“We sometimes try to impress people we just met by not trying to impress them.”
Mokokoma Mokhonoana

As we all know, first impressions are really, really important. Whether for a job interview, working with clients or customers or personal and social relationships, a good first impression can carry us for miles. First impressions can even cover any faux-pas we may make down the road since we have already stamped a positive image of who we are in the other person’s mind. They have been chemically wired to see us in a positive light. It might seem weird to think of initial impressions as having anything to do with chemistry, but the fact is we are organic and emotional creatures, Our actions, our words, and our body language all stimulate emotional (and chemical) responses in the other person.  Our moods affect our hormones and our hormones affect our moods.

Four Quadrants

In their book entitled First impressions: What You don’t Know About How Others See You Dr. Anne Damarais and Dr. Valerie White illustrate, by way of a quadrant, that where we place our focus can impact the impression we leave others with. The quadrant can be described this way:

The top left-hand quadrant is labeled:  How I feel about me

The top right-hand quadrant is labeled:  How you feel about me

The bottom left-hand quadrant is labeled: How I feel about you

The bottom right-hand quadrant is labeled: How you feel about you.

Even without the visual mini-matrix, we can clearly see that each quadrant has a different focus. The two on the top focus inwardly and the two on the bottom focus outwardly.


You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and yours may be in the hands of the receptionist. – Harvey Mackay


The First Quadrant

The book First Impressions shows that focusing on the top two quadrants, that is to say, focusing on ourselves, will always create a negative impression in other people”s minds. In the first case, we are more or less self-conscious or anxious. We are too tied up in ourselves to be able to focus on anything else. In a job interview, for example, this person might be wondering if he is prepared enough or has the right skills. He may be focused on his words and whether or not he is dressed right.

The Second Quadrant

In the second case, we are worried about what others think of us and we do or say things in order to please. We are definitely not being our genuine selves. We might come across as “too” nice or overly enthusiastic, and unnaturally so. In fact, our overcompensation for our insecurity can come across to the other person as phony and we definitely do not want to leave people with that impression.

In both cases, our insecurity will be noticed. Our verbiage, our actions, and our body language will all betray us. So focusing on ourselves whether our self-consciousness or to try to make a good impression will do just the opposite.

The Third Quadrant

The third category is an outward focus, but also a rather critical focus. This approach looks at the other person and analyzes them. Do they measure up? What kind of person are they? Can I trust them? Do they seem open or genuine? When our focus is on how we feel about the other person, we are trying to make some kind of judgment about who they are. Once again, others can sense this and will be turned off because no one wants to feel judged.

The Fourth Quadrant


It is in the fourth quadrant that great impressions are formed.  The focus in this quadrant is on “How you feel about yourself”. This quadrant is the Power Quadrant.  Why is this? Because we are putting all of our focus on and interest in the other person. We are asking questions to learn more about them, not to impress, but to genuinely get to know them. We will definitely make a good impression with people when we focus on them, asking questions such as “what do you enjoy”? “How did you get started…”? Could you tell me about..”?

So, whether you are in a job interview or starting your first day on the job, whether you are meeting your in-laws for the first time or meeting your significant other, whatever new situation you are in, focusing on getting to know the other person, being interested in them will always be the best way to make a good impression.

Now that we have covered the meat and potatoes of how to make a great first impression, let”s look at some specific ways to apply this information. At first, it may feel uncomfortable to be other-focused since our natural inclination is to focus on ourselves. But maybe some of the following ideas will help you out. They are simple, but they also need to be put into practice in order for them to work.


First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. – Elliot Abrams


6 Tips

1. Smile

Yes, it is that simple. A smile is a universal symbol of friendship. Some of us, for various reasons, are not always comfortable with smiling. But why not try it – all the time – and see what happens.

2. Eye Contact

Unlike animals, people actually appreciate being looked at; it shows that a person is interested in them. Look at people with friendly eyes, but don’t be cheesy or creepy about it.

3. Be Courteous

Yes, courtesy is still in fashion and always will be. Listen more than you speak and ask pertinent questions to get to know them. Don’t hog the conversation or have a bad attitude about you or them. And, of course, give them your full attention.

4.  Be generous

Be generous with your time and with your attention.  Make others the priority when you are with them. Don’t give them snippets of your time or put them on your schedule. Give more time than you receive. Offer to help out. There are so many ways you can show generosity.

5. Turn the spotlight on them

Shift the light to shine on them. Let them be the star of the moment. Show appreciation and interest, but always in a genuine way.

6. Be responsible and on time

Showing responsibility and respecting other people’s time is huge in showing that you appreciate them. It shows that you are considerate of others. Even if you are that last-minute type of person, maybe it is time to make some changes in how you do things.


  • Focus on the other person by being genuinely interested in them.
  • Do not focus on yourself – it will never get you anywhere
  • Smile
  • Be courteous
  • Be on time
  • Be responsible


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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, and the pursuit of a debt-free life. She loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca