Your 1st impression isn’t necessarily the one you intend.

A few weeks ago I spoke at a school careers day about the importance of first impressions and the affect our posture has on what others see in us.

I asked the group to freeze and look at the impression that they and those around them were giving and then asked one half of the room to look at the other side and tell me who looked the most confident and why.  Most of them chose a young man sitting upright with his arms unfolded and on his lap.

As they were choosing another student indignantly stated that they were confident and was offended that they hadn’t been selected. They were sitting with their arms folded looking quite defensive.

This led us into a discussion about how you can feel one thing but unwittingly look very different. To show them what I meant I slouched onto my seat with my legs stretched out in front of me and asked them what impression I was making. They all agreed that I looked “lazy”, “like you don’t care”, “rude”, “you can’t be bothered”; I asked if I looked relaxed and if it was possible that I was relaxed because I was confident.

They agreed I did and it was possible. So I could have been sitting in what I considered to be a comfortable position because I was confident but that was absolutely NOT what they saw.

It was a fascinating session as I watched the light dawn on these young people that something as simple as the way they sit or stand can affect how others treat you.

One of the teachers came up to me afterwards and admitted that he should consider his posture more … it’s a lesson we can all do with being reminded of occasionally!

If you would like some top tips about how to make a great 1st impression then have a look at our 6 part video 1st impressions toolbox.