4 ways to fix a bad first impression at work

You were behind a failure of epic proportions at work. But not only that — you just so happened to embarrass yourself while meeting your new boss for the first time.

Here’s how to move forward in a more positive direction after making a bad first impression in the office.

Be crystal clear about it

Think about it: You have nothing to lose.

For Simon Sinek, author of “Leaders Eat Last,” it all boils down to honesty. In a recent Inc. video, he talks about how explaining that you’re not proud of your first impression — and doing so over the phone, not sending an email — can be an effective tool.

Here’s the script he recommends using: “I think I came across poorly when I met you. I was a little bit excitable and I think I was nervous and I just wanted to put it out there that I wasn’t particularly proud of how I came across.”

Don’t let them see you sweat

Try not to get too tripped up by your mistake.

Alysa Wishingrad writes on the JPatrick + Associates Executive Recruiters blog about how to keep your cool during an interview where you’ve come off the wrong way.

“Think back to the last time you were watching a live performance and a dancer slipped, or an actor flubbed their lines,” Wishingrad writes. “The dancer who seamlessly continues on with the choreography or the actor who allows the gaffe play in their favor often wind up as audience favorites. It’s the ones who pull a face, or get so flustered they can’t find their place that lose the audience’s favor.”

Show the value of your contributions

Prove that you have a lot to offer.

Heidi Grant, Ph.D., author, Senior Scientist at the Neuroleadership Institute, and associate director for the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University, writes in the Harvard Business Review about employing what psychologists reportedly deem “outcome dependency,” which essentially “means that others can’t get what they want without cooperation from you.”

“To create outcome dependency, try to identify opportunities for collaboration. For example, if your supervisor has underestimated you, consider asking for an assignment that would allow you to work with her more closely. It’s natural to shy away from people who don’t think highly of you, but you need to fight that instinct and instead stick to them like glue if you hope to correct their misperceptions. Things will get much more comfortable once they begin to realize that you’re not so bad after all,” Grant writes.

Switch things up

Let them see you in a different light.

Journalist, digital media consultant, and investor John Boitnott writes about how to do this in Entrepreneur.

“Some professionals have found that the best way to overcome a bad first impression is to show a completely different side of themselves. If you’ve made a joke and it’s fallen flat, follow up by showing your serious side. If you feel that you’ve overreached in your efforts to be professional and come across as pompous or rude, try to lighten the mood with a little self-deprecating humor,” Boitnott writes. “Often revealing a completely different side of yourself can make a difference in showing that someone can’t get to know you in just a few seconds.”