Meeting New People and First Impressions

“Hello, nice to meet you.”


“Je suis ravi de faire votre connaissance.”

The list goes on, but these are words traditionally spoken when meeting someone for the first time. Depending on where in the world you are, an accompanying handshake, bow, or something similar accompanies this statement.

Why am I writing about this? I believe that a first impression is everything. I mean, come on, have you ever been on the receiving end of the “limp/dead fish” handshake? The early grabber? The late squeezer? The man or woman that simply holds on for far too long? What about the ones that stares down at the ground or makes seemingly unbreakable eye contact with you? How did you feel afterwards about the person?

Within one-tenth of a second, whether you like it or not, you have made a snap judgement about the person you have just met and have already decided if you like them or not. Within the following minute or so, you form your first impression of this person and you have a “gut feeling” about this person based on what they’re wearing, what they have said, and, of course, how they greeted and met you. Granted, most of us don’t do this to the level that BBC’s “Sherlock” does, but to some degree, we still appraise this newcomer unconsciously.

Most of the time, this gut instinct is right (there’s a great deal of research on this…I’m not going to post all the links). For me, it becomes very difficult to shake that gut feeling. I’m not going to make this entry particularly long, but I do hope that people will be aware of their own actions the next time they meet a new person. Smile, offer a brief but firm handshake (if that is what is culturally correct where you are), and maintain eye contact (again, cultural context dictates the appropriateness of this action).

If you’re not sure what to do in an unfamiliar country, ask or look it up on the internet beforehand so that you don’t offend anyone. Look up the polite “nice to meet you” phrase in that language – with cross-references of course. Even if you don’t bow correctly or  butcher the pronunciation, people appreciate that you’re attempting to embrace their culture and will generally look upon you favorably for this.

Finally, if you’re anything like me, keep your inappropriate jokes to yourself and try not to be too loud…I usually save that until the second meeting or until everyone has had a glass or five of something to drink.

(Photo credit: Realitypod)

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s