This post is about the importance of making a really good first impression with a simple “Good Morning” or “Hello” and how much of a difference it can make to your interactions.
Using “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening” whilst all being formal in their manner shows a positive and welcoming attitude towards the recipient. These greetings (in a much older dialect of course!) date back to the 1200’s A.D in Britain and it’s a testament to their importance that they still survive in everyday use even today.
Moving up to more modern times, the first use of the world “Hello” as a greeting has been attributed to various writers since the 1830’s (although the word itself is based on an old Germanic word with much earlier roots). It’s use as a universal “Hello” came with the invention of the telephone and is attributed to Thomas Edison in the late 1870’s although I would have preferred we kept Sir Alexander Graham Bell’s “Ahoy” as a greeting personally!
So why is this greeting so important? Whether it be the use of a formal “Good Morning” or a more informal “Hello”, they are words that are used in various forms around the world so obviously have major social meaning and impact.
We all need a conversation opener – I’m still leaning towards “Ahoy” here by the way – some way to get the attention of the recipient of the conversation and break the ice. But there’s more to it than that:
In less than a second, the time it takes to say “hello” we make a snap judgement about someone’s personality
Jody Kreiman – cited in an NPR Article
Whilst we may be all to familiar with pheremones and body language as indicators of whether we’ll get along with someone or not, we can decide within 500 milliseconds of hearing somebodies voice as to whether we’ll have some form of rapport or not. This is even more important now that the physical meeting of people is being superceded by the likes of Skype and FaceTime, where quite often body language (and until they develop “smell-o-vision”, pheremones) can be missed, or misinterpreted.
So, How Do We Make A Great First Impression?
For men, those with a raised tone of voice (i.e. not barratone etc.) were deemed to be more trustworthy. For women it was those who varied the tone of their voice with a lower-level syllable at the end who were trusted most. Note that a raised syllable at the end of a word denotes a question and therefore uncertainty.
It is difficult to vary the natural pitch and cadence of your voice – after all you’ve had it all of your life! – but it can be done. I’ve found since being on a communication course and changing my “up angled” to down sentences (so everything I say no longer sounds like a question) it’s made a huge impact on how confidently I’m perceived by others. I know that your voice makes you but there are some situations where it may be worth your while changing the tone of your voice or the way you speak.
But, if you’re struggling with the way that you speak, there are some simple ways to make a great first impression without having to change everything:
- Speak confidently – Be strong with your “Good Morning” or “Hello”, don’t sound timid. Being the voice of authority counts.
- Acknowledge them as quickly as possibly – This shows that they have your attention and that you’re aware of them. Leave it a minute before you utter even a “Hi” and it sounds like an after thought.
- Smile and use open body language – This shows that you’re warm and welcoming and open to communicating with this person.
- Make eye contact – although don’t stare too much or you’ll end up looking like a serial killer!
- Ask questions – let them know you’re interested in them
- Dress the part – If you look smart, you’ll be seen as professional and you’ll act more professionally too.
Of course, the above only works works after you’ve greeted them properly with a “Good Morning” or “Hello”, trying to work in the above techniques without a proper introduction is too little, too late.
What Do You Think?
Which is better: a formal “Good Morning” (or just “Morning”), a less formal “Hello” or a cheeky chappie “Hiya”?
Do we really only take half a second to form an opinion of trustworthyness? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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