Use the power of the first impression!

When you meet someone, it takes that person ten to 180 seconds to decide what he/she thinks of you using a series of three phases:

  1. The person standing across from you quickly develops a gut feeling about you, for example, positive or negative, friend or foe, all based on your appearance, posture and behavior.
  2. The person is now already biased and everything you do afterwards that stands out will either be judged as positive or negative.
  3. They form an image of your entire personality by attributing certain characteristics to you which you may have not necessarily shown, but which seem to be plausible to them based on the first impression. This includes features such as intelligence, competence, social status, superiority, etc.

The first impression usually persists. When you’ve been mentally “labelled” as something, it’s not a quick task for you to loose this image. That’s why it’s important to make a good impression in the first three minutes of meeting a contact. The better you succeed at fulfilling the positive expectations of your opponent, the better you’ll be at asserting yourself.

Influential factor: Clothing

Your clothing immediately catches one’s eye. As a result, your clothing has a significant impact on the first impression. Others draw conclusions about your status, your personality, your skills, etc. based on what you wear. It is important to act reputably and in a qualified manner in your professional environment and to adapt to (fit into) the environment in which you move.

When it comes to the appropriate clothes, it wise to orientate yourself on the expectations placed on you in your role. At the same time, you should make sure to find a compromise of what you like yourself. Otherwise the clothes won’t have a genuine effect.

Men’s clothes checklist:

  • Suit in muted colors, high fabric quality, casual, leg seams starts at front on the shoe and ends at the back of the mid-heel and top of the heel (depending on the hem width); lowermost button always remains open in the case single-breasted suit and vest
  • White or subtle-colored shirt, discreet pattern
  • High-quality, well-maintained shoes, preferably black
  • Solid-colored socks matching pants or shoes, long enough that no skin shows
  • Belt matching the shoe color, classic patterned tie

Please note: 

  • Use aftershave sparingly!
  • Wrinkles, stains, frayed clothing and unkempt hair are unacceptable!
  • Refrain from conspicuously placed designer names!

Influential factor: Greeting

The welcome ritual is how you establish personal contact. Two things are important here: (1) body language and (2) mastering the rules of etiquette when greeting someone.

Body language checklist:

  • Make eye contact.
  • Flash a friendly smile to your conversation partner.
  • Stand upright without looking down at the other person.
  • Keep a respectful distance; two forearm lengths away as a rule of thumb
  • Pay attention to your handshake, not too strong and not too weak, somewhere in the middle.
  • Base the length of your handshake on your opponent. If he/she lets loose, then you also do the same.

Influential factor: Etiquette

Etiquette is required when making a personal introduction. Make sure to pay attention to the order or priority! A difference is generally drawn between low-ranking and high-ranking individuals. One’s profession plays a crucial factor in the work environment, no matter the age and gender of the person.

The higher ranked individual finds out first who he/she is dealing with. For that reason, the lower-ranking individual gives his/her name first and then waits for the other person to give their name and then extends their hand. Please note: The higher-ranking individual decides if he/she wants to shake hands or would rather keep his/her distance. 

One more small tip: Address the others repeatedly using their names in small talk, that will improve his/her impression of you and make you appear friendly at the same time.

Order of priority checklist:




Social environment

Ma’am, significantly older

Mister, significantly younger

Business environment

Management, client

Employee, supplier

In the case of invitations



 Introduced by third parties

In this case also the lower-ranked individual is introduced first to the higher-ranked individual: “Mr. Boss” I’d like to introduce “Ms. New” to you who has taken over responsibility for the Service team. “Ms. New” this is our Head of Sales “Mr. Boss”.

The person who introduces the individuals can use open palms to point to each of the persons mentioned, never with the finger! Who’s introduced, usually just answers with “Good day” or “Good evening”.

Proper address

 Always make sure to mention a professor or doctor title when introducing someone. Name the highest title in the case of multiple titles. This title does not apply to spouses. If someone who bears a title introduces themselves, then they are to mention this title. Usually those who have a title avoid mentioning their titles when among other title-bearers.

If you want to do something to leave behind a dazzling first impression, then please contact me. As always, I’d be happy to help you!