The Importance of a Good First Impression

7 August 2018

We take pride in making a good first impression at Storm – after all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Our Front of House Manager, Stuart, discusses why this is so important and the science behind how we make split-second judgements.

The perception of reception

Usually, the receptionist is the first point of contact that a client or a guest will interact with and occasionally the only point of contact. Having someone who embodies the values and professionalism of the business, while also providing a friendly, charismatic host is paramount to a successful front of house.

The first thing to notice about most workplaces is the reception area, which is why we believe the design should be reflective of the personality and vision of the company’s ethos. Every client, employee or visitor who walks through the office doors receives the first impression of your organisation immediately from the reception.

Storm reception with Sharon and Jason

It’s become more important to have a reception area that leaves a lasting impression, particularly one that provides a professional and dedicated service towards clients and visitors. Our goal at Storm is to encapsulate this and in the process, create the image of a dependable and resourceful information hub, ensuring our clients enjoy their visit from the lobby to the meeting room.

Although the reception is a hotspot for quick meetings and small talk, making a sound impression is valuable at every level of a business, from dealing with potential clients to running workshops for the next generation of coders.

Your first impression will be your last

People make a decision about someone’s character in a tenth of a second. Obviously, this isn’t long enough to really get to know someone, so our immediate perception of them is an amalgamation of our own cognitive bias and social filters to create a quick judgement.

The largest part of our communication with others is done via non-verbal movement and gestures, meaning that there is more of an emphasis on the way we appear, smell and sound. These snap judgements may not always be the most accurate, but they are lasting. Interestingly, this gives way to what’s known as the halo effect:

“The halo effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about his or her character. Essentially, your overall impression of a person (“He is nice!”) impacts your evaluations of that person’s specific traits (“He is also smart!”).”

So, in essence, the more attractive and healthy you are, the more likely that people will make positive assumptions about you! If you are lucky enough to have the ‘right’ face you will be generally considered as more likeable, capable and intelligent. If you are not so lucky, you might have what could be called the ‘wrong’ face and can be perceived as unreliable, incompetent and unfriendly.

Group sitting in Storm reception

With this in mind, it’s clear to see how your image and mood can affect your social life, as well as your success in your career. Generally speaking, there are four main categories that people judge another’s character on, including:

1) Babyfaceness

Biologically speaking this makes sense, as it represents fertility and youth, however, although you will be treated with more kindness should you have the large eyes and a round head, you may also be seen as weak and not capable.

2) Familiarity

Facial similarity is also a major factor when your brain is making its first impression. If you meet someone who oddly reminds you of a friend or a family member, the chances are you will project their personalities onto this new acquaintance, i.e. if you meet someone who looks like your angry uncle Dave, you might assume that this new confrère is also angry!

3) Fitness

There is a vague agreement about what makes someone ‘attractive’, generally associated with a symmetrical face with proper proportions. Overall, the healthier you are, the more attractive you seem and this makes you come across as likeable and smart.

4) Emotional resemblance

The final asset would be the emotional resemblance that you have of someone you already know, i.e. if their face seems to rest naturally as a frown, you may assume that they are angry when they may not be. This also falls under the bracket of fundamental attribution bias.

A business card for the company

Now more than ever, companies are putting an emphasis on the pragmatism of their reception area, understanding that it is reflective of the level of professionalism within the company. Thus, the reception area is of critical importance. In a way, it’s really like your business card.

Colleagues in Storm reception

Visitors should be able to walk in, look around and right away understand what it is that the company does. The area should be welcoming and radiate a feeling of creativity, inspiring guests with interesting and surprising elements of the company.

Whether it’s an interview with a prospective employee or dealing with a client, the front of house image and ambience will help cultivate and grow client relations. In the business world, it’s important to know about the role these relationships play in increasing revenue and productivity. Ultimately, this gives us the chance to showcase Storm’s friendly, professional and genuine culture, strengthening our personability with our clients.

Things to remember

We’re all looking to make that first meeting go smoothly and display the best version of ourselves. So to help with that, here are a few things from the Psychology of First Impressions to keep in mind the next time you’re about to meet someone new:

  • Dress slightly better than the occasion warrants (it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed).
  • Make frequent eye contact, especially when speaking, but avoid dominating with your eyes.
  • Smile (we search for smiles and notice them at great distances).
  • Think of the most positive feature of the other person (that will put you in a pleasant frame of mind).
  • Adjust your voice, gestures, posture and words to the other person (remember, we prefer people who are similar to us).
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt (i.e. remember the fundamental attribution error).
  • Be confident in yourself and don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  • Express early the attributes you most want to convey.

meeting in reception

Continuity is key

To ensure a smooth transition for your visitor from the reception to the business, it’s crucial to present a friendly and positive atmosphere. This is where the company’s brand and attitude begins to permeate, which we try to keep consistent within Storm.

By creating continuity throughout the company, from the first foot in the door to the last handshake on the way out, we can create an experience that illustrates our compassion and drive to be the best at what we do.

We’re always on the lookout for talented Storm Troopers to make a good first impression on. Take a look at our latest vacancies to find one you’re perfect for and we’ll see you in reception soon!




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