How to Overcome a Bad First Impression

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You only ever get one chance to introduce yourself for the first time, barring largely extraordinary circumstances. If you screw up a first impression, it may feel like your prospects are shot, whether it's for a job interview, a date, or something equally weighty. Luckily for all us, while a good initial meeting can help, it's not the only way to build a good relationship.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have just released a study breaking down what we're really after in a first impression. In a business setting especially, one key factor becomes more important than anything else: trustworthiness. The researchers found that even if somehow one party breaks or damages that trust, it's not the end of the world for their bond.

"A good example is engaging in a negotiation with a salesperson and there is questionable trust on that first meeting," said study author Rachel Campagna. "But when the two people meet again to finish the negotiation, like sign contracts, the customer learns that the salesperson did something to help them that wasn't expected. That simple act is an opportunity to mend any negative first trust impression and may even strengthen it with actions like future referrals."

If you think about it, this is actually the plot of most of your favorite romantic comedies. We want to believe that two flawed but lovable people can come together triumphant after some hilarious initial mishaps. The data suggests (in a career sense, at least) that we can expect that in our professional lives too.