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Thursday, February 11, 2010

JETNETTING: The First Impression Factor: XXI Overcoming the Negative First Impression

JetNetting with Heshie Segal

Go ahead. Feel great. You have made that all important First Impression so positively, it has garnered you tentative credibility. It’s the opening you needed to embark on the journey to your new relationship. You have created the opportunity for people being receptive to you, your ideas, your persona. You have captured the essence of the first 20 articles related to The First Impression Factor and you have laid the foundation. You have mastered it so it is no longer an effort. It is who you are . . . an attraction magnet.

And then, you make a mistake, or perhaps, you are new to the series and have no idea how detrimental a negative first impression can be, and you want to salvage the faux pax and start afresh. Is it an impossible task? In some cases, the answer really is yes, and all you can do is move on and learn from it.

The key here is, in most cases you can, with effort, reverse a negative impression. It may take work. Is it worth it? In most cases, yes!.

So, before we look at reversing the negative situation, let’s go through some potential issues that could trigger the other person taking offence. For those of you who have read and practiced the guidelines and skills from previous articles, this might simply serve as a review.

Following is a summation and a list of items with the potential of offending some individuals:

The first step toward correction, as always, is to understand where you might have been off-base. Clearly, a long list of possibilities exists, so let’s touch on the most common. (In some cases, these will seem so common and apparent, you might be tempted to gloss over them. I recommend you ignore this urge. You would not believe how many people ignore the basics, to their detriment. Do yourself a favor. Read every one of them (and then make up your own list of possibilities) because if you know what to expect, you can crack the code of the negative impression and never be caught off guard again. That would certainly be worth a few minutes of your time and concentration, wouldn’t it?

Check list and review of many of the do’s and don’ts (see former articles)

  1. Cleanliness: Did you have:
    1. Body odor?
    2. Bad breathe?
    3. Dirty hair?
    4. Dirty fingernails?
    5. Smoke on your breath or clothing?
  1. Appearance:
    1. Attire appropriate for the occasion?
    2. Clothes neat and pressed?
    3. Shoes or other attire look shabby or overly worn?
    4. Dressed stylishly?

  1. Behavior/Etiquette:
    1. Arrive on time and not leave someone waiting?
    2. Were you:

1). Rude?

2). Loud?

3). Obnoxious?

4). Uncaring?

5). Lack empathy?

6) Discourteous?

7) Phoney? (not who you really are, putting on airs, just plain incongruent)

8) Late?

    1. Focus: Do you need to have it all on you?
    2. Did you:

1) Place you attention on the person with whom you were speaking or look around for someone “better”?

2) Crack an inappropriate joke?

3) Say something inappropriate?

4) Gossip?

5) Take a cell call in the middle of a conversation?

6) Hurt someone’s feelings?

7) Leave someone out in the course of conversation?

8) Not follow acceptable standards for a meeting?

9) Drink too much and have a loose tongue?

  1. Communication:
    1. Did you

1). Use fowl language?

2). Interrupt someone?

3). Did you do what you said you would do and confirm it? (Make a promise and

not keep it?)

4). Get a referral and not say thank you or acknowledge it?

5). Forget someone’s name?

    1. Were you:

1). Observant of cultural differences?

2). Were you a good listener?

Once you have pinpointed what boo-boo you perpetrated (if you are still unclear, you may have to just test the waters or even ask the other, if it is important enough), consider if any of the following solutions could assist with your correction.

Apologize ASAP . . . this is not a time to wait.

Time is of the essence so the first thing to do is, apologize. Acknowledge your insensitivity, your mistake, or whatever you may have done and, at times, explaining why you acted a certain way, or said something inappropriate. Authentic explanations are generally very well accepted. A simple forgive me, could work too. The longer you let a scenario go without addressing it, the greater the risk of it being blown out of proportion and the harder it will be to repair the damage. Once you do apologize and it is accepted, don’t keep apologizing over and over. Put it behind you and don’t bring it up again. When you keep repeating your apology, you run the risk of aggravating the istuation, plus portraying low swel-esteem; if that happens enough, the person may simply start avoiding you. Just be present and committed to creating win/win outcomes.

Create a positive environment.

Be optimistic and self- assured (not egotistical). The past is over and you cannot change it. You can change your future behavior and you can create a positive environment by being positive.

Be yourself.

People often feel they need to change according to the situation. Your casual attire at a barbeque or picnic will be viewed differently at the office. Your way of being, your integrity, your language, etc. remain the same when you want to present an honest, congruent, genuine and sincere persona. Phonies are not well-liked or accepted. Just be real, transparent.

Be Consistent.

Whatever you do, display the same consistent behavior so you come across as authentic, grounded . . . someone who can be counted on.

Know and live by your values.

When you believe in something, live by your values, stick to them, own them, and don’t disrespect those of others. Values are sacred, so don’t flip-flop on them to fit the situation. If you have a disagreement, you can agree to disagree. Steer clear of making it personal. You cannot take back what you let out of your mouth. Most of us know that there is some grain of truth in what is said. Once may be forgiven. When you hear it again and again, you know it is part of who the person is. If your values differ, it is your choice to accept the behavior or simply bow out.

Listen and pay attention.

When people talk, listen! You may do something in error simply because you were not listening or paying attention. It is important to let people know they are being heard.

Make eye contact.

To re-start the trust cycle be sure you make eye contact. Without eye contact it's hard to establish trust, and without trust you have no chance of recovery.

Be on time.

If you have made an appointment, be on time. If you are going to be late or cannot make it, pick up the phone and call.


Listen to names in an introduction, learn them, use them often – it makes the conversation more personal. Get rid of the internal conversation, “I’m not good at remembering names.” It only reinforces a behavior you want to delete.


Temper your sense of humor until you know everyone is on board with your particular brand. Using a little self-deprecating humor can go a long way in your apology, and even in building credibility. Just use it sparingly and/or appropriately.

Your attitude about who you are and what you want to accomplish is the best roadmap to reach your destination. When you couple that with a clear purpose, it is almost certain to get you to what you want. By being yourself and looking for ways to serve others, you hold in your hands a winning formula. If along the way, you do make a mistake, you now have the tools to correct it. Focus on the steps to creating a positive first impression and the likelihood of you needing to do a ‘retro-fit’ will diminish significantly.

For more information, please visit Heshie's TNNW Bio.

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