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A Fool-Proof Guide on How to Not Make Yourself Look like an Idiot At First Impressions

There are times in life when first impressions are impossible to control, and other times when you can, in fact, make sure you don’t look like a bum / idiot / slob / slut / jerk / other synonyms.

For instance…

Today at Borders I was browsing in the Psych section when I saw on the top shelf a 12X12 inch book called THE BOOK OF PENIS. Enraged by such inappropriateness, I took the 10lb thing down. Inside, I found 100s of photos of men modeling their you know whats. Just as I opened it, a man walked into my isle and immediately turned around looking at me like I’m a slut! Needless to say I put it back.

You would’ve looked too you know it!

In a situation like this, it probably would have been even more awkward had I gone running after him with the book in hand attempting to explain to him that I was not actually staring closely at a particular section of the full-two-page photo but simply just attempting to read the small print to find out who the photographer was so I could send him hate mail… 😉

This is a good example in which first impressions aren’t always in your control and you end up looking like a sex-crazed twenty something.  (No-one in their twenties is duh)

But, most of the time, it is in your control, and these moments are very important.

Most of the opportunities and successes I’ve landed for myself have been through meet-and-greets with people I’ve met for the first time that end up sharing common interests with me.

And so, let’s take a closer look as to how we can make better first impressions that show off the more mature, knowledgeable, and remarkable people we are rather than the curious, rule-bending, badasses we are after the fact.


1.) Show Up Late. Marilyn Monroe once said, “I am invariably late for appointments – sometimes as much as two hours. I’ve tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.”

Okay, so maybe Marilyn had a better excuse since she was obviously off having fun with JFK and Joe Dimaggio. But most of the time being late does not warrant an excuse. Plus, who wants to be known as the person that is ALWAYS late (No offence, but you guys are a pain in the ass sometime! .. unless I’m running late too)

I’m not denying that things happen and we all are late sometimes, but being on time is one of the easiest ways to create a solid first impression. And hey, if you really want to be awesome, show up 15 minutes early. And if you get lost easily, do what I did and get a GPS with a voice that sounds like Whoopi Goldberg. Problem solved.

2.) Talk About Your Rash. Upon the first few meetings it’s probably best not to tell us about your period, problems in bed, your uncle in jail, or the rash you can’t define.

Keep it simple, keep it relevant, keep it entertaining.

One of my favorite comedians Ellen DeGeneres once said, “I think people talk too much anyway. Sometimes people are talking to me and in my mind I’m just like “shut up, shut up, shut up…blah blah blah blah blaaaaaaah.”

You don’t want to be that other person, ya know?

3.) Be Hungover, Dirty, Smelly, Ugly. Life Coach Martha Beck told us, “Good-looking individuals are treated better than homely ones in virtually every social situation, from dating to trial by jury.”

No one likes body odor, or next-day-beer breath, or the clothes you’ve worn the past 4 days straight.

Fix yourself up, comb your hair, dab on some Axe or Bath & Body Works Spray, put on the outfit that makes you feel the sexiest, you get the picture.

Plus, it’s always fun to check yourself out in the mirror on the days we feel the sexiest.

4.) Look Like Your Waiting in a Doctor’s Office. As the saying goes, “Smile and the world smiles back.” It’s important to look positive, attentive, and excited about whoever it is you’re impressing upon.

Smiling is infectious, / You can catch it like the flu. / Someone smiled at me today, / And I started smiling too.

Not to mention, if you’re having trouble with Number Three, at least Lee Mildon told us that “People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile.”

5.) Clean Up. What if, for example, you’re out on a date and you ask your date to snatch something out of your purse for you. As he rummages around he finds a dental dam, or a piece of paper that says your first name + his last name, or a half-eaten McDonald’s burger from 3 weeks ago. (GROSS).

Clean up after yourself! Everyone has some weird/bad habits, but don’t let it get out of control!

Impressing Upon

There are plenty of other things you can make sure not to do in order to be sure you create a good impression.  These are just a few things NOT to do.

Unless, of course, you aren’t meeting someone in which you do not want to impress upon because they’re a creeper, or have a staring problem, or seem obsessive.

In the end though, it always pays off to to look nice, be on time, smile, and keep your things tidy whether you’re worried about a first impression or not.  That way everything that goes on behind the scenes is not all out in the open for innocent bystanders to see.

Do you have any embarrassing first-impression stories you’d like to share to give us all a good laugh and teach us not to do the same thing???

About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

Share with me what you're getting into that matters to you. It could be stepping into entrepreneurial pursuits, embarking on a journey of the self, making a crazy life change, or even if you're totally stuck. I want to connect with, support, collaborate with, and learn from as many people as possible through this blog (that means you!) Click the *Share* link in the main menu and let's connect by filling out the form.

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  • In Spanish the first time I met my husband’s group of best friends I told them that we liked to play poker and store our money in our butt. Word for butt is poto, word for jar is pote. Whoops!

    • hahaha Kyle That is HILARIOUS!!!! I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 5 months – it is certain I’ve done very similar things. Ah…language barriers…they can be so frustrating, but so entertaining at the same time hehe.

  • Lach

    Meh, his loss. I think that’s a great first impression. What an ice breaker.

  • carrie

    Had two dates I was polite and proper third date came my nerves kicked in ( why they kicked in on the third date I dont know) thus bringing out my inner babbling idiot, told a story about me being drunk and bite a random guys ear I would like to say that was the only horrible story I told that night but sadly i was powerless to stop the verbal diarrhoea…. yeah he didnt call me, shocker ha