When meeting somebody new, it takes us just 7 seconds (that’s right, not minutes — seconds!) to decide whether or not we feel positively about that person. Naturally, this works both ways. That’s a lot of pressure, particularly if you are somebody who experiences social anxiety, or you are just naturally on the shy side.
1. The eyes have it.
Eye contact is a universal signifier of social confidence, openness, and honesty. With more than half of all communication being visual and not verbal, looking into a person’s eyes will give you an instant likability boost. Worried about maintaining the right balance between confident and creepy? Keep in mind a 60:40 ratio, and you’re onto a winner.
2. Smile and the world smiles with you.
Accessorize every social encounter with a genuine smile, and meeting new people will seem like a breeze. People like and remember other people based on how they make them feel; smiling triggers endorphins and so naturally associates you in people’s minds with feelings of wellbeing.
3. You had me at hello…
The simplest — and yet most often overlooked — component to successful introductions is the humble greeting. Instead of initiating a conversation mid-way through, which may make people question your sincerity, make an effort to introduce yourself with a straightforward ’hi.’ Say it with a smile, and you’re halfway to social success.
4. Reflect openness.
A lot of signals can be sent in 7 seconds, so make them count and let the person you are meeting know you are open and trustworthy. Try to have relaxed body language: unbutton your jacket, stand up straight, uncross your arms.
5. It’s all in the angles.
The psychology of body language has a fascinating effect on first impressions. Convey your interest in the person with a barely perceptible lean forward whilst they are talking. Imagine they are the only person in the room at that moment, and your sincerity will shine through.
6. Project positivity.
Positivity is contagious, and we would all rather surround ourselves with people who make the world that little bit brighter. So make a conscious effort to avoid negative statements, and the person will remember you for you, not your complaints.
7. Remember that it’s not about you.
A classic mistake that is easy to make when we are nervous is to talk about ourselves. But one of the best ways to make yourself instantly likable is to be genuinely interested in the person standing in front of you: ask thoughtful questions, and actively listen.