First Impressions

Have you ever bumped into a friend that you have not seen in years and the first words uttered from her mouth are, “Please excuse the way I look, I know I look a mess however I usually don’t look this way.  I was just making a quick stop at the store, hoping not to run into anyone and of course I would.” Sound familiar?

What do certain things say about a person?

A dirty house versus a clean house.  A well-kept yard.  A business suit versus a sweat suit.  A man’s close shaved head versus dreads.  A filthy vehicle versus a clean car.  Loud music blaring from a home or car radio.  Visible tattoos.  Facial and body piercings.

It is not always true that the impression people have of you is an accurate reflection of who you really are.  People form impressions about others within the first seven seconds of the initial contact.  It is part of our human nature to quickly assess and draw conclusions about people and situations.  Whether it is fair or unfair, the following is a common listing of some of the things we are judged on:

  • Clothing and overall appearance
  • Hairstyles
  • Speech and communication skills
  • Posture
  • Demeanor
  • Confidence level
  • Dining Decorum
  • A Handshake
  • Tangible items (house, car, jewelry)
  • Profession/Job title

Given that, how you look, speak, carry yourself, and dine, play a major role in others’ perception of you, my advice is to always look and act appropriate for “the occasions.”  Depending on the venue, your self-presentation may be different in various surroundings.  The way you dress and carry yourself is likely to change in business environments versus family settings.  The tendency is that the lighter and fun side of your character will surface more with close friends and family members.

Are you one who can easily transform into someone else? During the day are you the reserved Mr. or Ms. Professional and in the evenings, you become the outgoing and carefree Mr. or Ms. Socialite?  How much of your personal characteristics do you allow others to see?  It is okay to portray a different side of your personality, just keep in mind that you never know who you will run into when you’re totally out of character.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.