Made a Bad Impression? Here's How to Score a Second Chance

Meghan Rooney

As humans, we can't always be on the top of our game. It's inevitable that everyone will experience a bad day here and there, and it's in our nature to make mistakes—knowingly or not. If you happen to meet someone for the first time on "one of those days," it's possible you'll leave them with a bad impression, especially when it's someone who doesn't know you any better to give you the benefit of the doubt. When that's the case, it can be very difficult to change the perception, but it's not entirely impossible if you take the right approach. Fortunately, Harvard Business Review is here help with a recently published article detailing the four strategies for overcoming a bad impression. We're highlighting our favorite techniques for securing a second chance below.

Be bold. It's tough to change a perception with subtle, small gestures. In order to direct the attention away from the negative impact you've made, you'll need to surprise the person you've offended in an effort to get them to re-evaluate what they "think" they know about you. If you're typically shy, make a point to speak up and assert your opinion, and give them a reason to believe they have misjudged you.

Be consistent. When taking action to repair the perception you've created, you'll need to give abundant evidence to help the person even begin to reconsidering their thoughts. It's extremely important to be persistent about showing them the other side of you, and by doing so repeatedly over time. If they are able to see you are consistently taking action to repair the damages, they'll be more likely to change their opinion of you.

Open yourself up. When you're at odds with someone, it's tempting to avoid them and ignore the problem, which only allows the distaste to persist. Instead, let your actions speak louder than words by making an effort to get to know someone who may have the wrong impression of you. If you open up to them, chances are they'll be open to getting to know the real you. 

Give it time. In some cases you may not know exactly why you started off on the wrong foot with someone, which leaves you at a loss as to where begin with mending the relationship. If you're not exactly sure what is leading to the problem, wait it out to allow the person to reconsider and change their minds about what they assumed to be true. By being patient, and continuing to act in ways that you are proud of, they'll come around with time.

How would you approach overcoming a bad first impression? It can never hurt to be overly kind, so read up on the topic by picking up a copy of The Power of Kindness.

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