Are you leaving a bad first impression?

By: Lara Ceroni

Author: Canadian Living


Are you leaving a bad first impression?

By: Lara Ceroni
I was at a social gathering once when I spotted a handsome gentleman in the corner (think boyish Robert Redford meets sexy Pierce Brosnan). He appeared to be by himself, as was I, so after a quick sip of merlot, nerves in check, I decided to walk over and introduce myself. Expecting a debonair grin and some flirtatious banter, I was instead met with downcast eyes, a "wet noodle" handshake and awkwardness that was almost palpable.

That was it. My daydreams of some exciting love affair came and went faster than the hors d'oeuvres tray. Although some may argue it's shallow, there really is truth to that old adage, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression." Like it or not, those first few seconds of contact become a standard by which all others judge you.

Monifa Miller, founder of The Little Black Dress, a Toronto-based personal shopping and image consulting firm, says many Canadians overlook the importance of clinching that first impression. Here she shares her top 10 tips for putting your best foot forward.

1. Dress to impress
A stellar dress, glowing teeth or well-coiffed hair? Whatever your grooming rituals are, make sure you look the best you can from head to toe. Your routine doesn't have to be elaborate, but if you're wearing a beautiful suit, ensure your shoes aren't old sneakers you pulled from the recesses of your closet. Invest in a quality purse or briefcase, too. Don't overlook the finer points, as they can make a big difference.

2. Breath of fresh air
It's impossible to smell your own breath, so the best defence against bad breath is a good offence. Avoid stale breath by always having some type of breath freshener handy.

3. Hands down important
Along with having a strong, full handshake (no fingertip shakes, please!), make sure your nails are immaculate. It's a small detail that people do notice, so splurge on a manicure every few weeks to keep your nails looking good.

Page 1 of 2 – Learn how to walk the walk on page 2.

4. Touch-ups
Stock your purse or briefcase with tools that you can use for those quick little touch-ups. Travel-sized deodorant, a nail file, a pocket mirror and toothpicks are your arsenal for looking your best at all times.

5. Get lippy
Lip gloss is a must. Bring it with you everywhere. Nothing could be easier, or freshen up a look faster!

6. Eye to eye
Direct eye contact is key, but steer clear of the intimidating stare-down. Even worse, avoid looking down at the floor, regardless of how nervous you may feel. Nothing screams low self-confidence louder than when your eyes are focused on the scuff marks on your shoes.

7. Grin and bear it
If you find yourself attending a social event solo, walk into the room with a big, warm smile -- instantly you come across as someone friendly, self-assured and, above all, approachable.

8. Walk the walk
Slouched shoulders begone! Good posture is a surefire way to look confident without saying a word. Keep your spine straight and tall, walk with a sure stride and keep your head up.

9. Meet and greet
When introducing yourself to someone new, keep it simple. Say who you are, how you came to be present at the event and then open the floor to him or her. Engage the speaker and show interest in what they have to say. You'll have a loyal fan base in no time.

10. Occasional pressure
Don't reserve your most memorable performances for special events and landmark occasions. Be your best self every day. A healthy inside undoubtedly shines on the outside!

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Are you leaving a bad first impression?