Miss Debrett on... Good Impressions
Your first encounter with anyone involves
lightning-fast sifting of a battery of first
impressions. These will range from the
obvious - appearance, voice, handshake,
eye contact - to the subtle and barely
acknowledged - deportment, body
language, facial expressions. But you
can be sure that, just as you make
hundreds of these judgements
every day, so you yourself
are being assessed and
judged. So ensure that you
are not found wanting.
The signs of creepiness are indisputable and universally acknowledged: standing too close, touching strangers too frequently, inability to make eye contact, sweaty and limp handshakes, lack of facial expressions. But conversely, over-compensation can be equally unsettling; over-exaggerated facial reactions, laser-like eye contact and vigorous hand-pumping will only disconcert.
As in all things, the middle way is the best. You should never look as if you are trying too hard, but should aim for an air of relaxed ease. Listen carefully, even if your companion is an out-and-out bore, don't interrupt, and maintain an air of interest. Never let your eyes drift to more interesting people/conversations/objects - even if anything, including inanimate objects, seems more riveting than your current conversation.
Keep your distance, don't intrude into personal space, don't touch (unless you're flirting). Keep your facial expression reasonably animated and, unless the subject matter is deadly serious, try and keep smiling. Stand up straight, no slouching.
Above all, eliminate all signs of self-consciousness. Looking as if you're hyper-aware of the impression you're making (whether it's good or bad) is the worst mistake of all…
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Never look as if you're trying too hard, but aim for an air of relaxed ease.
- Listen carefully, don't interrupt and maintain an air of interest - never let your eyes wander to more enticing prospects.
- Keep your distance, and don't touch (unless you're flirting).