How to Make a Good First Impression (Without Appearing Desperate)

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Whether it’s getting your coffee just the way you like it, turning a first date into a second or wooing new clients at work, making a good first impression is key.

In fact, scientists peg the time it takes to form a first impression at just 100 milliseconds. And body language experts have uncovered first-moment signals that influence how we perceive people over the long-term.

So, how do you make a great first impression without appearing too keen? As psychotherapist Atalanta Beaumont explains, “Humans can work like a wolf pack when in groups, and if they get a sniff of desperation they will either ostracise the perpetrator or target them unkindly.”

One way to avoid getting devoured is to offer a firm, 3-4 second handshake. Researchers at the University of Alabama found that a good handshake signals a positive, outgoing and emotionally expressive character. Mastering the art of the handshake shows confidence and assertiveness, without that awkward “do I, don’t I?” air-kiss moment.

It’s a good idea to ask questions, too. Harvard researchers discovered that talking about the self is inherently pleasurable – so much so that we’re motivated to speak about ourselves more than other topic. Try asking follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing.

And don’t forget to show you’re listening by leaning in – but not too much! Emotional intelligence experts TalentSmart found that 90% of top performers know the unspoken signals of body language, including respecting the personal space “bubble” by not sitting or standing too close to others. Aim to leave 1.5 feet of space; that’s about the length from your elbow to fingertip.

For more proven ways to get on someone’s good side without trying too hard, check out the easy-to-do tips on our infographic.

How to Make a Good First Impression Without Appearing Desperate Infographic


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