First impressions are important. And yet they are often misleading. So why do we put so much stock in them? I confess to meeting someone once and quickly categorizing them on one of the shelves in my mental library of acquaintances: Someone I’d Rather Not See Again, Someone I’d Say Hi to if I Passed Them on the Street, Someone I’d Like to Have a Drink With, Instant Family.
I saw a new doctor last week who was recommended by a friend. The experience was…tepid. She (the doctor, not the friend) seemed distracted and basically let me dictate my own care–I need these prescriptions refilled, I need these labs, I need something for this. I don’t want to dictate my care. I’m a doctor, but of the PhD variety.
All I should get to dictate are long, boring papers with lots of citations in them. The funny thing is, though, that two people have now raved about this doctor to me. About how caring and personable she is. So instead of categorizing her on the “Someone I’d Rather Not See Again” shelf, I’m going to assume she was just having one-of-those-days. I mean, who knows what is going on in her office or in her life?
Plus, and this is my big aha for the day–I realize that I often don’t make a very good first impression. I suspect that you could ask five people who just met me in different circumstances and get five very different first impressions. When I’m “on” (such as when I’m doing my public speaking thing), I have been told that I come across as an extroverted, funny, and smart. But if you meet me at a reception, you’d likely think “What a personality-less dud.” Or maybe just “Rude.” And if I have ever ignored you walking down the street, it was (probably) not intentional. I once walked right past two people I’d just had dinner with it…and truly did not see them. See, I live in my head. It’s a busy place (think: Alice in Wonderland meets Salvador Dali with Transformers everywhere) and I’m often so immersed in it that I don’t even see the “outside” world. I’m working on being more present and more mindful, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.
What kind of first impression do you make? Have you ever thought about it? Has anyone ever said anything to you about it? I’ve told a few people that turned out to totally rock that I had, um, less-than-stellar first impressions of them and that I was happy to be wrong.
My food for thought today.
Carpe lasting impressions.