Don’t Be Impressed


They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

So what should one do about this? Conventional wisdom says this: the first impression is a lasting one, so you’d better make it a good one! The onus, it would seem, falls entirely on the one doing the impressing.

I think this is backwards.

First, we have to ask: why is the first impression so lasting?

It seems to me that the first impression is a lasting one because whoever you are “impressing upon” is going to (1) make quick judgments about you, (2) take those judgments as conclusions, and then (3) fall victim to confirmation bias, looking for data points that support their initial conclusions and ignoring the data that doesn’t.

In this way, it becomes very difficult for someone to change their mind about you due to bias and the cognitive lift of taking in new data. Given this, I do not think the onus should be on the “impresser” to stick some kind of perfect gymnastic landing after flipping three times in the air. The onus should fall entirely on the one being “impressed” to manage their own cognitive biases and premature conclusions. In fact, there should be no “impressing” at all.

We’d be wise to change the narrative from “first impression” to “first data point — subject to change.”

By Ryan Paugh

Hi there!

With decades spent exploring the outer world and the inner world, I share some of the insights I have learned along the way.

Topics include mindfulness, spirituality, growth, perspective, and career.

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