In most competitive sports, getting off to a good start can mean the difference between winning and losing. Our hyper-competitive world of work is much the same. Getting off to a rough start with a new boss, colleague or client can put us at a distinct disadvantage.
As a team of psychologists from the United States, Canada and Belgium discovered, negative first impressions are particularly difficult to shake, even if we do get that second chance. The research showed that a positive impression made after an initial negative one is limited to the specific context in which it was made, while the original negative perception will continue to count against us in all other contexts. In other words, we must find many different opportunities in varying contexts in which to make a positive subsequent impression to sufficiently weaken an initial negative one.
The good news is that we never run out of opportunities to make first impressions. Think about all the people you meet at networking and industry events, at new jobs, at interviews and client pitches, and at investor presentations and contract negotiations. That’s just in your professional life.
To ensure you make the best of these many opportunities, I recommend three simple yet powerful strategies.