According to New York University, Graduate School of Business, people make 11 decisions about us in the first seven seconds of contact: (1) education level, (2) economic level, (3) perceived creditability and believability, (4) trustworthiness, (5) level of sophistication, (6) sexual identification, (7) level of success, (8) political background, (9) religious background, (10) ethnic background, (11) social and professional desirability.

The way we communicate also contributes to the first impression. Some leaders believe if they are stoic and "hard to read," it will give them a competitive advantage. However, we have recently learned through the tragic premature death of Tim Russert that authenticity matters more. If you are open and self-disclosing, you have a greater chance for credibility.

If you are not sure how you are communicating, ask a spouse, friend or co-worker to give you candid feedback. Use the following criteria:

1. Are you other oriented or self-oriented?

2. Do you dominate conversations or is there an easy exchange of dialogue?

3. Do you keep the conversation positive and optimistic or do you lean toward the negative and pessimistic?

4. Are you empathetic and genuinely interested in others?

5. Are you up on current events and an interesting conversationalist?

6. Are you expressive in your dialogue or do you speak in a monotone?

7. Do you get to the point or do you over-explain, belabor points and lecture?

8. Do you draw people out or sweat through long, uncomfortable silences?

9. Do you use open-ended questions often beginning with "How? or What?" or do you use closed questions often begin with "Do you…?"

10. Ask yourself what sort of impression you make in the first seven seconds of contact. Are you aware of the verbal and non-verbal signals you send to others?

Fortunately or unfortunately, perception is everything! You want the first seven seconds of contact to be positive. Those seven seconds may change the rest of your life.

Author's Bio: 

Jane received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts from The Ohio State University. She has done doctoral work at the University of South Florida and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, Wright State University, Sinclair Community College and Antioch University McGregor. She also served as the Associate Director of the Antioch University McGregor Organizational Institute.

The author of seven books, she uses both the podium and paper to promote personal and professional excellence. Her best seller, How To Love the Job You Hate, has been endorsed by Dr. Kenneth Blanchard, respected author of the best seller, The One Minute Manager. She has been interviewed and profiled by Forbes and The New York Times. She is also a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist appearing in business journals throughout the country.

Jane worked with at-risk youth before going into her professional speaking career. This high-powered Fortune 500 professional speaker, corporate trainer, Certified Mediator and consultant tells it like it is with organizations such as: the United States Senate, USDA, Department of the Navy, United States Air Force, FDIC, Merrill Lynch, General Motors, Toyota, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), IBM, NCR, International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals (IAHMP) and Prudential of Europe. She has received praise from such notables as Senator Orrin Hatch and has shared the platform with General Norman Schwarzkopf, Bernard Siegel, M.D. and Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn. Not shy with the media, she has been on more than 1,000 radio and television programs, including CNBC, CBN and CNN.

She is one of the most dynamic women on the speaking circuit today. The National Speakers Association awarded the CSP designation to Jane. Fewer than 8% of all professional speakers hold this distinction.