UCL News


Your personal development: making a personal impact

17 February 2016

When people are asked what constitutes personal impact, they often state elements such as clothes, stature, smile and grooming etc.

Personal impact While we would agree that these are valid components of personal impact and all play their part, the obvious and important emphasis on first impressions has perhaps obscured the more important issue, and that is of lasting impressions. 

We've probably all had the experience of coming away from meeting someone and feeling somewhat uplifted and enlivened. We often attribute the success of the encounter to the other person - they made an impact on us, a favourable impression. We may even go further and say the person has something special - 'Is it charisma?' we wonder. 

We believe it is more than just one quality. It is about a relationship. What the person has is the ability to engage us in a relationship where something special can occur. That is why we put it as much down to chemistry as to charisma.

Tips not tricks

Beware of the people who tell you "there's a trick to it!" If the answers were that simple, everyone would be doing it. The reality is, there's a complex mix that allows a person to make the impact they want. Here are some ideas and tips; but there are no rules, because every human being is different.

  • Know what you want: be clear what the purpose of any encounter is. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you would like to achieve by the end of the conversation. And think about what's in it for the other person as well. See if you can satisfy both needs.
  • Preparation: the most important thing to do if you want to present yourself well is to rehearse. Make sure you've thought about it in advance, structured your material, worked out what you want to say, practised it out loud, taken care to produce any back-up literature to take with you and, most importantly, prepared yourself, so that you are relaxed, focused, energetic, sensitive and self-expressive.
  • Dress appropriately: don't let your appearance get in the way of building a constructive relationship with others. Dress with: care, so that you demonstrate you value yourself; with flair, so that you fully express yourself; yet be aware of what is appropriate to the situation: care, flair, yet aware. 
  • Personal feedback: get some feedback from friends on how you come across. You are always the arbiter as to what is useful and what isn't. But, if there is a unanimity of opinion that you would be more effective if you changed something about your appearance, manner or delivery, it might be worth paying attention.
  • Relationship: making an impact is all about building relationships with others. First impressions are important, but lasting impressions are vital. And these come from both parties feeling they've really met. This demands an ability to get on with a wide range of people. So, don't bother judging or condemning others - be curious about them instead.
  • Build rapport: make sure your attention is on other people, rather than on yourself. Be a 'magnet' and attract their attention. How? Gain attention by being attentive, become interesting by being interested, be understood by seeking to understand, and make an impact by being ready to respond.
  • Chemistry: create the right mix of ingredients with others so that something special can happen. Respond creatively to their ideas and suggestions. See if you can leave the conversation having produced something new between you.
  • Be yourself: most important of all, don't try and be anyone else. Express your own distinctive mix of qualities that are authentically you.

This article has been provided by Maynard Leigh Associates. Maynard Leigh Associates is a UK consultancy specialising in enhancing communication skills and building interpersonal relationships. In collaboration with Maynard Leigh, we will be providing a short series of articles seeking to provide a clearer understanding of communicating effectively and building positive relationships with new people.

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