How to Recover From A Bad First Impression

Patti was interviewed by the Toronto Sun on how to recover from a bad first impression.  Read her tips below!

You Blew It! Now What?
How to Recover From
A Bad First Impression
Special to Postmedia Network

Your gut tells you that you messed up, but you don’t get
a second chance at making a good first impression right?

Well, possibly you do but you must go in prepared. A
recovery mission to alter an initial perception requires

According to experts, if you’ve made a bad first
impression, people then search for behaviors that
backup their initial perception, and ignore information
that conflicts with what they already believe. Beliefs stick
and may limit opportunities in many areas of life.

According to body language expert Patti Wood,
( first impressions are made within seconds
and it can take up to six months of continuous face-to-
face interaction to change an incorrect first impression.
First impressions are stubborn, social psychologist Heidi
Grant Halvorson tells Business Insider. “And they can
Sometimes be way, way off.” If you’ve stumbled, here’s how
 to recover and make a great impression — the second
time around!
Set a new intention, recommends
Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First
Impressions, Body Language and Charisma. Think of the
new impression you want to send. Anchor it with a specific
set of behaviors you will do at a specific time.
“Let’s say you are seen as overly critical in meetings so
at each meeting you set the intention: I will give one piece
of praise by midway in each meeting and smile and look
at the person or group as I say it,” says Wood.
Provide the perceiver with abundant evidence that they
are dead wrong about you, suggests Grant Halvorson in
Business Insider.
Repeat your evidence behavior over and over.
Piling it on will need to go on for quite
some time. Adds Wood: “If you want to change your
impression you will have to give your better impression
over and over and again to build trust. Don’t be discouraged.
Keep trying. Your consistent positive behavior
will nurture a more accurate healthy impression and long
lasting healthy relationships.”

Show a different, better side
of your personality to help reshape perception, recommends
Wood. “If you come across as gruff, turn and show
your sense of humor. If you come across a cold, show your
warmth — perhaps by showing the way you are a good listener
by leaning forward, paying attention. “If you come across as critical,
show you are actually a positive person who notices
good things by making a comment about a great movie you
just saw or giving a concrete piece of praise,” says Wood.


Interact in a different place.

“Research on first impressions
says they are more likely to change if the person sees you
in a different environment,” says Wood, so if the blunder
happened in a meeting room, stop and chat in the hall or
break room. “If you interact every day in the office, go out
with the office staff to lunch. Mix your environments.”
Watch and listen to yourself. Wood says to use your
phone to audio or video tape yourself to see what it is
you are doing that sets a bad impression. “Then watch the
tape and write out the behaviors or have someone else
listen to or look at the tapes and give you feedback.”
Check in at the start and end of interactions.

Be aware of your first and lasts
The first thing and last thing you do in an interaction has the greatest
impact on your impression, says Wood, so be sure to take
note of what you’re doing and make adjustments in your
behavior at those times.

Ask for a do-over
Consider a do-over. If you really messed up and are
committed to reversing that bad first impression, then
apologize and start over. Be profuse and gracious with
your apology, recommends Vicky Oliver, author of 301
Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions. This must be
done with integrity to work, adds Wood. You must sincerely
wish to improve how you are. “A very brave way to change
a bad first impression is to ask for a do-over then ask that very person to tell you the
one small behavior you can change to begin to heal and
change their impression of you.,” says Wood.

“A very brave way to change a
bad first impression is to ask that very
person to tell you the one small
behavior you can change to begin
to heal and change their
impression of you.”
Patti Wood

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at