11 Signs You're Making A Bad First Impression & How To Fix The Problem
Meeting new people is equal parts fun and terrifying. It's great making new friends and business contacts, but often times that situation is riddled with hand-wringing and second-guessing. While most of the time it's in your head, there are signs you're making a bad impression. These signs are something you should become familiar with so you can catch yourself in the process of falling off course, and turn the whole situation around. While there are obvious no-nos when meeting someone new (like asking what they think about Trump or asking them about their last breakup), there are some less known slights that put people off.
But the great thing about them is that they're all easily remediable! All it takes is putting in a little extra effort. So do you want to charm the socks off your next date, ditch your wallflower tendencies at your next dinner party, or make a stellar of an impression at the next networking event? You've got it in you to do it — you'll never have to face another lackluster first impression again. Below are 11 common first impression mistakes and tips on how to fix them. Get ready to shine at your next event.
1. You Talked More Than You Listened
If you're dominating the conversation during your first meet-up, chances are you're not leaving the best impression. I know that when someone's concerned about making a great first impression, they worry about what they're going to say. But the truth is, those that listen more than they talk make the biggest impacts. Social intelligence researcher Vanessa Van Petten at Forbes advised, "When you are meeting people for the first time approach others with a genuine interest in who they are. This is often contagious and you will have better conversations and lasting connections when you are interested because they become interested." Listening shows that you're very much interested.
2. You Didn't Show Them You Thought They Were Interesting
People tend to not click because they think they're not important to each other. Think of the people that made you feel inferior or boring when you talked to them: Chances are you wanted to kick them in the shin and then walk away with a "hmmph." Avoid making that mistake by visually showing them you think they're interesting and worth the time spent chatting. Career writer Jeff Haden from career-development site The Muse offered, "Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond — not so much verbally, but nonverbally. That’s all it takes to show the other person he or she is important." Easy, right?
3. You Didn't Do Your Research
Whether it's a business conference, Tinder date, or dinner party, a great way to make a first impression is to do your research on the people you'll be meeting. Lifestyle writer Jenna Arak from lifestyle site The Everygirl pointed out, "If you have people’s names ahead of time, use them! We both know the Internet is fantastic for digging up information on just about anyone. And if you don’t have names, ask for more information from those you do know — like a mutual friend, a host, or even a LinkedIn connection." Get familiar with the accomplishments of people at your event, ask your friend about a couple of strangers that are coming to her shindig, and skim the profile of your date before you walk into the bar. It'll let them know you care to connect.
4. You Weren't On Time
You might not think it's a big deal that you stroll into the coffee shop five minutes late, but all it says to the person is "Sorry I'm late, I didn't want to be here." And that's no way to start off your interactions. Business writer Peter Economy at entrepreneur site Inc explained, "Nothing shoots you down faster than being late for an initial appointment or meeting — even just a minute or two. Always give yourself more than enough time, allowing for traffic delays or parking hassle." It's better to be ridiculously early than stress out about being late.
5. You Didn't Throw Praise Like Confetti
You don't need to be a suck-up, but if the person you're talking with is dropping accomplishments and you're doing nothing with them, then you're not doing your part. Snatch up those experiences and let them know how amazing they are for succeeding in them. Haden explained, "And then they’ll feel a little more accomplished and a lot more important, and they’ll love you for making them feel that way." Who doesn't like being recognized?
6. You Didn't Set An Intention
When you set an intention for your event, you set the tone on how you want to sound or come across. By forgetting to do that, you come in without a battle plan. Van Petten recommended, "As you get ready or when you are driving over think about what kind of people you want to meet and what kind of interactions you want to have. This can be an incredibly grounding experience and works very well to focus on what kind of energy you want to have for your event." It can bolster you to be more energetic, professional, flirty, or whatever you need to be.
7. You Forgot To Make Them Comfortable
You're not the only person on the planet that feels nervous meeting someone new. Instead of focusing on how you might be tanking, tune into the fact the other person is feeling the same and go out of your way to make them more at ease. Economy suggested, "see what you can do to make the other person more comfortable — if they're comfortable, you will be more comfortable." Not only will you calm your own jitters, but the person will remember you as kind and down to earth.
8. You Didn't Smile
If you're somewhere formal or buisness-y, it can sometimes be hard to remember to look like you're enjoying yourself. Especially if you're nervous! But forgetting to smile every once in awhile makes a negative first impression for just that reason: It looks like you're pained over being there. Arak advised, "It helps to make a good impression when those you meet believe that you’re a generally friendly and easy-to-get-along-with human being. Smiling helps with this." Whether if you're at a date or a networking event, let that dazzling smile loose.
9. You Got Distracted Too Much
If you're looking around the room, glancing at the TV behind their head, or peeking at your phone every now and then, you're crash and burning. Even a slight glance at another person throws off the conversation and makes the person you're talking with feel uninteresting or like they're keeping you. Don't do that. Haden advised, "Give the gift of your full attention. That’s a gift few people give. That gift alone will make others want to be around you and remember you." It's simple but ridiculously effective.
10. You Didn't Believe In Yourself
When we're busy trying to impress other people, we might have a tendency to forget we're worth getting to know, too, which only leads you to under-sell yourself. So instead of thinking of how you're below this person, keep in mind that they need to impress you, too. Economy explained, "Remember that most people are just as uncomfortable or anxious as you are during a first meeting. Tell yourself that you are good enough." You've got just as many stories, skills, and winning qualities as they do. Don't sell yourself short.
11. You Didn't Follow Up
It doesn't matter if this was a business coffee date or a person you met at a dinner party, a follow up is always appreciated and improves your first impression ten-fold. Arak recommended, "Thank them for meeting with you, mention something that stood out to you in your conversation, or share a link or a contact they might be interested in." Not only do they now know you were paying attention and enjoyed your conversation, but you've opened the door for future contact. And that's awesome.
So the next time you have a date or a big conference, keep these tips in mind and charm the socks off the people you meet. It'll be a total snap!
Images: Isla Murray/Bustle