What do you think of when you think of the word impressions? The first thing that pops in my mind is first impressions of people, places, objects, and even animals. I studied sociology like many of you in college. I was told as an experiment to observe people all around me. The impressions that formed in my mind, were not a reality, but rather my perception of everything around me.
Isn’t that a common thought? When you are trying to catch that special person’s eye, you try to look your best most of the time. You act a little giddy, most of the time a little nervous, and you tend to get a little tongue tied. If the majority of you have never done this in your life, then let me apologize now. This has been very true for me. I know that first impressions of me have sometimes been really good, really bad, or blah.
When we go for that promotion or for a job that we really want, what kinds of impressions are we leaving? I think it’s safe to say that most of us want to leave a very positive impression. Do we always succeed? No. But the perception is that we feel if we leave a positive impression, then we will be more successful than someone who leaves a poor impression.
Years ago, I went for a promotion at work. I thought I had done my interview well. Everything seemed to go very well but they went with someone who had more seniority than I did. I wondered if that was really the case or if they didn’t want me at all. I didn’t know about proper interview etiquette. It didn’t dawn on me to send a thank you note after the interview. I didn’t follow through on the position and that was a very powerful learning tool for me. I no longer make that error.
As I’ve studied over the years, I’ve learned that there are several key ways to make good impressions. One of the first ways is to allow yourself to be at ease. Not everyone is going to seem like they are way out of your league. That isn’t to say be casual but at the same token, be aware that the person you are speaking to is just another person. Don’t think about if they have the power to make or break something for you. Treat them with the same respect that you expect others to treat you.
I’ve said this in other blogs and it bears repeating. Ask a lot of questions. No one wants to be around a know it all unless they can learn from that person. When you don’t ask questions and assume you know the correct answers, sometimes you can either look like a pompous jerk or like you are bluffing your way through everything. I’ve seen this first hand. I can’t tell you how many different kinds of jobs I’ve seen and experienced with people who didn’t ask what kind of work was expected, didn’t understand the companies they went to work for, didn’t have customer service skills, etc., all end up hating the jobs they got because they didn’t get information beforehand. This could have been avoided. They could have ended up in jobs better suited for them instead of settling.
Notice your body language. How are you projecting yourself? Do you love your job? If not, does everyone know that you do or are you just existing in your day to day job to pay the bills. This is really important. If you are slouching a lot, have very little confidence or are depressed, chances are it shows. The phrase “fake it til you make it” is a really frustrating phrase, but in life it’s true.
Get to know people. People are fascinating. You may learn quite a bit about others and yourself if you are open to learning. Use some small talk to find out about what people like. Notice what they wear and how they carry themselves. Find out about them. That’s what makes networking so great. You may not get all the opportunities you want but if you aren’t willing to find out about the people you work with, then how do you know what talents others may have?
Be on time. Other articles and blogs mention this and I shouldn’t have to repeat it but you wouldn’t believe how many people are late to meetings. It’s a pet peeve of mine. Respect other people and their time table. The world doesn’t revolve around any particular individual. It does however, revolve around billions and billions of folks. It would be nice if people learned this rule of thumb of being on time.
Ask for feedback. Don’t be like the younger me and be afraid to ask for feedback. We aren’t perfect. We can however, grow from feedback whether it’s good or bad. If you don’t ask for any type of feedback, then how can you change things to make a better impression?
Lastly, be courteous. Kindness really does go a long way. I know I would much rather have someone kind talking to me than someone who makes me feel like an ant about to get squashed.
I hope this blog tonight helps you with your impressions. Most of the impressions I’ve gotten from folks have been off the mark. I think it’s because I saw the impression itself and not necessarily what they wanted to present. Sometimes we really need to look beyond the impressions but lets be honest for a minute. That’s tough. It’s critical that we look at ourselves the way others are presented with our impressions and start looking at ourselves as the beautiful, confident, intelligent people that we all are. Don’t doubt yourselves. Show the world how fabulous each and everyone of you are.