How to Bounce Back From a Bad First Impression
At a party at your husband's new office, you started the evening nervous and eager to impress but ended it stumbling and slurring.
- Follow an insider's lead. "Your husband knows best about his office's politics and personalities and what the impact of your actions is likely to be," says Fee. So consult him about what steps to take. The same tack can help in similar situations―say, if you overindulged at a block party in your new neighborhood. "First apologize to the host, then ask his advice on how to proceed with the neighbors," Fee says.
- If you offended someone, e-mail an apology. "E-mail's great for this," says Dickinson. "It's immediate, not too formal. Say, 'I understand I upset you, and I can't tell you how sorry I am. Obviously I wasn’t at my best.' Then add something positive: 'Your good opinion means a lot to me.'" Humor can't hurt, she adds: "Making light of your foibles indicates that the behavior was an anomaly." Perhaps sign off with a new motto: "Less vodka, more tonic." If the party was at someone's home, e-mail the hostess an apology, then consider sending a small bouquet and a note thanking her for inviting you. "But don't go for the huge apology bouquet," says Dickinson. "It’s embarrassing."
- Follow up a bad interaction with a series of good ones. If you just embarrassed yourself, "lie low for a while," says Fee, "and next time, be on your best behavior." Try to have conversations with everyone to show yourself in a better light. "And don't constantly remind everyone of the incident by bringing it up. Positive interactions over time will outweigh that first impression."