The moment that stranger sees you, their brain makes a thousand assumptions. It might be a new client or someone you meet anywhere else. You are giving off clues about yourself before you ever begin to speak. They are gathering a wealth of nonverbal clues about you.
What are nonverbal clues?
Nonverbal clues include all the ways you present and express yourself, apart from the actual words you speak. Things like eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements, and tone of voice. All of these signals can convey important information that isn’t put into words. They are extremely important at work and in business. Perception is reality.
If you are dealing with a prospective customer – the following items will instantly fly through their head upon your first meeting:
- Are you trustworthy?
- Will you be kind to their pet?
- Do you have the skills required to groom their dog or cat?
- Are you likable?
- Are you confident?
- Will you charge a fair price for your services?
These impressions form at lightning speed. Making major decisions about another person happens within seconds of meeting them.
In business, first impressions are crucial. You can’t stop people from making snap decisions – the human brain is hardwired this way as prehistoric survival mechanism. However, you can understand how to make those decisions work in your favor.
First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal clues than verbal clues. In fact, studies have found that nonverbal clues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say.
Here are nine nonverbal ways to make a positive first impression with a grooming client, a new team member or a new business associate.
- Present yourself professionally. Blue jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts and a baseball cap are not professional. If you are in your shop or van, wear fresh garments that repel dirt, grime and hair. At a trade show? Dress in ‘professional casual.’
- Pay attention to details. Hair style, light make-up (for women) and your nails all give strong visual cues. Having fun with personal style is fine – as long as it stays a little more on the conservative side. Over-the-top piercings, tattoos and gauges will not instantly form a positive impression on most people you meet – especially prospective clients.
- Attitude – attitude – attitude. People pick up on your attitude instantly. Before you turn to greet someone, or address a team member, or walk into a trade show, think about the situation. Make a conscious choice about the attitude you want to project.
- Fine-tune your posture. Position and authority are non-verbally conveyed by height and space. Standing tall, pulling your shoulders back, and holding your head high are all signs of confidence and competence.
- Facial expression. Human faces are incredibly expressive including the eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and any other movement. Open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the ‘eyebrow flash’. This is the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgment. Emotions such as anger, happiness, hurt, and boredom are all easily expressed with facial movements.
- Smile more. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome. It says you are friendly and approachable. Smile at the pooch too. Owners love that!
- Make eye contact. To transmit energy look at someone’s eyes. Looking into someone’s eyes indicate interest and openness. And if that person has a pet in tow, make sure you look into the pets eyes as well.
- The handshake. This is the quickest way to establish a connection. It’s also the most effective. Here’s an interesting fact. On average it takes about three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level a rapport that you get with a single handshake. A firm handshake indicates a strong personality. But don’t crush someone else’s hand – as groomers, our hands are typically really strong! A weak handshake is taken as a lack of strength.
- Lean forward slightly. Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and attentive. But be respectful of the other person space. That normally means staying about two feet away.
Every encounter from chatting with new clients, going to trade shows or attending training sessions presents an opportunity to meet people. It’s a great way to network, expanding your professional contacts. Making a positive first impression counts. You’ve got nine seconds – but if you handle it well, those nine seconds are all you need.
You should check out our videos on Learn2GroomDogs.com. Here is a featured video clip from our channel on YouTube: