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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 February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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