During a recent seminar, I was asked a question that I’ve heard many times before from clients. The female guest asked, “How soon does a man know he’s interested?” And, you know what? It got me thinking. We often talk about how to approach the first date or how to know when it’s time to take the next step in a relationship, but something I’d like to focus on today is the importance, and impact, of the first impression. Because, dear friend, for better of for worse, on both a subconscious and conscious level, it takes far less time than you might think.
Psychologists have long studied the inner workings of first impressions, and have said that the average length of time it takes for a person to form a first impression is seven seconds. As you may have guessed, this tends to be how long it takes a man to know – at least initially – if he’s interested in a woman. Men, as you know, more than women, are visually motivated beings. It's hard-wired in their DNA. How a woman looks, how she’s dressed, how she carries herself and walks, even the sound of her voice – these are all things that men immediately notice and are drivers of attraction.
While there are absolutely other stages in a man deciding if he’s really interested in a woman, and if he’s interested in a relationship, this post’s going to focus on the very first encounter. Let’s talk about how to make the most of a first impression and making sure those first seven seconds showcase your best, most authentic self. AND, keep in mind; I know it takes two to tango, so I am going to assume you are interested in him too. :)
I've purposely kept these bits of advice simple and to the point. The reason is I want them to work as Reminders. Sometimes we forget them and try to make things super complicated. So here goes...
1. Engage, Engage, Engage
When a handsome guy looks your way or a friend first introduces you to him, you’re faced with a decision. You’re probably familiar with the idea of “fight or flight,” right? Well, the same sort of thing happens when you meet someone new of the opposite sex. Your eyes meet his, you start to feel a little it nervous, and your mind (and body) quickly decide whether to engage or throw the walls up.
The next time you meet someone who piques your interest, be mindful of the two options in front of you. No matter how nervous or hesitant you might feel, I encourage you to take a deep breath, remain in the present and engage. It’s impossible to make an authentic first impression if you’re not present, and there’s no surer way to waste those precious first seven seconds than to block a new connection with security walls.
Let’s pretend you’re in line at your go-to coffee shop and the cute guy behind you flashes you a smile. He’s alone, has clearly noticed you and now you have a decision to make – do you grab your coffee and head towards the door or lean in and see where the moment takes you? You lean in, of course. You engage. Give him a big smile back, give him a friendly hello and if you are feeling open, simply ask him how his day is going. It might seem a little awkward at first, but the more you practice mindfully engaging the easier it will become. You are not asking him on a date or to exchange vows, you're just asking him how his day is going!
2. Be Mindful of Your Body Language
Let’s pretend you’re somewhere unfamiliar and need to ask directions from a stranger. You quickly scan the sidewalk around you and notice you have several people to choose from. How do you decide whom to walk up to? How do you know who will be most likely to stop and help you out? It all comes down to body language. We are naturally and emotionally conditioned to read and interpret the body language of those around us – sometimes it’s an intentional act of noticing and other times it’s more subconscious.
When meeting someone for the first time, or when someone’s making the decision of whether or not to approach you, your body language speaks volumes. If your arms or crossed, your hands are square on your hips or your face is buried in your phone, you’re sending an intense signal to “stay away.” On the other hand, if your body is relaxed, legs standing hip-width part, arms relaxed and head held high, you’re perceived as approachable and inviting. Be aware of how you hold your body and make subtle shifts to send the right message!
Now, let’s say that you’re having a conversation with a guy you’re interested in, maybe you’re sitting at the local pub or next to each other on the subway. Avoid crossing your arms, no matter how comfortable it might feel. Lean in and turn your body towards him. These subtle acts show that you’re fully engaged in the moment, receptive to what he has to say and will leave a positive impression in his mind. It’s often said that actions speak louder than words and, when it comes to the science of body language, it couldn’t be truer.
3. Disarm Him With Authenticity
In a world filled with high expectations, superficialities and constant competition, nothing is quite as attractive as authenticity. By now you know that I often work with my clients to build lives, and relationships, that are as genuine and authentic as possible. I, like many others, truly believe that you cannot experience a truly fulfilling life – or love – without first becoming your most authentic self.
And you know what? Authenticity is ridiculously attractive. Men love real women. A man loves a woman’s real body, real mind and real heart. From the first moment you meet a man, embrace your authentic self and allow your real self to shine.
Let’s pretend that you’re having the worst day ever and nothing seems to be going right. That is, of course, until you run into the new guy in the neighbourhood who’s caught your eye a couple times before. Maybe your hair has a mind of its own on this day or you’re running errands in sweats because your dryer’s on the fritz. So what? This guy – let’s call him Joel – is walking right up to you and this is your chance to finally meet him. When he asks how your day’s going, be honest! It’s OK to admit that you’re having one hell of a day, and that bumping into him as brightened your day. You don’t need to run and hide or, worse, pretend that everything’s completely perfect. I promise you that he’ll appreciate your honesty and flattered that he’s caught your eye.
4. Ask Him a Question. Seriously.
Anyone can give a compliment when meeting someone new, and while this is a great first step to get yourself comfortable with striking up conversations, there’s actually something even better you can do to make a lasting first impression. When meeting someone new, take note of your surroundings and of him. What’s he wearing? What’s he drinking? What’s he doing? Quickly taking inventory of all the topics at your disposal will help you start a conversation that is anything but generic.
When your first encounter goes from a simple “Hi, how are you?” to “I love your t-shirt, did you ever catch them live?” you immediately form a personal connection and open the door for real conversation. Asking a question, particularly about something that maybe other people don’t notice, will show him that you really do pay attention and are genuinely interested in learning more about him.
Plus, we all know that people tend to enjoy talking about themselves. When a man is interested in a woman, it’s his natural instinct to impress her. Asking a question and allowing him to entertain you with a response gives him a chance to do both of the above – talk about himself in a way that doesn’t come across as bragging and even potentially impress you with his answer.
5. Embrace a Certain Sense of Mystery
You’ve heard of “playing hard to get” and “leaving him wanting more,” right? While certainly these concepts can be taken to the extreme, to the point where they wind up backfiring, there is power in practicing a certain level of mystery. Men are programmed at a genetic level to “chase” and, believe it or not, enjoy the thrill of vying for a woman’s attention and the opportunity to learn more about her.
When getting to know somebody new, there’s no need to put it all on the table straight away. In fact, leaving a little bit to the imagination and keeping him wanting to know more about you can be incredibly effective in nabbing his interest. You can do this in the way that you dress, how you answer his questions in a very authentic way and even how you end your first encounter. Men are intrigued by the exciting and interesting things is going on in your life and "fitting him in" between work and other plans – just enough time to grab a drink and catch up until next time is a good thing. The only mistake I sometimes see women making here is they talk a lot about how crazy busy they are and how they don't have time for anything. Men are really only interested in when you are available, not the mountain of times you aren't.
A (somewhat) mysterious woman can be captivating, intriguing and very, very sexy to a man. The key is to not create a false persona, but to remain your authentic self and simply allow him to crave seeing you again and getting to know you better. Have fun with dating and getting to know someone. Sometimes we forget this!
To your authenticity,