are responding to an emergency (in which case you should excuse yourself), you should not be using your phone while having a face-to-face conversation with someone – particularly if it’s your first interaction with the person. Think of this as the ultimate faux pas of impression management.
- You are not looking people in the eye
We already know that eye contact plays a significant role in social interactions, making it all the more important when trying to create a good first impression. Unfortunately, this might be easier said than done, especially when we meet people for the first time.
A first meetup is often tense and uncomfortable, making it more difficult to maintain eye contact. In such situations, you might be tempted to focus more on the floor or the ceiling when the other person is sharing stories. But, this will only make you appear to be uninterested and it will also make the conversation more awkward. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation shows that you are engaged, attentive and interested in what the other person is saying. However, be careful not to maintain eye contact for too long, because extended, continuous eye contact can make the other person nervous. You can practice your eye contact skills with your friends and family members. This will help you be more comfortable when doing it with strangers.
The list presented above is not exhaustive, but these are some of the most common signs that you are making a bad first impression. Being cognizant of and working on these troublesome habits will surely help you make better first impressions.