How to make a great first impression

Being social animals, we care a lot about how others perceive us. It is in our nature that we crave for being accepted, recognized, and to be loved or at least liked. Of course, how much we want all this depends a lot on our personality and on the circumstances. However, most of us wish to make a good impression on people we spend time with – and it doesn’t come easily to everybody. Working as a coach I’ve heard from my clients several times that social gatherings can cause them a great deal of stress and the feeling of defeat. Especially when they have to meet new people.

Though several books could be (and actually are) written on human interactions, my attempt with this post is to summarize the things that can help to make a killer first impression – and have fun at the same time.

  1. Mood

It’s important to know that others don’t react to what we are like – since, except for those few who are really close to us, most people have no idea what we are really like – but to what is in our head. Or even more, they react to how we feel ourselves to be at the moment.

You must know what it’s like when you leave home in a good mood and somehow all your interactions go really well: you get appreciative glances on the street, the shop assistant is friendly in the grocery store and you have a great chat with one of your co-workers with whom you usually just say ‘Hi’ to each other. What happens on days like this is simply that others instinctively give a positive reaction to your uplifted feelings.

Sea Ocean Sand Beach Vacation Coast Chill Bare Concept

There are several ways to boost your mood in a few minutes: you can dance to your favorite song, or watch funny videos, or meditate, or eat some chocolate – only you know what makes you joyful and energetic. Whatever that is, do it! If you are conscious about your state of mind and boost your mood before you go to meet new people you
can be sure that they will be more than happy to talk to you.


2. Body language

Many studies underline the fact that what we say during a conversation provides only 7% of what we actually communicate to others. The rest of the 93% comes from our non-verbal channels: mainly from our body language and partly from the tone of our voice. People decide within a few seconds, basically unconsciously whether they like someone or not.

If you want to learn more about non-verbal communication there are several great books on the subject (my long time favorite is Body Language by Allan Pease) that provide a lot of exciting information on how our posture, facial expressions, etc. affects others. Generally speaking, it’s useful if you straighten up; if you look others in the eyes while you talk; if you smile (but only if you can do it naturally, a forced smile can look kind of creepy); and if you avoid the typical signs of closing up such as folded arms and crossed legs (except if you sit on a barstool wearing a mini skirt – then probably it’s better if you do cross your legs).


3. Attention

One of the best things you can offer to another person is your genuine attention. Everybody loves to feel that they and what they are saying is interesting and exciting for others. Therefore, the best strategy at social gatherings is to ask questions and to listen attentively to the answers.


Of course do not act like an interrogator: if you sense that the person you are talking to is not willing to talk about some topic (or any topic) do not force it.

Reciprocity is also important especially if you end up into talking about deeper, or more personal topics. So, if they ask about you, answer. But try not talk to much about yourself, do not go into loooong stories. And never ever praise yourself even if there are several things you can be proud of. Let others discover it for themselves what great skills, qualities and personality you have – a process that requires more than one encounter of course. But the chance for those next encounters evaporates if you scare them off with your bragging.


4. Know that others are insecure too

We all tend to view ourselves under a magnifying glass, particularly our imperfections. Everybody becomes uncertain every now and then about their looks, their comments and on how others might see them. This is true even of those people who seem to be totally confident.

Next time you go to a social gathering and the little voice in your head starts to telling you things like ‘they must think I’m stupid’ or ‘I shouldn’t wear this shirt’ or ‘their job is so much better than mine, and they know it’ be aware that the person or people you are talking to probably have a very similar inner dialogue in their head about some of their shortcomings that you didn’t even notice.

We are all human with plenty of flaws and everybody is much more concerned about their imperfections than yours. When you meet people try to relax and instead of focusing on what others might think of you, be present and enjoy the conversation.


5. Let it go

There are people with whom you are not on the same wavelength. It’s important to understand that it’s not your (or their) fault – it’s just that you and them don’t share the same interests, have very different personalities or simply don’t fit.

If you bump into someone who you don’t feel good around just move on (without being rude of course) and find someone else to talk to. Luckily there are more than enough people on the planet to talk to, so the chances are pretty good that sooner or later you will find someone with whom you can talk to for 3 hours and feel like it was only 15 minutes.


Have fun talking to people and making new friends!

Read this post in Hungarian here/Ezt a posztot itt olvashatod magyarul

Getting back to Creativity – Part 2

‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.’

