Monday 14 January 2013

First impressions

Happy New Year!

Do people even care about the impression they make when they meet someone for the first time anymore? Or do they simply assume that you’ve already Googled them, found their sordid life on Facebook, or seen how many Twitter followers they have? I am worried that our abilities to meet people face to face for the first time and create good impression are fading. If prospective bosses can already find our online lives and professional profiles, does it matter about creating the right impression from the moment your eyes meet?

I was struck dumb by this apparent assumption when I met some people for the first time recently. It hit me just how much they didn’t care what impression of them I went away with. And that, also, annoyed me.

Of course, we meet people for the first time in all sorts of ways: those we are expecting to meet; those by chance. Some we’ve already heard about, some come as blank canvasses on which we can paint our judgements. We meet people socially, when they are more relaxed; and we meet them in a professional capacity, where lines of properness and rules of engagement often differ. 

Surely, no matter the situation, the first rule for any situation when meeting someone for the first time is a greeting? An acknowledgement? If I am introduced to someone and I just carry on moaning/singing/larking about/working without even a Hello, I would be being rude. Wouldn’t I? Well, I wouldn’t do it. So I found it very strange when introduced to some new people in a professional setting who didn’t find it rude at all; who simply refused to see my time as something worthwhile. I was a spectator, among others, to their show. 

So, greetings aside: what do you want people to see when they meet you the first time? The real you? The honest, hardworking, chirpy you? The shirty, bemoaning, critical you? The dazzling confident you? Or the worried, fusspot you? It’s got to be as good as it can be, according to the situation. It’s not about living up to expectations that aren’t truly you, but it should be about presenting yourself in the most positive realms of who you are. We are not all the same, I understand that. But why anyone would want to present themselves as an exaggerated, aggressive, unprofessional, ridiculous version of who they are to someone they have just met? I have no idea. Unless that is them; and, well, that’s a whole other problem.

But that is exactly why first impressions should count. You might only get that one time, that one moment. And if that moment comes back to haunt you, who do you have to blame? 

The person judging or what they had in front of them to judge? 

Judy Garland once said you should “always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” In an age when individuality should be celebrated, when being the black sheep can be rejoiced in a way it once couldn’t and personality is king, show it. Positively. And assume nothing. You are someone's blank canvass.

Your first impression then won’t be their last. 

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