"If you think business and manners don’t mix, try talking with your mouth full.” - Diane Gottsman, Modern Manners & Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Resource

Leaving a First Impression that Leads to a Second Chance

March 29th, 2017 by

Dear Diane,

I have always heard that first impressions matter. I am wondering how important they really are when it comes to leaving a lasting impact. I recently met someone at a function and feel I might have misjudged them. I have tried several times to reconnect and she won’t return my call. Should I give up or give it another try?

Shelly J.

Dear Shelly,

It’s human nature to make assumptions about people. In fact, research shows you may only have the blink of an eye to make a great first impression. Initial meetings can be difficult to overcome. A snap decision can affect a relationship forever, regardless of the behavior that follows. Nerves, miscommunication and cultural differences are a few reasons an individual’s assessment of another can be misleading.

What First Impressions Are Based On

Quickly summing someone up is less random than it might appear. When we make an initial connection we unconsciously process an enormous amount of information. We evaluate overall appearance and posture, including micro traits: smile, fidgeting, eye contact and other nonverbal cues. Before a word is spoken, a snapshot of the other person is formed. We tend to be drawn to people we find confident, personable and attractive.

Make no mistake: smart, successful people are not all cut from the same cloth. One of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein, was as famous for his wild hair and sloppy appearance as he was for his groundbreaking formulas. It can be a mistake to immediately write off a connection based on an initial interaction.

Stereotypes Could be Wrong

For example, not every engineer or tech savvy person is uncomfortable in social situations. Not every scientist avoids large crowds. Not every professor wears bow ties and not every etiquette trainer is stuffy. In other words, you can’t always read a book by its cover.

I was once approached by a disheveled man who I discounted as a potential client. He was pursuing an important lead and reached out to hire me for “fine tuning.” This opportunity turned into many years of lucrative work, and I made a good friend and trusted ally in the process. He was a high-level CEO who knew he needed training and confessed he had put it off for too long.

In answer to your question Shelly, if you have made several attempts to reach out and you have had no response, I would let it go for now. You could be spending time and energy on other people and situations that may result in a more favorable response. You can always follow back up in the near future. She may be distracted by other things right now and more receptive to your call at a later date.

Best of luck,

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Categories: Ask the Etiquette Expert