Whether it’s in a job interview, generally meeting new people or your first day on the job, making a great first impression can go a long way.
Developing and understanding your emotional intelligence skills is an excellent approach to boosting your personal first impression game.
What exactly is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence – sometimes called EQ – refers to your ability to recognise your emotions and the emotions of others, and to use that information to guide the way you think and act.
How can you use emotional intelligence to make a great first impression?
Below are four tactics that can help you harness the power of emotional intelligence and make a positive impression in any situation- Professional or Personal.
Before you even enter into the situation, take a quick moment to think about how you’re feeling – are you feeling confident and relaxed, or nervous and worried? Pausing for a moment to centre yourself can help you find a more positive and calmer state of mind.
As cliché and cheesy as it may sound, finding a quiet place and doing some breathing exercises before a first meeting can be extremely useful. Taking a few big, deep breaths can be a simple yet extremely effective way to lower stress in the moment. Taking a second to recognise what you’re feeling, and name it, may help you to work through those feelings.
As an example, you might recognise that you are feeling a bit anxious, and tell yourself that it’s because you’re excited about the opportunity, so you’re going to bring that excitement into your interview.
2) Match your energy to the room or person
Good emotional intelligence skills include being able to read and analyse a situation and then adjust your behaviour accordingly to suit. This doesn’t mean changing who you are, rather adjusting your energy levels and body language to match the mood of the room.
For example, if you walk into a formal setting, an overly casual greeting would seem out of place, so as an alternative you might instead opt for a friendly smile, a strong handshake and good eye contact. Equally, walking into an interview room filled with people in casual attire and relaxed postures could mean that a formal approach might send the wrong vibe.
3) It is imperative that you make sure that you focus your attention on the person you’re speaking to directly!
Apart from the obvious point of removing any other distractions in your surroundings, in order for you to properly connect with a new person, it’s important to listen in a way where you are totally present in the moment. That means removing any other distractions – such as a phone – and focus your attention entirely on the person who’s talking to you.
What not to do? Avoid the temptation to paraphrase or interrupt to finish their sentence at any time. It is important to avoid thinking too much about what you’re going to say next while someone is talking – you might miss something important they’ve said, or it may make you seem disinterested.
4) Finding common ground is the key to building rapport.
Discovering and talking about common interests gives the new person you’re meeting the opportunity to talk about something that they enjoy. This means when you walk away from the interaction, they know something personal about you, and you something about them which helps to build a greater connection.
An easy way to find common ground is to ask open questions that show interest beyond the actual purpose of the meeting. Just be mindful of asking too many questions – particularly if the person is not overly receptive from the get-go – as this could put some people off.
The pressure to make a great first impression can be overwhelming, especially if it’s for an interview or your first day in a new job. But putting your emotional intelligence to use can significantly ease this pressure.
In conclusion, next time you need to make a great first impression either personally or professionally, think about reflecting on how you feel, be sure to match the energy of the room, listen carefully at all times and try to identify common ground. These four simple strategies can help you to make that first impression a great and long lasting one – and feel a little more comfortable and confident while you’re at it.