7By Dennis J. Trittin

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”
~William Arthur Ward

Have you ever thought about what your smile—and your countenance in general, really—says about you? When I first meet someone, I look at their eyes (are they kind?) and their mouth (are they joyful?). I’m sure that judging a first impression based on eyes and smile might sound crazy to some, but actually, these cues are often spot on. They are great indicators of a person’s level of engagement with those around them. If the eyes and mouth don’t make a great first impression, it’s likely the rest of the person won’t either.

What impression do you give other people when they meet you for the first time? Your countenance matters, probably much more than you realize. Who knows, the person you just met could become a new friend, future spouse, future in-law, potential employment reference, manager, mentor, or client. The fact is, life is a series of chance moments with others, and you never know what might become of the people you meet.

There’s a wise saying: “You never get a second chance to make a good impression.” In fact, most employment recruiters will say that the first 30 seconds of an interview will make or break your chances! Yes, that’s 30 seconds! Unfortunately for some, it only takes five seconds!

One reason a smile matters so much is that it lifts the spirits of others. Another reason is that it can lift your own. Start each day by smiling at that great person you see in the mirror, and you’ll see what I mean!

In I’m Not Ashamed, Rachel Scott made it a habit of lifting the spirits of others because of her nature and her smile. What I particularly noticed was that no matter how hard life was treating her (and she had her struggles!), she wouldn’t let it bring others down. Natural “uplifters” have a way of doing that.

In order to master the art of relationship building, you’ll want to make a great first impression with everyone you meet. Here’s all it takes:
Demonstrate through your countenance, words, and body language that you’re happy to meet them
Give a firm, confident handshake and look them in the eye
Be positive and enthusiastic
Be inquisitive … show an interest in them and what they say
Remain engaged in the conversation and avoid distractions like calls and texts

Some people may say all the right things, do all the right things, yet wonder why others aren’t warming up. Often, it just comes down to countenance.

Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at http://www.dennistrittin.com.