6 ways to make a bad first impression

Posted on June 14, 2017


When it comes to forming first impressions, many of us end up being quite willing to give other people the benefit of the doubt.

University of British Columbia psychologists Katherine Rogers and Jeremy Biesanz (2015) discerned between the processes of "knowing" versus "liking" in first impressions - claiming that we bring our own biases to bear when we meet someone for the first time. When you have a positive outlook on yourself, for example, you could therefore bring a positive bias toward the way you evaluate other people you don't know; and vice versa.

Rogers and Biesanz essentially showed that the more you know about people, the more likely you'll use the average [of those people] as a guide rather than be swayed by your own biases. "With regard to how you can best impress those you meet, seeming average might have advantages over seeming to be extreme on any particular dimension," says Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne of Psychology Today. "Blending in might not always be the worst thing in the world when you first come across a stranger you want to impress."

Now let's get to those six big mistakes to avoid upon making a first impression. The first one is perhaps the most common, the rest are based on general psychological principles of impression formation:

1. Don't try so hard to create a "memorable" impression.
Coming across as too different from the average might turn off the person you're trying to impress. Stick with the 'average' until you feel certain of whether your audience is prepared to handle the real you.

2. Don't try to connect to people by revealing your personal history.
You don't know what other people's lives are like - so if you talk too much about your own without learning about theirs, you might bump into some embarrassing or uncomfortable disconnects.

3. Don't fill the space with a lot of talk.
Let's say that someone you were talking to didn't seem to provide any room for YOU to contribute to the conversation. Don't be that person! It's exhausting to talk to people who expect you to follow along with everything they say.

4. Don't assume others agree with you.
Especially in a political season. Just because someone comes from a particular part of the country doesn't necessarily mean he is liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, if at all.

5. Don't ask nosy questions.
This one speaks for itself. After all, creating a good first impression means being tactful.

6. Don't feel certain that you can trust this person.
"A social desirability bias may lead some people to ascribe positive attributes to those who don't deserve them. If you're revealing personal details that should be kept under wraps, you could show how gullible and therefore immature you are to someone you're trying to impress."

Making good first impressions matters more in some situations than others, Whitbourne notes. Whether it's a job interview or meeting your partner's family for the first time, your interactions will be more fulfilling if you start them on the right note.

Category(s):Friendships, Social Anxiety / Phobia

Source material from Psychology Today