Oops! You Messed Up Big Time – 5 Tips to Improve a Bad First Impression

You’re late to a meeting – very late – and its  the first major meeting with your new job. Ugg.

You fumbled the ball when someone you need to impress asked you a key question, making you appear unprepared. Grrr.

You showed up to the job interview in a suit and heels and everyone else really meant it when they said ‘casual’, making you look stuffy. Aahh!

We’ve all been there, right? The ugly situation we can’t avoid or the accidental remark that appeared idiotic – so embarrassing!  Bad first impressions really feel bad and, let’s face it, they are bad for our careers, too.  “First impressions are very sticky,” writes Heidi Grant, author of ‘No One Understands You and What To Do About It.’ Ms. Grant’s book chronicles how people’s interactions are formed through real psychological biases, patterns, and impressions. Grant’s work suggests that people do notice a few things right up front, called the primacy effect, and that, combined with other information about a situation and our own biases, creates an impression in a millisecond. “People see what they expect to see,” Grant confirms. Not what you want to hear when you know you’ve made a faux pas. So, what do you do about a bad first impression? Can you ‘fix it’?

Take a read of these five tips and make your next move a little smoother.

5 Quick Rx Tips to Fix a Bad First Impression

One – Demonstrate Actions
If you flubbed up and looked less than extraordinary, make a regular effort immediately following the foul up to demonstrate your value or expertise. Being with someone and getting to know them can improve a bad impression, too.

Two – Don’t be a Repeat Offender!
An impression is just that – so don’t turn that initial dud move into something people believe about you as a rule. For example, if you were really late, never be late again, in fact be early and be helpful, too.  Over time when you behave differently, the initial problem should fade into the woodwork.

Three – Find Common Ground
I cannot tell you how many networking events I’ve attended where people (often after one too many free cocktails) create poor impressions based on senseless comments they never intended to nose-dive. If you do it, quickly find ways to right the buggy by finding common ground. Maybe its someone you know in common, maybe you both went to the same college; it can be anything, the idea is to endear yourself to the person as quickly as possible and move on.

Four – Apologize-if its necessary, of course!
If you’ve caused a problem or truly hurt someone’s feelings, nothing improves things like a sincere apology. However, don’t have to go crazy with this and send a cookie bouquet, a card, and flowers! Just apologize on the spot and a follow up sincere, short apology later perhaps via phone or by stopping by in person.

Five – Get Past It!
As they say, what’s done is done. Or let the sleeping dogs lie. Or –you get the point! If you have done at least a few of the above, its time to move on and if the person you offended can’t also do that, well, that’s his problem!

That’s it for this week! 
ACT Like A Pro Out There! 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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