Those first few crucial seconds….

Time is short. In a time when physical meetings are limited to a cup of coffee, first impressions are really important. Did you know that ninety percent of our decisions are based on those first few seconds of our interaction with someone? Author Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Blink” explains our ability to evaluate really important things from a very short period of experience. It is called “thin-slicing”. Studies show that brief observations can be used to assess outcomes, at levels higher than expected by chance. Once comparing these observations of less than five minutes, to greater than five minutes the data showed no significant change, thus implying that observations made within the first few minutes were unchanging. These first few seconds may really score over a very carefully planned scenario backed with a lot of experience!

So how does one give a good first impression? First, Be likeable! Which leads us to the next question, how do we become likeable? One way of doing it is improving our personality and our social skills. Learning to smile, being confident, making eye contact are few of the ways to improving your personality. One though should understand that giving a good first impression is not equivalent to trying to impress someone. Having a good first impression is all about improving ourselves where as when it comes to impressing someone, we may do certain acts just for gaining that person’s approval regardless of whether it improves us or not. When we focus on the things we can control, things often come our way.

The second step involves increasing our knowledge. Your knowledge should go hand in hand with your social skills. Your first impression should instill faith in the person with regards to your ability. Not to forget that having good knowledge also helps our confidence. Planning is the third step. Drafting a pitch which is engaging should be the top most priority. Planning also helps retain our focus as we are aware of what we need to accomplish within the small period of interaction. We may not always have to go by our script. Customizing it depending upon the greeting we receive and the nature of the prospect will only smoothen the interaction.

The final and most important step is simplicity. Malcolm Gladwell talks about “Analysis Paralysis” which results from analysis of a lot of information. Analysis Paralysis leads to confusion and interferes with an individual’s judgment. Only the most critical information should be passed on rather than all the details. The simpler the information, the easier it is for the prospect to understand what you are selling and ultimately help them in taking a positive decision.

Now are we ready to help our prospects take that snap decision?

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