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Why is the first impression the best impression?

Looking sharp is important. Do you know why? They say the first impression is the best impression for a reason. Here’s the reason: Safety.

Safety in exceptional circumstances

When you’re walking at night down a dimly lit street and you see an old lady on one side of the road, and a group of thugs on the other, which side do you walk on? Your gut takes in all the information around you, the lack of light, the lack of familiarity of the area, the lack of protection, the danger posed by the old lady and the danger posed by a group of rough looking guys, and in an instant your brain makes a decision to take the side with the old lady.

This isn’t racism, sexism, ageism, and whatever other “-isms” are out there, this is a matter of your mind making snap decisions to protect you. It’s commonly called stereotyping, but in the situation outlined above, it doesn’t matter what it’s called as long as you get home safely.

This is the value of first impressions: it allows you to make snap life or death decisions without having to carefully evaluate each person or situation (which can be dangerous if the person or situation is dangerous). If you want to read a fantastic book on this, I’d recommend “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker.

Safety in everyday circumstances

The first impression is the best impression because the brain picks out so many details in one snap shot of the person that it’s initial assessment is near spot on in the most critical of situations.

The same thing applies for every day life. If you dress like a bucket, others see you as a bucket. If you dress like a thug, others see you as a thug. Pull your pants up, press your shirt, comb your hair, fix up your beard, stand up straight, look sharp and all of a sudden the world sees you in a whole new light. Why? Because, in so doing, you project an image of safety on others.

  • Dan Pena talks about always visiting bankers in your best suit. Why? Because, in so doing, they can bet on you.
  • My small business instructors told us that the judges would make a decision on our 5-minute pitch 2 minutes into it. Why? Because their first impression already knows whether I’m serious or not.
  • Guys dress well when visiting their ladies. Why? Because when they do, the lady knows that the gentlemen is actually a gentlemen.

When you visit someone dressed appropriate for the occasion, looking sharp as a razor, that person just trusts you because you project an image of safety. You’re not a bucket, nor a thug, but someone dependable.

How to take advantage of this

To take advantage of this phenomenon, in your heart of hearts, make the decision to become someone trustworthy to your loved ones, clients and stakeholders. The change to become trustworthy, dependable and someone others can lean on for safety, must come from within. Only then will others start to register signs that you’re a good bet. Next:

  • Get a haircut and style your hair. That’s the cheapest way to change your external appearance. Shaggy hair tells everyone you don’t care.
  • Press your shirt and pants. Wrinkled clothing give off the impression that you’re falling apart.
  • Wear matching colors. Mismatched colors make people question your decisions.
  • Polish your shoes. Rough looking shoes also tell you people you don’t care.
  • Smell good (don’t reek of food or BO). A strong smell makes people think you’re unaware of your surroundings.

If you’re as sharp as a razor, your wife/girlfriend, investor, employee, banker and client will see you in a different light. The first impression you give off is one of safety. You’re a good husband/boyfriend, a solid bet, a trustworthy boss, a positive investment, and a true problem solver. The best part is that this is all within your reach and not too expensive.

The first impression is the best impression. Therefore, look sharp, be trusted, get ahead and you win.

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