Bad impressions are a hard thing to overcome.
Whether you make a bad impression socially or on your career path, it can change the course of your life. In the long (and short!) run bad impressions can cost you A LOT of money. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk all about ways to make a good impression so you can make the most of all your connections, and never miss an opportunity.
Here are some examples of bad impressions that you can avoid to prevent a faux pas (and potential failure):
1. You’re Late for a Very Important Date
It is always bad form to be late for a set appointment. A job interview, client meeting, or doctor’s appointment is scheduled at a certain time for a reason. By being late, you are showing a lack of respect for everyone else’s time. (If getting to work on time is a trouble area for you then read: 19 Ways to Get to Work on Time (and Generally be Better at Your Job).
2. Dressing for Un-Success
If you are underdressed for the occasion, you may be inadvertently communicating that you don’t care. While your appearance is only one factor, it indeed influences how you are perceived by others. Find out what style of dress you should be wearing by doing some research. When in doubt, be sure your clothing is clean, pressed, and presentable. (Check out: How to Wear One Look a Zillion Different Ways)
3. You Are Annoying
You may be up for a new job, and you’re excited, waiting for the offer. But there is protocol that needs to be followed—which doesn’t include incessant calling. A follow-up phone call can be appropriate in many cases, but calling to the point of irritation is inexcusable. (If you’re not sure how you stack up on the ol’ annoying scale at work take this quiz: How Annoying of a Co-Worker are You?)
4. Failure to Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact won’t always provide a warm and fuzzy feeling, but if you’re meeting someone for the first time, you should establish some level of eye contact. Staring at your shoes gives the impression you are not paying attention, not interested in what’s going on, or that you’re socially awkward.
5. Using Your Cell Phone
Using a cell phone at inappropriate times and places is a huge source of frustration for many. When in a meeting, an interview, or other appointment, make certain your cell phone is shut off. (Don’t even think of answering it or sending a text.)
6. Poor Social Skills
Before meeting someone important, brush up on your social skills. Research a few things to talk about so you can let your personality come through. Be ready to ask questions. It’s fine to be nervous, but if social anxiety shuts you down completely, find appropriate relaxation methods to practice ahead of time.
7. Lack of Research
Interviewing at a company or meeting with a new client you know absolutely nothing about doesn’t look good. Company websites and social media are both great starting points. Do your homework so you have a basic understanding of the types of questions you should ask and what you need to focus on to excel in the job.
8. You’re Too Loud
It’s one thing to be boisterous amongst friends, but not minding your volume can be misinterpreted. Practice in the mirror if you have to prior to your meeting to adjust as needed. Ask your close friends or family for their perspectives on how you talk.
9. You Forget to Smile
It’s one thing to be business-oriented and serious, but if you can’t smile, you may be losing points. Don’t be afraid to offer a smile and be friendly and approachable.
10. You Are Terrible with Names
When meeting new people, it is important to keep their names in mind. Calling someone by the wrong name or forgetting a name entirely can exude a bad vibe, and it can make the person whose name you slipped up on feel like they don’t matter to you. Try using a memory tactic to help you recall names and faces (such as using a person’s name a few times in your initial conversation to help it stick or associating an item with the same 1st letter as their name to them. For example, Apple Anna or Tortilla Tony.).
11. Being Conceited
If you are the only thing you talk about, people can lose interest pretty quickly. It’s fine to highlight your best points, especially in a job interview, but be sure that you have other things to talk about, and be ready to listen when others are speaking. (Tip: The best thing you can do is to ask questions about the other person. People LOVE talking about themselves. They don’t even realize they talked about themselves, and they’ll just think YOU are super interesting. Weird how that works, huh!)
12. Showing Up Unprepared
If you were asked to bring certain things to a meeting and show up empty-handed, your reliability will come into question quickly.
13. You Lack Writing Skills
The ability to correspond with someone using proper grammar and spelling does matter. It shows you pay attention to detail. Using slang and shortcuts in emails, on your resume, or in your cover letter can make you look unprofessional. U gotta b a pro. K.
14. You Tend to Overcommit
It’s fine to be busy but if you constantly overbook your time, you will look unreliable and unprofessional. It is not terribly difficult to keep a small appointment book with you at all times to ensure that you can handle the commitments you are making. I totally get over-committing because as my obligations and responsibilities have grown there have been some “growing pains” along the way. However, I’ve learned that once you notice that you’re having a hard time keeping up with your obligations if you can just tell the people who are waiting on you that you haven’t forgotten them, and that you need a little more time it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. If you leave people hanging it makes them feel unimportant, and that’s just shitty. Most people are super forgiving if they’re just kept in the loop with the status of things– at least that’s been my experience.
15. You Tell Fibs
If you are trying to gain a new client, a promotion or a new job and you lie to get ahead, you are setting yourself up for failure. People do not like being lied to, and even a small skew of the truth can be enough to turn people off for good.
When you’re up for an interview or an important meeting, do you do anything specific to make sure you come across well? Talk to me in the comments!
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I love this list! The item on being conceited really resonated with me. I just met someone who seemed nice at first but then I realized that in ONE conversation she managed to say, “I’m really good at X” about seven times. A turnoff, indeed! I love meeting people who are down to earth, open, and genuine. Rare gems.
I feel like #5 happens so often that it’s acceptable in some places. It’s so weird to me. I was at a conference recently where they encouraged you to be on your phone and tweeting about your experience during the entire thing. I felt like it was so rude to the speaker!
We just had a disastrous trial with a new potential nanny and in retrospect, my negative first impression was well borne out by the trial.
She was nosy (asked inappropriately personal questions about our finances), tried to excuse her nosiness by presuming a closer relationship to us than she had (declaring she was just acting like family when we had just met), and kept declaring that she was the best person for the job but passing up opportunities to show me that.
All things to avoid!
I really empathize with being off your game and making a mediocre first impression but sometimes a bad one means you’re really not a good fit!