The most important secret to first impressions

My job involves interacting with thousands of people every year. Whether it is at a workshop or a conference which I am giving or attending, I am introduced to many different types of people in many different countries in a variety of different contexts. In terms of first impressions, one important quality which stands out for me instantly and determines how much I feel I will get on with the other person is how interested they are in me.

Now that might seem desperate or narcissistic on the surface but let me explain. Recently at a business event I attended I got chatting to a man in his fifties. We spoke for about twenty-five minutes. He told me many different stories about himself and let me know his opinion on a whole host of subjects. Not once did he ask anything about me. I’ve experienced this from time to time in various business settings as well as social settings such as parties and even dates. Instantly, my perception of the other person was affected by the impression that they did not seem to be interested in anything to do with me.

When I meet someone for the first time, I usually ask far more questions than talk about myself. Quite frankly, I talk enough for a living so I prefer listening to others speak about themselves. I do try and share information too but when I’m not asked for any, I can’t help but think that it will be difficult to build a relationship with the other person.

Of course, there are strategies that you can use and things I have done to build great working and even social relationships with people who never ask me any questions but when I meet someone for the first time who does seem interested in me it makes them so much more interesting to me. It amazes me how many people seem to lack the self-awareness that they are dominating the conversation. I’ve experienced this with both men and women.

We like when other people like us. Complimenting people and giving people gifts are two strategies people often use to get someone else to like them. These can work but can be perceived as deliberate or hiding an agenda. Something far easier to implement straightaway is simply asking the other person questions and being genuinely interested in them.

People are fascinating. Even someone who does something that we have no interest in, they will always have interesting things about them. The more you can learn about others, the more you will understand how to best communicate or influence them. It will provide you with a wonderful insight into them and their personality and background as well as simultaneously showing you to be interested in them.

First impressions matter. So, when you meet someone for the first time, make sure that they are talking at least as much as you. Ask them questions and be interested in them. It will have a huge impact upon how they perceive you. It really is the most important aspect of a quality first impression.


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