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14 Subtle Ways You’re Making a Bad First Impression

Pardon the cliché  but you only have one chance to make a first impression. I know that seems so obvious, but it’s a shame how many people still don’t seem to realize that once someone has an opinion of you, it’s very hard to change it. Have you ever left a situation feeling as if that person didn’t like you even though you barely know each other? Yes, it sucks, but it’s human nature to make snap judgments of people we meet. Without even realizing it, you’re probably doing things in your first interaction with that new person that’s turning them off to you.

I’ve come up with a list of things that give a person a bad impression of you in hopes that you will remove them from your behavior altogether or at least catch yourself next time you’re doing one of these actions:

1. Crossing your arms over your chest

You might think you’re striking a power pose but in actuality, you look like this guy. Scary huh?

You may be unaware that you’re even doing this but it really makes you look closed off and unapproachable. Wondering what to do with your hands? That’s what pockets are for! Or just let them hang by your side, simple as that.

2. Being on your phone

Okay, that’s just rude. It makes the person you’re talking to feel like what is on your device is more important than they are. Focus on the here and now. You can get back to your phone later.

3. Being fake

People can tell when you’re trying too hard or not being yourself and honestly it ruins their impression of you.

4. Looking sloppy

If you look like you just rolled out of bed, it makes you look as if you don’t care what kind of impression you give people. Yeah, it’s great not to care what every person thinks of you. But at least go brush your hair (and teeth but that really should go without saying, ya nasty!).

5. Crude humor

Clearly since this is a first impression, you don’t know this person. You don’t know what makes them tick and you have no idea what kind of stress they’re under. It’s best to steer clear of anything that could come off as offensive or inappropriate. And that means language too. If a radio edit of your conversation would bleep a lot of things out, probably not the best way to make a good first impression.

6. Not making eye contact

It gives off an air of confidence and makes the person feel as if you actually care what they have to say. I know this is a hard one for some people to stare into some stranger’s eyes for the duration of a conversation but honestly, it’s far more awkward for your gaze to be moving all over the place.

7. Not smiling

Love you Obama, but you need to turn that frown upside down

You don’t have to plaster a huge grin on your face all the time; in fact, that’s just kinda weird. But at least when you’re first meeting someone, give them a nice welcoming smile. I mean, who wants to talk to someone that just looks miserable?

8. Being too handsy

Some people like being touched, others don’t. I would say it’s safe to shake someone’s hand when you first meet them and let’s keep it at that. No hugs!

9. Bad-mouthing other people

Everyone should have that person they can vent to, that’s healthy. But if you’re gossiping with everyone you meet, you’re giving off very negative vibes and also probably making that person feel pretty uncomfortable.

10. Not saying anything

As a shy girl, it’s hard when people mistook me for being snobby or rude when I first met them and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. But think about a time when you talked to a really quiet person. It was probably pretty off-putting trying to get them to respond to you. Just remember that in the future and also this: how are you supposed to carry on a conversation with someone who won’t say a word or doesn’t know how to respond?

11. Revealing too much about yourself

People don’t wanna know your entire personal history when they first meet you. Of course you can throw in some personal anecdotes because honestly I think that’s one of the most natural ways to carry on a conversation. But limit talking about yourself as it makes you look a bit self-obsessed.

12. Being nosy

I don’t know how many more times I can mention this, but this is a first impression. You don’t know this person so they probably won’t feel comfortable disclosing a lot of personal information to you. And you should really be okay with that.

13. Interrupting and never asking about the other person

This joke was never funny.

Honestly, this isn’t subtle. This is downright rude. I get it: when you’re trying to impress someone, you feel like the more interesting stuff about yourself, the more the person will like you. That’s not the case. The person will be more impressed if you take in what they’re saying, react, and show a genuine interest.

14. Forgetting someone’s name

I mean you just met this person, if you already forgot their name, there may be a problem… When you learn someone’s name, repeat it back to them. For example: “Hi, my name is Stacy.” Respond with: “Hi Stacy, it’s nice to meet you.” This will make it easier for you to remember in the future. ​

Briana Thornton is a fashion merchandising major at VCU (although she certainly doesn't always dress like it). You can catch her if you can running between her job at the gym, soccer practice, and the many other activities she has chosen to overwhelm herself with this semester. She lives with the motto "Try everything once" because why not? She hopes to graduate in 2018, move to London, and run a fashion magazine, Miranda Priestly style.
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