Three Things About Those “First Impressions” …


Greeting“Love, friendship, and business opportunities all develop from good judgment, not just hastily formed opinions based on first impressions.”

 As leaders, we are often expected to make quick and accurate decisions, right?

Our world demands fast action and razor-sharp responses.   Leadership, sales, networking, and business in general have scads of pithy sayings which focus on the idea that you only have one shot to convince someone else to trust you.

I have often been told that my upcoming meeting with a Very Important Person was critical and they will decide whether I am worth spending any time or money on in an extremely short period of time which starts as soon as I show up … which does not leave me relaxed, confident, or at my best.

Hmmm …

… Have you ever thought someone was just beautiful, fun, neat, or some other type of “Cool” when you first met them, but later decided they were not quite all that?

In critical thinking, one of the things we talk about is the ability to separate the person from the idea.  This is like that, except you are not separating, but allowing your impression to go deeper and be formed by more than that first few seconds or minutes in that particular context when you were in that exact mood.

 

Do first impressions count?

Sure … sometimes a first impression is all the chance you have to set up a relationship with another person.

Are first impressions always correct?

Nope … sometimes they are completely inaccurate for any number of reasons.

 

As a matter of fact, I can name several women who have lived their lives with a fairly negative view of me, based on my first perception that they were beautiful and I was not worthy.  This translated into boorish behavior fueled by an extraordinary amount of alcohol.   Not a good combination … and it created a first impression of me that was impossible to alter. 

In business, we talk much of the time about business relationships, but then we tout the old and inaccurate sayings about first impressions. 

Here’s a few guidelines for creating perceptions based on good judgment, and not just first impressions:

Give It a Chance …

If time really is money, invest it with the same care and long-term view that you should be using with real money.  Time is a valuable resource and investing time in a relationship outweighs snap decisions with a limited amount of information to guide you. 

If you see consistent behavior over time, you have confirmed your initial thoughts.   If you are surprised by varied degrees of behavior, you have just been reminded that most of us are multi-dimensional.

Be slow to judge, rather than quick … what’s the rush?

Consider the Context … 

Think of behavior within a spectrum and not as a finite point or event.

Base your eventual perceptions on established behavior over time.  Look for the average and consider it in the context of the standard deviations.  In other words, pay attention to how the person acts most of the time and how far and how often they stray from their behavioral center.

For example, I am seldom at my peak performance from 1 PM to 3 PM each day … catch me early or catch me later and I will astound you.  Between 1 and 3, I resemble a Zombie.

After all, none of us are on our best game all the time.

Be Humble …

If you accept that none of us are perfect, this third aspect is easier to handle.   If you do believe in perfection, I have a very nice bridge on special for a cash offer …

Part of this is perspective … you are not the only participant in this dance.  After all, the other person is forming THEIR FIRST IMPRESSION OF YOU now as well.  Maybe judging everything in terms of “me” is not the ideal way to do.  The old “Do Unto Others As …” idea comes into play here. 

Remember, you are just two human beings trying to get through life and a rushed decision based on first impressions may just be the worst decision you ever make.

Trying to remember to give the other guy a reasonable chance in the Heartland ….

John

 

Doing It Again and Again …


Experience is terrific.  It allows us to make our mistakes with far more finesse the next time around.”

Anonymous, who is one smart cookie

 

You know the other saying about mistakes, right?   “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”

There is something in all this about making mistakes. 

Not WHY we make them, but HOW we make them.

When we make a mistake, we should learn from that mistake and do better next time.   No real surprise there … solid learning theory.

I think Anonymous is onto something with this idea about finesse.   We tend to approach our “learning experiences”, as I like to call my mistakes, with the idea that we will never be that dumb again.  We set our bar rather high.  We think we need to do things perfectly, once we have done them imperfectly.

However, real learning does not work like that. 

Learning tends to come in increments, with often small changes in our behavior as we slowly adjust to more effective ways of doing things, rather than the “Bad to Good” easy one-step change we envision.

This often works better in the long run, because you are doing two things:

1)  Avoiding that crash when your one-step total change doesn’t work out.

2)  Building a solid base for continual change and improvement.

Now, apply this to how you help those for whom you are responsible change.  Small, steady steps forward and upward, until they have learned and embraced the habit of continual small improvements.   You have then created a learning machine and a valuable employee.

Once you accept the idea that change is incremental, you have freed yourself to take small steps to change.  This takes some pressure off … you can do a little change every day easier than one big change.

After all, we do not try to reach the top of the stairs in one step, do we?

Thinking about teeny-weeny improvements in my own backyard in the Heartland ….

John

 

Image:  Milad Mosapoor

Four Questions About Learning …


image“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.”

George Santayana

 

No argument here … I find that every day brings new learning.  Given the pace of change we currently enjoy, that’s little surprise.

It approaches trivial to repeat the much –stated idea that the more we know, the more we know we do not know.  I know for sure that I know much less of the world than I thought I did a few years ago.  Curse you, Google searchSmile.

 

The questions to ponder with regard to continual learn is this:

How are you identifying what you need to learn?

How are you planning to learn?

What resources will you use to learn?

How will you know when you have learned it?

If your answer to any of the above is “I dunno”, then you have some work to do.

Getting busy on my own personal learning plans in the Heartland …

John

 

REWIND: I Pledge Allegiance To Uplifting…


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NOTE:  originally posted on March 10, 2014, but still just as pertinent now.

Want to be known as a leader who is …

Inspirational?

Aspirational?

All about service?

All about significance?

You are a current or future leader who want to be of service to others through your leadership, and whose leadership makes a positive difference.  You want your efforts to uplift others.

You are not alone … Continue reading