6 ways to make a bad first impression

Lateness, lack of preparation, and inattention to personal appearance/hygiene can taint a relationship from the outset. Don’t commit these common blunders.

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I agree with my colleague Betsy Winkler: First impressions are key, and their importance is often underestimated.

Whether you have a job interview, a first contact with a new boss, a sit-down with a potential customer, a networking coffee, or a first meeting with your girlfriend/boyfriend’s parents, here are some surefire ways to start off on the wrong foot:

1. Be late. Are you guilty of cutting it too close on timing? (I confess I am at times.) Why? Sometimes you’re cranking to get one more task done before the next meeting. Other times, you underestimated the time and focus required to end the previous meeting on time. Maybe you weren’t keeping close track of the time or simply didn’t think it was a big deal if you were a couple of minutes late.

Whatever the reason, most people get annoyed when they have to wait for you. Or they question your time management skills. Or they assume you don’t care about their time. Additionally, you are more likely to be flustered and distracted if you fly from one call to the next without taking time to make the mental transition. All this contributes to leaving a bad impression.

2. Don’t prepare. When you’re not ready, you communicate at least three things to the person you’re meeting.

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