Making gentlemanly first impressions

Making gentlemanly first impressions

Two minutes, 30 Seconds, 7 Seconds, 1 second? Gentlemen, How long do you have to make that first impression? It is actually less than that, according to a pair of Princeton Professor Alexander Todorov, it’s is 1/10th of one second.

That is nothing, it is a snap of the fingers, nothing more. You are basing your initial opinion of someone on the way that person looks, the way that they are dressed and the way they hold themselves. You have not even uttered a word and a judgement has been made.

This is due to our Limbic brain, which is our animal instinctive unconscious part of our mental facilities. It is making a simple basic animal distinction that all animals make, Freeze, Flee, Fight. It is making choices about whether we are under threat and what the next step should be.

Also once our brain has made that judgement about that person, it is quickly reinforced and very difficult to change, Therefore, let me briefly go through some key elements and give you some tips to and advice to help make that first impression count in your favour.

The Way you Look

No, I am not advocating because you are unhappy with your nose this means plastic surgery. You can’t help the way you look and each person is special & unique. What you can do is make the best of what you have. Though eating healthier and exercising more is never going to do anything but help!

Keep it simple: be clean, be neat, be presentable.

Gentlemen, let us start from the top. Your hair, make sure it’s clean & presentable. Do make sure you have regular Haircut. Clean Shaven men, use a good razor with great products to make sure you have good smooth shave, it might be wise to take a lesson with a top barber. Your skin will thank you. If you do have stubble or facial hair make sure it looks tidy.

Always use a moisturiser, as your face is what is a main part of making that impression, you want to have great healthy looking skin.

Finally, put a smile on your face. Not a stupid grin, you don’t want to come across as crazy but a gentle smile will make you more approachable.

The Way you Dress

This is a huge factor in the first impressions people have of you. Clothes are a code that we present to the world to tell the world about us. In simplistic terms if you see a person in a white cotton ¾ length coat, you think medical person; you see someone in a dark blue uniform with a hat you think police officer.

What image & code is your clothing presenting to the world. That you are practical; that you don’t care; that you follow fashion; that you love labels; Everything you wear tells a story about how you feel about yourself and as a message to the world.

Let’s face it most Gentlemen are lazy, they don’t actually put that much thought into the clothes that they wear. If you are here reading this, then you are probably one of those men that do. Even so, time to step it up a notch or two. You want to stand out rather than blend in.

One final thing, don’t neglect the shoes. You can ruin that three pieced suit with a scruffy pair of shoes. You would be surprised how often people notice your shoes and they tell a lot about a person.

The Way you Hold Yourself

Are you the type that walks with your shoulders slumped forward, shuffling your feet? You are not doing yourself any favours.

Everything from the way you walk to the way you hold yourself conveys a further message. To help build that amazing first impression, you need to have the body language & movement of a confident person but not overly so.

How to do it? Simple, Stand up tall, push your shoulders back and keep your chin up. Look people in the face & in the eyes. Though don’t stare too deep into there eyes that might get you into trouble.

If you struggle with confidence then please do watch the amazing TED talk by Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy about ‘Power Poses’ and how our body posture can effect the levels of our confidence:

One final thing about this is don’t be lazy, Gwen Stefani discussed once in an interview that I read, why she always got dressed properly put full make-up when she left the house she said ‘I never know when I will meet a fan and they deserve to meet that me’. (I am paraphrasing). The thing is you never know who you are going to meet next: the love of your life? Your next boss? An Investor in your business? A client?  The list is endless.

Think about that when you get dressed & ready in the morning.

The adage, “Don’t judge a book by It’s cover” though is morally true and one should not, unfortunately we do this as part of the animals we are. Therefore if you do want to make a sterling first impression it is wise to use everything to your advantage, so the first thing our limbic brain thinks is...Gentleman.


About the author

Zach Falconer-Barfield

Zach is referred to as the Gentlemen Entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of the media & education company ‘The Perfect Gentleman’. He is about to embark on new ventures including a Facebook Live cookery show and writing a new book about Entrepreneurship.

Diagnosed with severe asthma at 3 months old, he spent over 50% of his early life either in hospital or bedridden. He knew then he would not have a conventional career and after working in and managing his family's restaurants, he trained as an actor at a prestigious London theatre school. He left his acting dreams behind to found his 1st company at 19 and never looked back.

Since then he has ridden the entrepreneurial roller coaster personally founding over 10 companies and being involved in the founding teams or early stages of a further 20 other companies. He has covered such diverse fields as Construction, Hospitality, Security, Entertainment and Events.

He is an author, consultant and lecturer. He is also involved as a Non-Executive Director and Advisor to a number of companies. He also has an MBA from Cass Business School

Apart from his professional ventures, he is a volunteer with the Prince's Trust.

To find out more please visit

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