According to research, people generally make a judgement on you in less than 7 seconds.
For the majority of interactions you may not care what they think, but with certain individuals, making a good impression is very important.
So how do you ensure that you get the most out of those 7 seconds?
Well here are my top tips for building rapport with strangers:
Get the basics right. Smile and make eye contact. 48% of people feel that a smile is the most memorable feature after meeting someone.
Use confident body language. Your body language should be open and taking up as much space as possible. Looking confident even if you don’t feel it inside, tricks your mind into feeling confident
Be positive. You might be feeling nervous or having a tough time but if you pass that negative feeling onto others they can be drained and form a negative impression. Every situation has a learning opportunity and having an upbeat attitude really helps rapport
Listen actively and be present. Too often we think we’re listening and focusing on the other person but actually, we’re away in our own heads. Keep your focus on the other person, stay present in the moment and really listen
Mirror or match. This is a way of nonverbally saying “I have something in common with you”. Use your body language to copy what the other person is doing e.g. cross legs or folding arms (matching). Or do the opposite (mirroring) e.g. they put their left hand under their chin and you do your right hand. Make sure you do it subtly not overtly.
Whether a 1st impression can be changed or not is something disputed by researchers. However, it has been shown that the more important a relationship is to us, the more open we are to gradually reform our 1st impression.
So even if you missed your chance in the first 7 seconds. If it’s important to you, you’ll have many more seconds to try again.