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Tips to Make a Good First Impression

It's important to make a good first impression in so many life circumstances... An interview, the first day at a new job, at the playground, or even during the first day of school for your kiddos... But we've all flubbed and stuttered and messed up once or twice when meeting new people. Perhaps it was poppyseed stuck in your font tooth from your morning bagel? Or a skirt tucked into the pantyhose at the back, revealing more than you ever intended? Or the piece of toilet paper dragging on the bottom of your shoe? It’s all fodder for a stand up comedy act. But a bad impression can even stem from something as simple as terrible listening skills or negative body language. Justin Lavelle, the Chief Communications Officer at, is sharing his top tips to help you make a good impression in 2018.

playground mom friends

Active listening

Is there anything worse than someone who isn’t listening when you’re speaking to them? You can tell from the look on their face that they’re working out what to say next and it will probably have no bearing on what you’ve been saying whatsoever. Or they are thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch. Either way, it doesn’t make a solid first impression.

A great way to make a good first impression is to be engaged. Listening to what the person in front of you is saying and responding to it accordingly. Parrot back some of their words, so that they know that you have heard them and ask them relevant questions, which incites them to keep talking. The thing most people want most in the world is to be heard. If they didn’t, Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t have a leg to stand on as social media platforms.

Body language counts

In the same vein as active listening is body language. We say a lot without saying a word when we meet someone, particularly someone new. The non-verbal cues that the other person picks up from us are just as important as the verbal ones. For example, not shaking hands with someone who offers theirs and if they don’t offer, not offering yours, can be taken as a snub. Having your arms folded across your chest while someone is talking might seem comfortable for you, but to others, it has the appearance of negativity, of a closed mind to what they are saying. It can even appear aggressive.

Facial expressions are part of body language. Some of us have what’s known as ‘resting bitch face’. This is where our normal face looks sad or mad, even when that’s not what we’re feeling at all. If you’ve been told you have that, be aware of it when you’re meeting new people. Make an effort to avoid it.

Good eye contact is another great way to make sure that your first impression is a good one. Eye contact is a positive, engaged reaction to someone else. Looking over their shoulder, at the floor or worse, at some part of their body, is not.

Good conversation starters

The old adage says that you should always stay away from religion and politics. In this day and age, that’s probably more true than it’s ever been before. There are certain topics that should be off limits until you know someone fairly well. Pontificating your views on touchy issues can lead quickly to a negative impression. Assuming things about the person you’re meeting is also fraught. Example? you don’t want to talk about the senior’s discount at the shop you’re standing in front of with someone who MIGHT not be a senior!

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So what’s safe, besides the weather? It’s always safe to ask the other person about themselves. Most people like to talk about something they know a lot about and what better topic is there than oneself? 

#1 tip for first impressions at a social gathering

Compliments are your new best friend. If someone has a handbag you admire, walk up to them and say so. The person you are speaking with will be happy to receive a compliment, albeit indirect, and it’s a good way to begin a conversation. But be genuine: if you are faking it, it will show.

#1 tip for first impressions on the playground

Making new friends as an adult is HARD, particularly breaking into the ‘mommy cliques’ at the playground of your children’s school. Avoid talking about anything related to the school and instead approach a group and ask their opinion on the best place in the neighborhood to get a haircut for Little Timmy. They’ll be more than happy to share their wisdom and you’ve got an in by being open and curious.

#1 tip for first impressions online 

These days, you are just as likely to ‘meet’ someone for the first time in the digital arena as in the real world, so it’s vital that your online image is clean. I’m not referring to your picture or avatar, though these should be suited to the platform (LinkedIN: professional; Facebook: fun but not awkward; Twitter: something more than the egg). Search for yourself regularly on search engines and social media to see what people will find when they look you up, because they will look you up and you don’t want to find embarrassing shots of you knocking back shooters in your underwear as the first link they find.

#1 tip for first impressions in any situation: men vs. women

The thing that men are most impressed by? Eye contact and a good handshake - nothing limp or ‘wet fish’ like. For women? Eye contact as well, plus a genuine smile. So men and women might not be as different as originally thought!


At the end of the day, you have three to five seconds to make a first impression. Make it a good one.

This is not a sponsored post. Tips were provided by

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