First Impressions, Second Impressions, and Maybe Thirds and Fourths



This is a guest post by Diane Clement.

The debate continues.  Some suggest that first impressions are formed within two minutes, others say 30 seconds while Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, proposes that we “thin slice” our firsts into unconscious microseconds.  What is consistent among behaviorists is that first impressions matter.

I recently started reading The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte.  In section four, Laporte focuses on “the burning questions.” She focuses on two queries in particular; when someone asks you what you do, what do you say? And how do you feel when you say it?   This is often your very first impression.  Let’s face it, sooner –or- later you want to know what people are up to in their lives so that your brain can continue constructing meaning.

 Center Stage

When someone asks you what you do, what do you say?
And how do you feel when you say it?

For some people this question causes their hearts to thunder.  Just the words induce unease while they scramble for what to say while others go blank.  Others keep it short and simple (I used to be one of these).  Some might embellish in an effort to impress, and others dance around the truth with dubious desires.  This question stirs up the truth. Then there are people who appear to be bursting with enthusiasm, they speak with confidence and poise and you can see that their passion is the fuel in which they move.

Having a powerful one liner about what you do can tell you as much about yourself as it can a perfect stranger about who you are and what you are up to.  If your one liner doesn’t feel right, maybe it’s time to consider a shift.

 Spoiler Alert: People ARE judging you from the moment they lay eyes on you

Five tips to making a more powerful first impression

1.  Forget about what you feel you should say and commit to being real
2.  Avoid going into your story about why you “aren’t” …
3.  Look people in the eye
4.  Combine the facts with feeling. Example:  I am a teacher.  I get to spend my day with 20 something kids who (like  everyone) want to be successful, significant and feel inspired.  They teach me – I teach them.
5.  Smile (but not to the point that it becomes cheesy)

Now, there are two sides to first impressions; the ones that you make on others, and those that others make on you.   As the old saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  If most people are like Gladwell suggests, then people will judge you within seconds or even milliseconds; all the more reason to discover your “zone” and more importantly, to live in it.

When on the other side of the conversation however, you have the power to decide for yourself what an impression means.  This capacity can be summed up in two words: BE CURIOUS.

The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existing
~ Albert Einstein

 As much as we are unconsciously deducing, analyzing, evaluating and constructing, we do have enormous power in what we conscientiously do.  It is easy for us to dismiss people because we believe we don’t have anything in common.  She is in love with herself; he’s an ass; boring (insert yawn); will she stop talking?

Being curious however, is a door opener.

When we keep our curiosity alive and our hearts open, we are able to see people; actually see them.  Where we are in life and love has very much to do with the people that have come in and out of our lives, influencing, advising, inspiring and igniting us along the way.

So, whether you are out and about making your mark, or creating space for someone else to do the same, be purposeful, be aware, be curious, and be yourself.

I would like to thank Sherrie for having me as a guest-blogger.  We met at Baptiste Level I Teacher Training in New York last August.  We stumbled upon each other’s blogs this year and I am honored to have a little space here … to make a first impression.  Thank you Sherrie. You can check out her ideas on first impressions here.


About Diane Clement

 Diane Clement is a Canadian born international educator, Ironman triathlete, and aspiring Baptiste certified yoga instructor.  She has lived abroad for the past 12 years in Japan, Thailand, Colombia, Brazil and currently resides in Mexico.  She loves to write and share her ideas and experiences with the ultimate goal of inspiring and empowering others. Diane is committed to building a community where people are encouraged to make their real potential happen.  You can connect with Diane on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.


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