9/2/21: A three-part system for creating good first impressions

Sent 09/02/21


  • Elite pole vaulter Austin Miller posted a review of Make the Leap. I wrote a post sharing both the review and the surprise twist I never saw coming when I wrote the book!
  • 16 year-old Paralympic jumper Ezra Frech finished 8th in the long jump and 5th in the high jump in Tokyo. Hear our inspiring conversation with him - he's going to be a big name in adaptive sports over the coming years!
  • My friend and wizard Nadine made me some graphics for my team packages. They're amazing. I posted one at the bottom for you to check out! (She also made me a new graphic on the home page.)

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about how to strategically create a good first impression. 

The Idea

As I mentioned last week, I just started a new job, and so many aspects of the experience parallel joining a new running team or trying a new experience.

The job I'm doing is new to me, but I've worked in a related field, so I know the terminology and some of the problems I expect to be solving. That helps me to feel prepared, but it still doesn't remove all of the impostor syndrome (as I wrote last week).

I couldn't prepare much for the job itself. The only thing I could prepare for is trying to make a good first impression. And I do believe this is important. Everyone you meet not only makes a snap judgment about you the first time they see you (in as little as 30 seconds), they spend much of their initial time with you creating the "first impression" that will define their future expectations.

There's not that much you can do to solve the "snap judgment" problem. I try to be appropriately dressed and have a smile, but I don't put any more energy into it. People's snap judgments are more about their history and experiences than you. They will be what they will be.

Their larger first impression is 90% how they feel after meeting you. For this, I have three guiding rules.

  1. Be excited
  2. Be curious
  3. Be complimentary

Being excited is about bringing positive energy into the interaction. Whether your coworker, classmate or teammate has a lifelong passion for what they do or is burnt out and miserable, your excitement will lift them up. 

Being curious doesn't require you to ask tons of questions. One trick I use is simply to say, "I have so many questions. But we'll get to those as we go." People like answering questions about what they do, especially when they have unique expertise. Show interest.

Being complimentary is about recognizing the positive in someone else. That can be anything from their experience or education ("You must have worked hard to get in there.") to the time they spent meeting you ("You really made me feel welcome," or "Thanks for walking me through that.") 

It's ok to be nervous, to be ignorant, or to be quiet. People expect that, and won't hold it against you. What they are looking for is how you engage.

And I will go one step further: these rules also help us to have a good first impressions of other people or activities.

The System

We can influence not just how other people think of us, but also how we think of other people or activities. By applying the same simple approach.

The new person we just met. The first time we run a course. The first time we do a workout. The first time we eat at a restaurant. The first time we play a board game.

We can prepare to make these experiences better by following the same rules: be excited, be curious, and be complimentary.

Be excited: show up with a positive attitude. I have one friend who watches comedies excited to laugh and have a good time. I have another who watches them with a "I bet this won't make me laugh" attitude. The first enjoys many of the movies he watches; the other doesn't. The same goes for people.

Be curious: have a plan to learn or experience something new. This not only guarantees you will take something from the experience, but it primes you to do a little research and get yourself in position to benefit.

Be complimentary: focus on the positives over the negatives, the effort made over the result (where you can). Not everything is great, not everything is terrible, and nothing is perfect. Find the positives and build on them. Be thankful for what was designed well or went well.

We have a lot of influence over how others think of us. But we have just as much influence over how we think of others.

The Question

What is your system for creating better first impressions? 

And...The New Team Package Graphic!

Make the Leap Team Package - Print 

Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

"Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions... by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions." — Malcolm Gladwell



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