You only get one chance to make a first impression.
That’s a stressful notion, right?
Being certain that you’re sending the right message the second you meet someone isn’t always easy. Fortunately, being aware of some common mistakes—and then doing your best to stay away from them—can boost your chances of starting things off on the right foot.
But, what blunders do you need to watch out for? Keep an eye out for these four prevalent communication mistakes, and you’re much more likely to make a great first impression.
1. Talking Too Much About Yourself
If you’ve ever shaken hands with someone only to have them launch into a seemingly endless monologue about their hopes, dreams, skills, and accomplishments, you already know what a big turnoff that can be.
However, it’s an easy trap to fall into—particularly when you feel a pressing need to sell yourself and elevate your professional reputation.
While there’s nothing wrong with talking about yourself (it’s necessary!), make sure you don’t overwhelm the conversation with self-centered chatter. You need to ask questions of the other person, too.
Related: 3 Ways to Destroy a First Impression
2. Not Talking About Yourself Enough
Wait, what? I just said that talking about yourself too much was a common faux pas. So, how can the opposite be true?
Well, you don’t want to make the other person do all of the legwork in your conversation. If he or she is asking you questions and you’re only responding with one-word answers, it’s going to be hard to keep that ball rolling.
As tough as it might seem, try to strike that balance between talking about yourself too little and talking about yourself too much. Practice it if you need to! Finding that middle ground will allow you to tout your skills and achievements, without making you seem completely self-absorbed.
3. Airing Too Many Complaints
It’s tempting to start a conversation with a complaint. The weather has been awful, the room is too crowded, or the free appetizers are terrible. It seems like an easy way to find some common ground with that new person that you’re meeting.
However, fostering a reputation as someone who can always find something to complain about likely isn’t what you’re trying to accomplish. And, even further, commiserating isn’t a great way to start a relationship, no matter how much it might feel like a good place to start.
Resist the urge to air all of your grievances and instead keep things positive. It’s bound to lead to a much better conversation and reputation.
4. Getting Too Personal
You don’t want to be strictly business, so you think sharing a few personal details is an effective way to establish some more friendly rapport. And, yes, that can be true in some cases!
But, don’t make the mistake of getting too personal too quickly. Talking about a favorite television show or your recent vacation? That can be a positive way to solidify a bond!
Going on about your nasty divorce or how hungover you are from the night before? Not so much.
You know your first impression matters. But, setting a great one isn’t always so easy. Make sure you stay far, far away from these four common communication mistakes, and you’re sure to set the right tone from the get-go!
This article was originally published on Inc. It has been republished here with permission.