9 Ways to Make a Terrible First Impression

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Whether you are interviewing for a job or hoping to get a date, first impressions are a really big deal. They are important because they are lasting. First impressions are sometimes incredibly difficulty to overcome.

This stickiness is good and bad news. If you make a good impression, it can put you in a favorable light for some time. But if you make a bad impression, significant work must be done to overcome the tainted image that has been created.

How does someone make a really bad first impression? Well, there are many ways. I have noted nine of them.

Here are nine ways to make a terrible first impression:

  1. Wait for them to approach you. Instead, go to them. Make them feel like they are the important ones in the room.
  1. Make your handshake at weak as possible (or as strong as possible). Instead, grip according to their grip. This communicates equality and makes the other person feel more comfortable. A weak handshake can indicate a lack of confidence and authority. It is also just awkward. An overly strong handshake can communicate a domineering personality.
  1. Avoid eye contact. Instead, look at their eyes. This not only communicates confidence, but it also demonstrates that you are paying attention to them. Just be sure to blink. It is not a staring contest.
  1. Don’t use the other person’s name. Instead, use their name regularly. Everyone likes to hear their own name. According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friend and Influence People, a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Using their name will also help you remember their name later.
  1. Talk about your successes a lot. Instead, ask about their successes, or pick their brain about certain topics. Let them talk about themselves and their opinions. Frequently start your sentences with “Tell me about…”
  1. Act bored when they talk. Instead, show interest. One of the best ways to demonstrate interest is to ask questions. Remember—“Tell me about…”
  1. Whenever possible, vehemently disagree with them. Instead, avoid confrontation until they get to know you. Certainly, there is a time and place for debate. But the first time you meet someone is usually not it.
  1. Don’t crack a smile. Instead, show those pearly whites. Have you ever noticed how you naturally want to smile when someone smiles at you? Smiling at someone can influence how he or she feels in that moment. Smiling also communicates confidence and likeability. So make the other person feel better and demonstrate likeability by smiling. Just make sure it is a genuine, natural smile. Forced smiles give you the weird, Cheshire Cat look.
  1. Don’t say goodbye. Just drop the mic and leave. Instead, thank them for their time and tell them you look forward to talking to/seeing them again. Don’t ruin a good meeting with a bad exit. Be conscientious form beginning to end.

The key to making a great first impression is this—treat others like you want to be treated. Whether you are interviewing, meeting the in-laws, or networking, do not miss out on an excellent opportunity to leave a positive imprint in the mind of those you meet. You only get one shot at a first impression. This is the time to put your best foot forward.

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3 thoughts on “9 Ways to Make a Terrible First Impression

  1. While I think that these are excellent helps…I do have a question about the “tweet” that appears in the middle of the blog…you state “treat others the way you want to be treated”–as an introvert–how I want to be treated is to be LEFT ALONE…the interaction is probably forced anyway–but in most cases leaving someone alone is not an option–there must be some reason that we find ourselves in the situation–are there strategies that allow for “making the best of a bad situation?” Because we want to do better…it is just a struggle because of our personality types.

    • This made me smile. I can imagine my dad, an introvert, saying the exact same thing. And it is a great question, Dave. Of course, that statement means we are to be them-focused. Your goal is to read them and make them feel respected and comfortable. So if you are an introvert, you may have to go out of your comfort zone to make them feel respected and comfortable by increasing your preferred level of interaction. Likewise, an extreme extrovert may have to go out of their comfort zone and decrease their preferred level of interaction to make the other person feel respected and comfortable, especially if they notice they are dealing with an introvert like yourself. Most of us will find ourselves adjusting at some level when trying to be them-focused.

  2. This is awesome!. Thank you Art. Like my Mother always told us, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!”. Thank you! I’m going to send this to my children.
    God bless your ministry!