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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

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation! Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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