It’s hard to make a good first impression. You only get one chance to make a lasting impression, and if you blow it, you might not get a second chance.
Most people are aware of this, and so they go out of their way to make sure they come across in the best possible light. But what happens when you do everything “right” and still end up with a negative first impression?
- What to do if you get a bad first impression
- How long does it take to reverse a bad first impression?
- What causes a bad first impression?
What to do if you get a bad first impression
It only takes a few seconds to form a first impression—and unfortunately, those first impressions are often based on looks alone. If you’re physically attractive, people are more likely to believe that you’re also competent and likable. On the other hand, if you’re not so easy on the eyes, you may have to work a little harder to make a good impression.
While appearance is important, it isn’t the only thing people notice about you when you first meet them, and it certainly isn’t the only thing that matters.
But don’t despair—it is possible to reverse a bad first impression. One study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second for people to start forming judgments about others, but it takes five minutes of interaction for those judgments to become more nuanced and accurate.
So if you find yourself in a situation where you didn’t make the best first impression, take heart—you have time to turn things around.
Let’s go over some specific tips for how to reverse a bad first impression.
How long does it take to reverse a bad first impression?
It only takes a split second to make a first impression, but that doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. It’s been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This may be true in some cases, but it’s also important to remember that first impressions are not always accurate.
If you’ve ever met someone and immediately thought they were cold and unfriendly, only to later find out that they’re actually quite warm and friendly, then you know how easy it is to misjudge someone.
The good news is that it’s just as easy to reverse a bad first impression. In most cases, it simply takes a little time and effort. You can correct a negative first impression, which may take anything from one minute to a day depending on your circumstances.
Here’s a timeline for how to turn a negative first impression into a positive one:
Within the first minute: Smile and make eye contact. These are simple yet powerful gestures that will instantly make you seem more approachable.
Within the first five minutes: Try to find common ground. If you can swiftly establish a shared interest or experience, it will go a long way towards building rapport.
Within the first ten minutes: Seek out opportunities to be of service. Whether it’s offering to help with a heavy load or lending an ear for a couple of minutes, acts of kindness go a long way in changing how people perceive you.
Over the next few days: Follow up with a thoughtful gesture or message. A handwritten note or small gift can show that you were paying attention and that you truly care about making a good impression.
With a little time and effort, it’s usually not difficult to redeem yourself after a less-than-stellar first meeting.
By following the steps above, you can increase the chances that your next encounter will be much more positive.
What causes a bad first impression?
A bad first impression can be caused by a number of things.
Maybe you were nervous, or maybe you were trying too hard to be someone you’re not. Or maybe the other person was just having a bad day. Whatever the reason, a bad first impression can make it hard to get to know someone.
Here are a few examples of things that could make a poor first impression:
- Poor hygiene
- Sloppy dress
- Lack of confidence
- Talking too much or too little
- Badmouthing others
- Being late
- Not being prepared
- Rolling your eyes
- Interrupting others
- Crossed arms or legs
- Unnatural posture
- Failure to make eye contact
- Not smiling
- Jokes that fall flat
- Personal questions that are too invasive
- Talking about sensitive topics (like religion or politics)
These are just a few of the things that can cause a bad first impression. It’s important to be aware of them so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
But don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of making a good first impression.
How to make a good first impression
First, try to relax and be yourself. Second, pay attention to your body language and make sure you’re conveying the right message.
Here are some good first impression tips:
- Stand up straight and make eye contact.
- Smile and use an appropriate tone of voice.
- Introduce yourself and shake hands.
- Be a good listener and ask questions about the other person.
- Try to find common ground.
- Don’t talk about controversial topics or make offensive jokes.
- Be aware of your nonverbal cues and make sure they’re positive.
- If you’re not sure what to say, ask open-ended questions.
- Follow up after the meeting to thank the other person for their time.
By following these tips, you can improve your chances of making a good first impression. Just remember that it’s not always possible to control everything, so don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go perfectly.
Final thoughts about reversing a bad first impression you made
It’s not uncommon to have a first meeting where everything goes wrong. Maybe you said the wrong thing, maybe you were late, or maybe you just didn’t click with the person. Whatever the case may be, don’t despair! There are always ways to recover from a bad first impression.
First, take a step back and analyze what went wrong. Were you nervous? Did you say something that came across as arrogant? Once you know what the problem was, you can take steps to correct it.
Second, reach out to the person and apologize. Explain that you had a bad day or that you’re usually not like that.
Finally, try to connect with the person on a deeper level. Find some common ground, ask follow-up questions, and really listen to what they’re saying. By taking these steps, you can turn a bad first impression into a strong relationship.
Go out and put your best foot forward!