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Shake off a bad first impression

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in Career Management

Bad first impressions are hard to shake. Getting off on the wrong foot with a co-worker or a boss means it could take a while before they see you the way you want to be seen. Dorie Clark, writing in the Harvard Business Review, suggests ways to overcome a bad impression and change others’ perceptions of you.

Surprise them. People won’t re-evaluate your character if you are making small changes because it takes too much time and energy. If you want them to change their mind, you need to make bolder statements and gestures. For example, if you are known as being quiet and unable to take the lead, start being the first person to speak up; this will grab your boss’s and team’s attention.

Overcompensate over time. Surprising them once won’t change their opinion of you. You need to continuously make these changes, and you have to remember that these new behaviors will have to go on longer than your original “bad impression” behavior for your co-workers to notice and start to think differently of you.

Get closer to them. When you know someone has a bad impression of you, it’s easier to just avoid them and conflict altogether. But this may only make the person dislike your behavior more because they aren’t learning anything new about you. It may be uncomfortable at first, but try to find ways the two of you can get to know each other better. Meaningful conversations are sure to help change someone’s opinion of you more than everyday niceties.

Wait it out. Sometimes, you did nothing wrong to create the bad impression. If this is the case, waiting it out might be the only way to change others’ opinions. This may take longer than you would like it to; but with a little effort and strategy, one day their opinions will change, and they will finally appreciate the work you do.

— Adapted from “4 Ways to Overcome a Bad First Impression,” Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review.

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