Albert Einstein

(Read this post in Hungarian here/Ezt a posztot itt olvashatod magyarul.)


It’s widely believed that one must be born creative to be creative and those who were not born that way should make their peace with not having ingenuity, playfulness and spontaneity in their life. However, it isn’t true — as I’ve written in my previous post, all of us were born to be incredibly creative. The question is whether we can preserve our creativity while we grow up – what is pretty difficult to do, most of us can’t – and if we have lost it how can we get it back.

In order to bring to life our intuition, lightness and longing to create – things that we have suppressed for years or for decades – we need to let our child-self arise and create freely. To make this process easier we will learn a few things from the most creative creatures on earth: children.
What are the things we will pick up from them?


1. Flexibility

Children’s notion of the world is not as solid as adult’s. They don’t think that every problem can only be solved according to their previous experiences and that if the methods they know don’t work, it’s better to give up. If a child can’t solve a problem in one way they will try something utterly different. If that doesn’t work either, they try something else. The bottom line is that they can think outside the box and come up with dozens of new ideas.

Meanwhile, we grown-ups tend to get stuck in our fixed problem-solving patterns. We know our life-situations and difficulties so well that pretty often we can’t see them clearly at all.

If you face a difficulty try to step back and look at the situation from an outsider’s point of view – like you were an alien who just met the exotic life and problems of humans – to find new, original solutions to the problem.

2. They do one thing at a time

Children are always 100% involved in what they are doing. And how many things do they do at a time? Only one. But they do that one at full stretch, pouring all their attention and energy to it.

Multi-tasking is the worst thing that one can do if they want to be productive: while they give half of their attention to this and half of their attention to that they don’t pay any real attention to anything. When you do more than one thing at a time you don’t really get involved in either of the tasks you are dealing with, thus you can’t enjoy them. Not to mention that the quality of your work will be at the very least questionable.

Next time you engage in a creative activity give your full, undivided attention to it. Doing one thing at a time will boost your productivity and you will experience the amazing feeling of be in the Flow.


3. They don’t judge

Children think and create without having doubts and fears. They don’t question themselves. They don’t compare themselves to others. It doesn’t even occur to them that the drawing or the LEGO castle they are working on won’t be good enough. They know that whatever they are working on, the outcome will be awesome.

Perfectionism is the number one killer of creativity. I don’t say it’s wrong that you want to do a good job. Of course you want to. You should want to. What I’m saying is that when you work on something, don’t focus on the outcome and, in particular, do not focus on your fears regarding the outcome but on the activity itself. Learn to switch off your self-criticism that constantly tells you that you are not good enough.

Become your own supporter, instead of your own worst enemy. Let yourself create freely and joyfully.

4. They are OK with making mistakes

This relates greatly to the previous point. Children can handle their failures. They must. What if toddlers told themselves: ‘well, I’ve tried this walking thing a couple of times but it seems really hard and it’s so embarrassing that I fell a couple of times, so I’m just going to stick to crawling” and then they would spend the next 70—80 years of their lives on all fours? Would be sort of unreasonable, wouldn’t it?

If you start to do something new, be apologetic and gentle towards yourself. Know that you will get better and better in this activity if you give yourself enough time and credit to get better in it.

5. They have time

Give some time to creativity. According to many artists and scientist some of their best ideas arose when they were not working. If you start a creative project have long (maybe even several days long) breaks every now and then.

Throughout these intermissions, on an unconscious level your mind will still be working on the issue and then, out of the blue it will come up with a great idea or solution shouting ‘Eureka’.


6. They live in the now

Children don’t dwell on the past and are not anxious about the future. They are always in the here and now and intuitively try to make the best out of every moment.

This state of mind is a bit tricky to achieve for adults as we need to pay the bills and take care of ourselves on our own.

Yet, if you let your daily worries and tasks go for a few minutes every day and let yourself to be in the moment to play and laugh, you will be able to deal with challenging situations more light-heartedly and will find a creative, unique solution to them.





Getting back to creativity

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’   
Pablo Picasso

(Read this post in Hungarian here./Ezt a posztot itt olvashatod magyarul.)

Believe it or not, we are all born creative. You, me, your neighbours, even your boss was born that way. Children are the most imaginative and intuitive creatures on earth: using their fantasy is just as natural for them as breathing. That’s how a desk becomes a floating fortress, a broom a laser sword, and the family-cat a saber-toothed tiger that can easily turn into a robot-dragon.

