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How to Undo Bad First Impressions (You Don’t Need a Time Machine to Do So!)

How to Undo Bad First Impressions (You Don’t Need a Time Machine to Do So!)

Ah, first impressions. The one thing we can all agree to be nerve-racking. Whether meeting your significant other’s best friend or your potential new boss, we all have experienced the desire to give an excellent first impression. And undoubtedly, we have all experienced the disappointment that comes from failing to do so.

We all know the basics of an introduction. If it’s for a job, you stay true to yourself while also being extremely professional and confident. If it’s to meet someone in your social life, you may want to appear witty and confidant (without trying too hard). But when you have an off day, or just don’t know how to ace the first impression to begin with…what do you do?

First impressions can be very influential

While it can feel embarrassing to miss the mark of a good first impression, depending on the situation, it can also come with some pretty serious consequences. For instance, if the poor first impression happened in an important job interview, you definitely won’t be getting an offer. It doesn’t matter to the company that you know you were having an off day and you know you would be perfect for the position.

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If you miss the shot, here’s what you should do to bounce back

Even though giving a bad first impression can feel like the end of the world, there are things you can do to reverse the negative outcome and give the impression you meant to all along. The following tips should be studied and kept in the back of your mind for use at any given moment.

Decide if it needs a do-over at all

When we feel like someone didn’t see us for the real us or generally wasn’t too fond of us, we can be tempted to go out of our way to change their impression. But sometimes it’s not worth worrying about in the first place. So before you put your foot in your mouth trying to convince someone they should really like you or give you a second chance, assess the situation once you’ve calmed down and see if it’s worth the stress. [1]

Stick to them like glue

If you want someone to pay attention to you, regardless of their first impression of you, it’s important to create situations where the person relies on you to help them succeed. Identify opportunities for collaboration, even if you feel a little awkward. Psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson says, “It’s natural to shy away from people who don’t think highly of you. But you need to fight that instinct and instead stick to them like glue if you hope to correct their misperceptions.”

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Remind them of the importance of fairness

This tip is a little gutsy, but if you do it right, you’ll have a second chance in no time. A recent study found when people aspire to fairness, or have even been asked to consider it, they tend to inhibit some biases like gender stereotypes. To use this in your favor, comment on how the ability to judge someone accurately is a key skill for everyone to have. The subtle comment causes the listener to consider whether or not they have misjudged you.[2]

Apologize, but don’t over-apologize

If you know exactly why you didn’t come across as your usual charming self, accept it and be honest about it. Simply apologize for the misstep and move on. But don’t feel the need to suddenly apologize profusely. It can make the person you’re apologizing to feel they need to constantly reassure you. And no one likes that.

Recover quickly

When it comes to making up for a bad first impression, a great action to take is to turn right around and show a different side of your personality that’s a little easier to like. If you made a joke that wound up being a little off-color, then recover by demonstrating sincerity. Or if you tried to seem sincere and it came off a little fake, demonstrate compassion.[3]

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Be aware of how you are perceived

Self-awareness is key to success, no matter what we’re talking about. But when it comes to first impressions, it’s just as important. If you are a very shy person, and you know that about yourself, be aware of how it could seem to people who are judging you for the first time. In social situations, it could make you seem cold, even thought you’re actually incredibly uncomfortable. So change up your body language to appear more open, no matter how quiet you may be, and don’t be afraid to ask easy questions like, “where are you from?,” “what do you do for a living?,” etc..[4]

Wait it out, look for the best time to explain yourself

Timing is key. When it comes to wanting to undo a bad first impression, you may be overzealous in your attempt to fix the problem. However, that could make it look like you’re coming off too strong or you’re a pushy person. Instead, wait it out. One of my very best friends started out as someone I couldn’t stand. My first impression of her was that she was whiney and entitled. About a year later, we met again under different circumstances and began chatting. She was able to explain to me what was going on in her life that led me to have that impression of her, and it gave us the opportunity to talk without any bias. We’re so close in fact, that she’s one of my bridesmaids. But if she had been too pushy about making sure I liked her right after we first met, I probably wouldn’t have given her the time of day.[5]

Give them new context about your life

In 2015, a study conducted by Cornell University found it was possible to change someone’s impression of you just by giving information that puts your actions in a new light. The study involved telling participants about a man who broke into a house and took precious objects. Obviously the participants disliked the man. Even when told the same man had once saved a baby’s life, the participants judged him still. However, the precious items the man took were two children, and he broke into the home because it was burning down! Changing the context completely changed the perception the participants had on the man. So if you can find a way to show your initial actions were well-intentioned, you can usually change that bad first impression to a good one.

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So what do you think? Do you feel more capable of ensuring that person you just met likes you? Perception is so important, but it’s often hard to read. So remember to assess the situation thoroughly before going out of you way to redo the initial impression. After all, that’s your first impression of the other person, too; they may feel just as embarrassed as you do!

So be self-aware and know when to take action and when to let things go for a while. Sometimes second chances occur naturally, and other times you need to work for them. No matter which it is, remember the tips in this article and you’re sure to leave a great impression next time.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel.com via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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