Things That Immediately Ruin a First Impression

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

We form our first impression about someone within the first seven seconds of meeting them, and there are definitely certain factors that can instantly make or break it. Are you ready to find out what you should and shouldn’t do in order to leave a good first impression on other people? Then keep on reading…

1. A Weak Handshake

A flimsy handshake can be a real first impression killer. Research has shown that people with a weak handshake are instantly judged as being shy, anxious, uninterested, or even completely incompetent. To make a good impression, remember to grip the other person’s hand firmly, but for no longer than two seconds.

2. Keeping Your Hands in the Wrong Position

When sitting in front of a group of people, be mindful of where you keep your hands. Avoid keeping them in your pockets, as this gives the impression that you’re hiding something. Also, be aware of cultural differences when placing your hands on the table. While gently folding your hands on the table is acceptable in the Western world, it is considered rude in Japan and India.

3. Chewing Gum

Chewing gum can be incredibly annoying and distracting, especially in formal or first-time encounters. It makes you look immature, self-centered, and somewhat lowbrow. However, in casual situations, chewing gum can make you appear more friendly and approachable.

4. Avoiding Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact during a conversation is important, as it is seen as a sign of confidence, attentiveness, intelligence, and trustworthiness. Avoiding eye contact, on the other hand, can make you appear less sincere, more anxious, and even unattractive. Remember to lock eyes with the other person from time to time, especially when meeting them for the first time.

5. Playing with Your Hair

Playing with your hair during a conversation can make you look unconfident, anxious, and uncomfortable. It can even be seen as a sign of OCD if it becomes excessively repetitive. Try to kick this habit, especially in official situations.

6. Picking the Wrong Conversation Topics

Avoid discussing taboo topics such as health problems, money, religion, politics, or personal problems and complaints. Instead, be attentive to your conversation partner and be a good listener.

7. Invading Someone’s Personal Space

Respect personal space by maintaining a minimum distance of four feet when meeting someone for the first time. Standing too close can be seen as aggressive, while standing too far away may make you seem uninterested. Find a happy medium and stick to it.

8. Making Distracting Noises

Tapping your foot, fingers, or pen on the desk can indicate nervousness, irritation, or impatience. Additionally, cracking your knuckles, while relieving stress, is considered one of the most annoying sounds. Try to control these habits, especially during important meetings or presentations.

9. Constantly Checking Your Phone

Checking your phone during a conversation, even just to check the time, is extremely impolite. It gives the impression that you’re bored and have better things to do. Keep your phone out of sight to ensure a quality conversation and engagement.

10. Forgetting People’s Names

Forgetting someone’s name can be embarrassing. To avoid this, get into the habit of immediately repeating their name after being introduced. Excuses about having a bad memory won’t cut it. If you do forget, play it cool and avoid using phrases that require naming the other person.

11. Being Late

Running late to a meeting or appointment shows that you’re unreliable and unorganized. It gives the impression that you don’t value other people’s time. Make an effort to be punctual and manage your time effectively.

12. The Wrong Attire

People judge others based on appearance within the first seven seconds. Choose conservative clothing, be polished, and avoid heavy perfume or excessive makeup. Looking neat and well put together leaves a positive impression.


Leaving a good first impression is crucial, as it can significantly impact how others perceive you. Avoiding these twelve things that can ruin a first impression will help you make a positive and lasting impact on the people you meet.

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2024 


People hire Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter to provide No BS Career Advice globally because he makes many things in peoples’ careers easier. Those things can involve job search,

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