9 Ways to Nail a First Impression (No Weather-Related Small Talk Necessary)

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Making a good first impression is kind of like baking a cake. Carefully measure of all the ingredients and you wind up with a flawless confection. Not enough baking powder, however, and the whole thing collapses. The same goes for saying hello to someone for the first time.

A 2006 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that it only takes one-tenth of a second for people to begin formulating their opinion of you. Not to pile on the pressure, but (geez!) that means that each and every one of us only gets the briefest of windows to "be ourselves." So to help you make the most of it, we tapped life coach and author of What If It Does Work Out? Susie Moore. Below, she shares her favorite tips for stealing hears in .10 seconds.

Follow these 9 tips to make a #flawless first impression every single time.

first impressions
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1. Smile (you know, if you feel like it)

I refuse to tell anyone, particularly those who identify as women, that they need to smile more. However, Moore's words do ring true in the current societal structures that we all call home. "Smiling is the most natural beauty boosting makeup," she says.

A survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that nearly half of American adults named a smile as a new acquaintance's most memorable feature. What's more, they listed is as more important than the first thing someone says. So, if you're feeling friendly and willing to give someone a grin, go right ahead. Ma

2. Roll your shoulders back and tilt your chin up

This may seem obvious one, but adopting a confident posture can majorly move the needle toward making a stellar first impression. Before you stroll into a room full of people who've yet to meet you, make sure your spine says, "Hello! Like me! I'm great!"

3. Use the correct kind of flattery

Psychology says that the type and amount of flattery peppered into an initial conversation with a stranger can make (or break) a relationship. According to a phenomena known as spontaneous trait transference (STT), the way we characterize others will often be turned back on us, reports Psychology Today. If you're making small talk with someone new and compliment a mutual friend's sense of humor, for example, they're more likely to consider you a regular Ellen Degeneres. To boot, later research also found that we come to associate that attribute with a more general conclusion about someone. You're obviously witty and smart because you make jokes like Ellen Degeneres. 

"Whatever you say about other people influences how people see you."

STT is a double-edged sword, however. You can accidentally transfer bad traits onto yourself as well. So, save the trash talk for later.

4. Be on time

"Apologizing for being late means you enter any situation on your back foot," says Moore. Think about it: You likely don't enjoy feeling temporarily stood up. The same goes for the person you're meeting. If you show up at 12:15 when your coffee date was set for noon sharp, your one-tenth of a second stopwatch may have already screwed you over.

"Apologizing for being late means you enter any situation on your back foot." —Susie Moore, life coach

5. Feel good about your appearance

Feeling satisfied with your OOTD and overall aesthetic will, once again, help you exude that "I know who I am"-vibe that draws people like moths to flame. For you, that may mean getting your nails done, French braiding your hair, or wearing a bold red lip. If you're looking for inspiration for your next look, check out what 14 very different people sport on days they wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

6. Make eye contact

The importance of eye contact is indoctrinated to most of from a very early age ("1, 2, 3—eyes on me!"—remember that?). Get this: A study that recorded the brain activity of four-month year old babies found that they better processed faces that looked directly at them than those they saw in profile. Research also suggests that humans are more likely to remember people who meet their gaze.

Go ahead—look deep into those irises.

7. Be curious and inquisitive

"Ask questions! People love talking about themselves. Encourage them to open up with light small talk," says Moore. I mean... she's not wrong. "How are you?" and "So, what do you do for a living?" can feel lamer than lame after awhile. So think outside the box before you talk (blandly) about the weather.

8. Offer a sincere compliment

"Oh my god, I love your shoes!", goes a long way says the life coach.  Research suggests that a nice (heartfelt!) ego stroke can create more positive relationships and boost overall happiness. Plus, it gives you an opp to ask follow-up questions about where they shop. Small talk—check.

9. Don't touch your phone

Placing a smartphone between yourself and your new acquaintance will NOT set you up for success. If you're heading into an important meeting where you'll be shaking a room of new hands, turn your phone on airplane mode and practice being wireless for the next hour or so.

This post was originally published on April 22, 2019. Updated on September 23, 2019.

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