What’s the First Thing You Notice When Meeting Someone New?

PR People Awards Luncheon Program Guide 2014

impressionDepending on which statistics you choose to believe, you may have as little as 7 seconds to make a good first impression. It's basic human nature—ingrained in us from birth—to make decisions about strangers the moment we encounter them. It happens whether we like it or not.

In a business setting, this short window of time is crucial. An errant splotch of ketchup from lunch on your shirt can spell disaster, while a firm handshake will tell your new acquaintance that you're in control. Knowing what people first notice about you can mean the difference between success and failure.

With this in mind, we queried our Twitter audience, asking what they notice first when encountering someone new in a professional setting. Here are some of the best responses:

  • "Facial expressions. You can tell a lot by a person's initial reaction to the environment around them." - Amanda Brennan, ‏@AMB0903
  • "Their attire—if it is appropriate for the occasion or not." - Kelsey Layne Tucker, ‏@monogrammedprep
  • "How they communicate non-verbally. It says so much about themselves and their organization." - Heather Holm, ‏@heathermholm
  • "Shoes, always the shoes." - Thijs Ros, ‏@ThijsRos
  • "Watch, always the watch." - Erica Tackett, ‏@ericamt_
  • "Their eyes. I look for the first thing THEY are noticing, and then I find a way to acknowledge that." - Erika Ellis, ‏@iAMerikaellis
  • "Eye contact, fearlessness in conversation, candor." - Kevin Wong, ‏@kwprime
  • "Level of professionalism, manners and grammar." - Stacey May Brady, ‏@SMBComm
  • "Handshake quality." - Mary Carson, ‏@MCarsonMitchel

Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene

  • Kristin

    I’d suggest taking it easy on the firm handshakes, especially for your older colleagues. I’ve recently had tendonitis in my wrist, and have almost been brought to tears by a few ‘firm handshakes.’