”First impressions last” is a well-known expression, and according to Henrik Fexeus, mentalist and behaviorist, it’s really true. Fexeus has published several books about practical psychology and influence—and he points out the importance of making the right impression, right from the start. “You can always try to change your first impression afterwards, but it takes a long time and it’s never 100% successful,” he says.
Bachelor’s degree in practical philosophy.
Mentalist, program host, lecturer and author who has been translated into over 30 languages. Writes about human behavior, influence and relationships.
So how do we best maintain a conversation with a new business contact? What is good to chat about if you want to have meaningful dialogue and create long-term relations? Fexeus has a good trick. “I like to say that all you need to do is ask a question about one of these three things: personality, motivation or feelings. For example, you can ask where the person comes from. If they say that they’re from Granby, but that they recently moved to Stockholm, you can ask, ‘How did that feel,’ rather than telling them that you know where Granby is. You can also ask, ‘I noticed that you were extra-interested in the first point we discussed in the meeting; is that something you’re involved with?’ That’s a perfect way to start a more personal relationship, maybe not right in the middle of a budget meeting, but ideally afterwards at the coffee machine.”
Calling the person by name is one of the details that have a significant effect in an initial meeting. “We love to hear our own names, because we’re starved for other people’s attention. These days we’re often caught up in social media, email and other things that compete for our attention. If you can give the visitor your full attention – call them by name, look them in the eye, listen and ask follow-up questions – you’ll make a good impression and it’s likely that they will want to meet you again.”
Fexeus’s best tip for remembering someone’s name is to think of an attribute linked to the person. “For example, if you’re going to meet someone named Stephanie, you can think of a stepladder. It might sound crazy, but trying to visualize an object linked to the name really does work. The next time you see that person, you’ll see that object in front of you, and that will help you remember the person’s name.”