First impressions are indeed the best

First impressions are indeed the best

You may be the kind that can handle work meetings with ease and converse smoothly. But there are still some finer aspects that have to be kept in mind while going for a work business interaction. Here’s the sure-fire 10 step-method to make that lasting impression:

Put down on paper

Write down your thoughts. This helps in clearing your mind so that you don’t fumble midway through a sentence while conversing. It also gives you a mental reference point if you get stuck.

Who are they?
Know more about who you are going to meet. With the digital media opening its doors, it’s easy to know their professional map, personal nuggets, hobbies and
preferences. This goes a long way in breaking down the mental barrier that might have an unfavourable impact on a conversation.

Courtesies count
Handshakes speak a lot about you before words have left your lips. It’s a sign of being friendly and accepting of the other person. A simple technique is to outstretch your palm at an angle pointing upwards and clasp the other person’s palm in a firm grip and shake it once and no more.
Maintain eye contact while you do that and break into a warm smile. The other hand must be free of any objects (purse/pen) and stays on the side of your body in a relaxed manner.

Small talk
The first words that accompany the smile and handshake can be non-business like! An ideal chat can be on how the other person has been doing or whether their journey was comfortable (if they have travelled to get there). This is an ice-breaker and helps in warming the path towards the meeting.

Body language
Communication is 7% words (verbal) and 93% body gestures (non-verbal). Of course, content is important too, but the manner in which you convey helps you stand out. Crossing your arms or tapping your feet or keeping your palms together while speaking demonstrates authority, insecurity and a closed attitude. Keep your hands open to signify warmth and a positive mind. Facial gestures are a beautiful add-on to your body movements; so let them work in tandem. Shoulders straight and upright gives you the feeling of being confident about yourself.

The right octave
The tone, pitch and the volume of your voice sings out your state of mind. Are you chirpy, anxious, happy or just in a hurry? Talking too loudly and hurriedly could mean that either the other person is hard of hearing or you are extremely nervous. Too soft a voice could mean you are very unsure. Like we adjust the TV volume, try understanding how you feel and rework on that feeling. Get to a comfortable state of mind before you start a conversation and sound your best!

Stripes & suits
As much as you try to undermine your presence at every meeting, your wardrobe screams out. So comfort dressing goes out of the window and power dressing comes in. A lot is perceived by what you wear. Though it’s important to choose the right outfit that brings out your personality, make sure it suits the occasion and the mood. Choosing the right outfit also helps you in being confident and eases you into a successful conversation.

Don’t pop those eyes as yet
Yes, you are told to maintain constant eye contact while talking to the other person. The only thing you are not told is how you look when you do that. Fishy.

Yes, when overdone, you do end up looking like a robot as the rest of the body remains stiff. Maintain eye contact and manage to use your facial and body gestures to complement the same. And it is totally human to look away once in a while which might suggest that you are recollecting something.

The instant ‘giver’
The job of communication is to get a response from the other person and this happens very instantaneously. The ‘giver’ of feedback is your ally; learn what works and what doesn’t with each of them. If a person is not comfortable with a handshake, don’t pull his hand and squeeze it. A warm smile with the body leaning forward gently is good enough. And not everyone likes talking about their travel tales; change the topic and score a win.

Be ‘you’
You might have role models whom you admire, but what gives you an edge in any meeting is to be comfortable in your own skin. So be ‘you’ and get noticed. The key to perfect responsive communication is observe-learn-adapt-act. As social creatures, we can communicate, but to be able to create an experience for the other person only means that we are masters at our own game!

(The author is founder, Word Weave, Bengaluru )

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