First impressions are mental snapshots you take when you first encounter a person or situation. First impressions include a person’s looks and actions, including general grooming and cleanliness, clothing, voice tone, attitude, body language, and posture. These elements, put together, make up your personal style. First impressions do matter. They matter a lot. When people see you for the first time, what is their first impression of you?
People see you first, hear you second. The first step to making a good first impression is your appearance. When you do not have a nice appearance, you might present an obstacle that blocks your customers from forming a positive first impression. This does not mean you have to sacrifice your personal style to please others, but when you are at work make sure your appearance is fitting for your business. Otherwise you may have to work harder for your customers to get to know the real you.
Wear appropriate clothing for the type of work you do. Wear the type of clothing that fits the personality of your business. If you work in an expensive restaurant, you will dress quite differently than if you work in a fast food restaurant. When in doubt about what type clothing is suitable for your job, always lean toward dressing conservatively. Save your party clothes for parties. Save your torn jeans and old t-shirts for hanging out with friends.
No matter what type of clothes you wear to work, you do not have to spend a fortune on your wardrobe. Wearing well-fitted and appropriate clothes will go a long way toward presenting yourself successfully. It does not matter how much you spend; what matters most is how your clothes fit you and your environment.
Make sure you are groomed. This means your hair and fingernails are clean and neat; your face, body, and teeth are clean; your clothes are clean and pressed; your shoes are polished; your hair is styled; and your overall image is professional. Put all that together, and you present a groomed look.
If you do not have a full-length mirror, buy one. Look in it every day before you leave home.
Maintain a relaxed and open demeanor. You can wear nice clothes, be clean and groomed, yet still convey a negative first impression. Your body language counts as much as your grooming. Whether you present an angry, bored, or friendly demeanor, it shows. Hold your head high, and keep your facial expressions friendly.
Make eye contact when talking with someone. Smile as often as appropriate; smile often. A smile goes a long way, both personally and interpersonally. When you smile, you feel better. When you smile, you make others feel better.
Doing these three things will help your customers begin forming a positive first impression of you, and shows that you care about yourself.