I’m a lot of things; smart, funny, witty, self-deprecating, and a lot of fun. One thing I am not is someone who makes a great first impression. I have a very dry sense of humor, I laugh at my own jokes all the time, and sarcasm is my middle name. I have a lot of opinions, and I’m on afraid to voice them, and people tend to look at me and assume that I am a blubbering idiot who cares about nothing but my looks. Sure, I do care about my looks, and I don’t take things too seriously unless I absolutely have to, but I’m not an airhead. My first impression is always terrible, and I know it, so I’ve had to learn a few tricks to win people over who have a preconceived notion of who I am before they know who I am.
Check Your Ego at the Door
When I encounter a person who doesn’t like me after seeing me or hearing something about me, I like to break the ice by leaving my ego at the door; I might approach them at a gathering and make a joke about myself or say something completely unexpected so that we can start a conversation and they can really see who I am. Once I met a man several times through friends, but he always seemed like he didn’t care much for me; he never said hello in social situations and he was always very quick to avoid me. One day, tired of his obvious dislike (I don’t care if you don’t like me, but I’d rather you dislike me for a reason, not for no reason) I approached him, put my arm around him and said, “Is it my shoes? Do they intimidate you? Or is it because I’m a Republican?” and we’ve been good friends ever since.
Don’t Be Needy
When you want to win someone over, don’t show your desperation. No one wants to be friends with the person who is so desperate for their attention that they can smell it on them. Be yourself, but cooler.
Throw a Curveball in the Conversation
When someone just doesn’t seem all that interested in what you have to say, say something else. For example, I find that men tend to listen to what I have to say when I mention how excited I am to meet the NFL Commissioner and tour the NFL offices in NYC in a few weeks as the result of an invitation I was issued by the NFL to come speak with them about children’s health and safety in sports. When people realize that my work has reached so many people that the NFL knows who I am, they are more interested in hearing what I have to say.