You only get one brief chance to make a good first impression -- about two seconds, actually. It's because -- like it or not -- human beings make snap judgments about the people they meet for the first time. If you believe that premise, it follows that you'll take steps to avoid some remarkably common ways people unknowingly sabotage how they're perceived by others. Take it from Liz Graham, vice president of sales and service for online home store Wayfair, who says she's been around the world of business long enough to have noticed the kinds of behaviors that stick in her mind, and not in a positive way. Here are her words about the things you should definitely avoid doing:

1. Killing time on your phone.

It's tempting to kill time before a meeting or interview by being head-down in your phone, but you miss the opportunity to be present and make eye contact when someone walks into the room. Instead, spend your time focusing your thoughts and observe what's going on around you.

2. Not silencing devices (including smartwatches).

It's incredibly distracting to anyone you're meeting and suggests that your alerts are more important than the person you're with.

3. Not asking interesting questions.

It's helpful to have some conversation starters to break the ice, but go beyond the obvious and find some more unique and informed questions to ask. If you're at a conference, you can often research companies and attendees in advance and scout out relevant topics to discuss. I was asked once what new thing I learned that day...I thought it was an excellent question and a great opportunity to reflect on what had happened in my day.

4. Being even one minute late.

Being on time signals reliability, respect for others, and trustworthiness. If you're looking to make a great first impression, leave yourself a little extra time for traffic, meetings running long, or other unpredictable events.

What kinds of things turn you off when you meet someone new? Sound off in the comments.

Published on: Dec 15, 2016
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