Tips for making a great first impression in the workplace

My husband and I ate lunch last Sunday with a small group of people we haven’t spent much time with. The setting was nice: an outdoor Chinese restaurant with delicious rice concoctions and fortune cookies for dessert. There was a slight breeze and the weather was in the 70s; life was good. However, there was one woman present who monopolized the entire conversation, and I found myself more and more eager for our outing to end. This particular incident helps highlight one of the key lessons in the art of first impressions: self-absorption is not an attractive quality.

Sure, we all enjoy talking about our life, our dreams, and our desires with someone. That’s a necessary part of life. We need to feel that someone gets us and cares about us, and we do that through communication. But the first time you meet someone is not the time to debrief them about your life—past, present and future.

First impressions happen everywhere, but one place where they are particularly important is the office. Let’s say you just landed your dream job and this morning is your first day. You’re probably nervous, maybe you didn’t sleep well last night, but take a deep breath and look at today as an opportunity—you get to start from fresh with your coworkers and boss. Here are three tips for making your debut in any office a hit.

1). As highlighted by my Chinese restaurant example, it’s not all about you. Of course, your coworkers are going to be curious about you. They’re going to ask questions, and you certainly don’t want to be evasive, but make it clear you are just as interested in getting to know them. When people learn you aren’t self-absorbed, they’re much more likely to view you positively and seek you out in the future.

2). Dress professionally. This shows your coworkers and boss that you care about your job, the company, and that you respect them enough to display a high level of professionalism.

3). Stay off your cell phone and no text messaging unless on lunch or break. Even if other coworkers are on their personal phones, it’s best to avoid such practices, especially in the beginning when you are still unsure of company policies.

So, savor the opportunity to create great first impressions: they are a powerful tool that will help you both professionally and personally.