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There's Hope If You Make a Bad First Impression

They say there's no second chance to make a first impression, but what if your first impression is good but the second one isn't?

A new study by the University of New Hampshire says that if you make a good first impression and then screw up, most likely people will remember your first impression.

“It’s not just an old adage, first impressions really do matter especially when it comes to trust,” quotes Rachel Campagna, assistant professor of management at the university. “During an initial interaction, one of the most important and immediate factors people consider about another person is trustworthiness. It can impact their willingness to accept risk and vulnerability and can help develop future perceptions and behaviors like cooperation, whether it be for work, negotiations or partnerships. Where it gets more complex is after a significant gap in time between interactions.”

The web site reports that the researchers found that if trust is established in a first meeting but soon after someone violates that trust, "People tend to be more forgiving because they automatically revert back to that initial impression."

Even more unexpected, what they found equally interesting was that if people were not trusted during a first meeting, or they got off on the wrong foot, and had the opportunity to further violate that trust but did not, they were actually the most trusted when encountered again in the future.

“A good example is engaging in a negotiation with a salesperson and there is questionable trust on that first meeting,” says Campagna at “But when the two people meet again to finish the negotiation, like sign contracts, the customer learns that the salesperson did something to help them that wasn’t expected. That simple act is an opportunity to mend any negative first trust impression and may even strengthen it with actions like future referrals.”

There's really no consistent answer about "trust perceptions," the researchers write. "Some previous theories suggest that initial trust can be fleeting, lasting only for the first few moments of an interaction. Other research suggests it has more of a lasting influence," says newswise.

“While we found that a good first trust impression is important it was interesting to see that even if someone has a bad day and gets off on a bad foot, there are opportunities to build and strengthen the trust, which can be important to both parties”, notes Campagna.

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