If this is how we all start off the question arises: where and when does creativity fade from our lives? Why do most people find their daily life dull and colourless? What happens to enthusiasm, spontaneity and the joy of creating things?

Yes, all these things vanish for most of us somewhere between our first day at school and graduation. In this system we learn quite fast that there is only one good answer to every question the teacher puts, that thinking independently is frowned upon, that if you don’t want to look stupid, you’d better not ask questions. It is from this monotonous, highly regulated world of school that, sooner or later, you will get into the realm of work that runs under basically the same rules.

Luckily it doesn’t mean that we can’t get creativity back into our lives if we want to. The little kid who we once were is still there — for some people just hiding under the surface, in others deeply buried under piles of ’serious grown-up stuff’ — who can’t wait to get invited back into our lives. When he or she is back we will be able to play, laugh and start to create again.


My child-self loves to draw and paint. Always did. Yet, there were six years in my life when I refused to do any of those things. This aversion towards fine arts started in the fourth grade of elementary school. We got a new arts teacher — let’s call him Mr John — who was determined to put a stop to fooling around with watercolors and turn the whole class into miniature Leonardo da Vincis. He told us in our very first class with him that we were not allowed to use paint or coloured pencils anymore, only lead. Then Mr John told us the only thing we were allowed to draw: cubes. To cheer up those kids who were looking longingly in the direction of the confiscated watercolors, he said that those who drew the cubes well enough would be allowed to draw cylinders. Mr John really didn’t know how to cheer up nine-year-olds.

Being a dutiful kid I quickly drew a cube the same way Mr John had shown us. When I was done with that I started to draw little animals and elves around my not-so-perfect-looking cube. Mr John was furious when he saw what I was doing. He grabbed my paper, showed it up in front of the whole class and counted all the flaws of my cube. Then he put the paper back onto my desk and told me to erase all the ’silliness’ and draw a proper cube.

This was when I rebelled for the very first time in my life. I refused to draw. Not in this class or the next one or at any time later. I felt like something was taken from me that I loved dearly. I felt I had been robbed. (I have no idea how I passed art class that year. I have some vague memory of taking an oral exam in art history.)

I did not draw again ’till I was about fifteen. It’s not like I felt bad about drawing or had nightmares with Mr John and cubes chasing me. I didn’t even think about drawing. It simply wasn’t part of my life anymore.


Then one day I was sitting in our kitchen and had one of those looong phone calls that only teenage girls are capable of, and without realizing what I was doing I picked up a pen from the table and started to draw on a piece of paper that happened to be lying there. It felt good, so when my friend and I finally hung up the phone I didn’t stop drawing. There was nothing at stake, no one was watching and I knew that I wouldn’t show my drawing to anyone. Not fearing the judgment of others the joy of creativity immediately came back into my life.

Next day I took my watercolors from the bottom of the drawer where I had kept them for six years. They were not in a good shape but I still had a lot of fun painting green cats and flying elephants. It was like I had found something in myself that seemed to be gone for good.

Not much later I felt like I should learn more about painting. I still had no fully articulated ambition regarding arts, I just wanted to learn some new techniques and get better at those I already knew. I enrolled in a casual painting course where everybody was allowed to draw or paint whatever they wanted (or could). Our teacher taught us things we actually asked for and experimenting with different techniques was encouraged. We were not pushed to create perfect pictures, it was absolutely okay to make mistakes and then try again if we felt like it. I absolutely adored it.

What have I learned from all this? Several things.

Firstly, that you don’t need to do something perfectly to enjoy it. Perfectionism and the fear that comes with it kills creativity.

Secondly, that it is okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are not failures but the means to improve. We can learn from them. If I can’t paint something the way I wanted to, it does not mean I can never paint it that way. It means that I’m trying — which is a great thing in itself — and that I need to try again and again until I’m finally happy with the outcome.


Thirdly, that intrinsic motivation is much, much stronger than the one forced on us by the expectations of others. If you enjoy doing something, sooner or later you will want to get better in it, will want to learn more about it, and maybe will even feel like you want to share your experiences and results with others.

Even though I’m not a good painter I’ve had a few exhibitions. Moreover, to my astonishment, I’ve sold some paintings.

Yet, I still cannot draw a regular cube.

(In the upcoming post I’m going to share some techniques that can help add more creativity to our lives.)