How important is a first impression to you? Do you trust your gut instincts, or do you like to live by the motto don’t judge a book by its cover? No matter which school of thought you belong to, the way you initially present yourself in any setting, particularly in negotiation or mediation, is crucial. You may not have the chance to redeem yourself if you don’t present yourself in a positive manner from the start.
Thomas G. Plante, in his article titled, “Five Strategies for a Fabulous First Impression,” has made some great points as to why a first impression can make or break your future relationship with someone.
- Be the Best You. Because it is typical for a first-time client to feel uncomfortable with the idea of meeting an attorney, it is so important to remember to be you, but the best you. Remember that someone can impose negative judgement on you within the first few moments of meeting you. To avoid this, you can make a great first impression on your potential client by letting them know, right off the bat, who you are, what exactly you practice and how you plan to help them in either negotiation or mediation.
- Remember Your Non-Verbal Communication. Non-verbal communication, such as posture, manners, and eye contact, has a huge impact on how you deliver your first impression. Although you may be saying all the right things verbally, your non-verbal communication can be saying the exact opposite. It is important to be aware of this factor.
- It Is Not About You. It is important to remember that the initial interaction with a potential client should focus on what their needs are. It is important to ask questions and relate to their perspective on the matter they are seeking help for. In doing so, you can connect with your client and begin to establish a trustworthy relationship. It can be a rewarding feeling to know that you’ve earned the trust of your client by making them feel confident in knowing that you will fight to give them peace of mind in their matter.
The first impression you leave on a potential client can determine your future relationship with them. Mediations and negotiations can be stressful for clients and non-attorneys, so building trust and rapport with your client can make negotiation or mediation a stress-free experience. The start of this relationship is making a good first impression. Therefore, make that first impression count because it can determine your future success in negotiations or mediations.