Can you change a first impression? Yes, I believe you can. It may not be easy, but I believe it’s doable.
It’s what you do after that first experience that counts. What you do the next time, and the next time, and in between, are building blocks that will strengthen the impression others have of you.
Think of times you’ve thought someone was not what you’d hoped for or wanted or needed, and then, over time, you found them to be different or more than your first impression of them. They’re brighter or more creative or more thoughtful or more insightful than you’d imagined.
It makes me think of a dilemma a leader ran into. Lynda wanted to work with Dan, but he didn’t want anything to do with her based on his first impression. She tried reaching out to him again and again but he would not return her calls or respond to her messages. She was stumped. Then she realized she had a good rapport with some of the people who worked with and for Dan. She made a point of always doing whatever she did for them to the best of her ability, followed up to ensure they got what they needed from her and her people, reached out to them when she thought she could be of service, before they asked. They thought very highly of her.
After a while, Lynda asked if they would mention the work she did for them to Dan, if ever an opportunity arose to do so. It took time, but eventually Dan heard only good things about Lynda whenever her area’s work came up in his meetings. Over and over, he heard how dependable, reputable, and delightful she was to work with. He shifted his thinking about her and told her so.
I believe, your reputation and the impression of you that will spread and stick is based on who you are over time. Not just a first impression.