How to Reverse a Bad First Impression

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Have you ever said or done something awkward or unintended during an interview, a first time encounter with a potential client or meeting a new colleague? We all have goofed up at sometime or other and committed a faux pas that was irreversible and possibly unforgettable. It is not the goof that counts; it is how you handle it.

This is the topic that Real Simple Magazine approaches in their July edition. The title of the article is “5 ways to reverse a bad first impression.” The writer of the article, Kaitlyn Pirie, approached five experts from a variety of fields to get their take on this situation. I happen to be one of them and was delighted to share my thoughts.

Here are some of the ideas that the experts offered. Deborah Tannen, author of You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, says to turn around. She suggests altering your body position during your next conversation. It may change how the person thinks of you. Ora Shtull, an executive coach in New York City, suggests that you stop and focus on the person. We are all constantly in a state of distraction. If you do or say something that creates a bad impression, stop and offer an apology, and invite that person for coffee to let them know how important meeting them is to you.

Chris Harrison, the host of the Bachelor and The Bachelorette, advises people to take  a deep breathe, stay calm and be true to themselves. He says if it doesn’t work out, maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Paul Ekman, Ph.D., suggests that people  hold still. He says that fidgeting makes you look nervous and can create a bad first impression.

Finally what is my advice? If you commit a faux pas, keep your sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. You will feel more comfortable and so will the other person. Getting distressed will only make a bad situation worse. Laughter is the best remedy for this kind of predicament and many others.

If you want to read the full article, hurry to your local bookstore or newsstand to get your copy of the July issue.You’ll not only get some good advice on how to reverse a bad situation, you’ll find lots of other wonderful articles for a stress-free summer.

If you have enjoyed this newsletter, pass it on to friends and suggest that they sign up to receive my weekly business etiquette tips. When they do, they will receive the first two chapters of my book, Manners That Sell, at the same time.

Here’s to a Happy Fourth of July and a stress-free summer!



This entry was posted in Business Etiquette Newsletter, First Impressions and tagged , , on by .

About Lydia Ramsey

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, speaker and trainer offering business etiquette training to corporations, associations, small businesses and individuals. She is the etiquette columnist for the Savannah Morning News and the etiquette blogger for Her numerous articles can be found online and in print. She has been featured or quoted in such publicatons as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Cosmopolitan and Real Simple. She brings humor, wit and a touch of Southern sass to an otherwise stuffy and aloof topic.

4 thoughts on “How to Reverse a Bad First Impression

  1. Susan Clark

    Yes, we all misstep and should acknowledge our mistakes. When we are on the receiving end we can be gracious and forgive easily – we have all found ourselves in those awkward moments. I appreciate those people who brush off the blunder and laugh along with me.

  2. Joanne Blake

    As a fellow business etiquette trainer I agree with your sentiments. We are all guilty of inadvertently hurting others. 99.9% of negative impressions are done unintentionally. Once you apologize sincerely then it’s important to forget about it and move on.


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