First and Lasting Impressions – #3 Follow the 7% Rule

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It’s no secret that non-verbal communication, or body language, speaks volumes when making a first impression. Years ago, Professor Albert Mehrabian came up with the now famous 7 percent rule. He said:

“Communication is 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal.”

The 93% non-verbal component is made up of body language and tone of voice. Good body language and a strong tone of voice show you’re confident and builds trust and respect.

Here are some tips to making a great first impression using a combination of verbal and non-verbal techniques:

  • Start with a firm (but not too firm) handshake
  • State your name confidently
  • Look the other person in the eye
  • Maintain a friendly but relaxed facial expression (remember, smile!)
  • Keep good posture – shoulders back and chin up
  • Rest your hands in your lap or on the table but keep them away from your face
  • Cross your legs at the ankles or place both feet flat on the floor
  • Smile and nod when appropriate
  • Speak in a clear and controlled voice
  • Listen (remember – speak less, listen more!)
  • Ask clarifying questions

One advanced technique that creates a stronger rapport is called mirroring. This is exactly what it sounds like: mirror the other person’s body posture and language. For example, if they lean back, you lean back. If they lean forward, you lean forward. Mirror their tone and cadence when they speak. This will help create a stronger rapport and higher level of trust.

Another note of caution: don’t try too hard. You’ll become stiff and robotic, and just like an insincere smile, your audience will notice. Be authentic and subtle, but if you’re unsure what to do, how to act or what tone of voice to use, look, listen and mirror what your counterparts do.


To download the 5 tips on how to make a lasting impression, click here.

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