The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The first impression

In today’s mail, I found an invitation for an “all new live webinar training”. Reading through it I learned that it’s for almost everyone as the promise was that it addressed “even beginners”. The program looked dense as it had five agenda items. Each of which could take hours if one wanted to go in depth.

One of the items stood out for me: “How to set the tone & impress your audience in the 1st minute”.

One reason it stood out, certainly was that I recently had gone back to listen to the first episode of Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast. In the grand opening, Seth examined how we launch things. For most of us, this includes the feeling that it is important to impress right from the start.

Looking beyond products and how they are launched, people have a similar idea about themselves. Most of us have heard many times that there is only one first impression. Science taught us, that it takes just a quick glance for someone to evaluate someone else when we meet them for the first time.

Within just a few seconds people form an opinion, or let’s say a mental image, of the other. It’s a natural reaction which serves a basic need for security. It does serve us well when the other person is genuine. But it is also impacted by a lot of aspects like the context, our own feeling at that moment, our worldviews and culture.

Sometimes logic doesn’t serve us well. Yes, there is only one first impression, but today we rarely know when it happens. The mail I received today, came out of the blue. I had to investigate it a bit to understand why I received it. In doing so I formed an idea of who the sender is. Thinking I was creating myself a first impression, I had to recognize that I once had subscribed to their mailing list. I already had a first impression and forgot it since then.

As I’ve learned to connect with many participants in numerous workshops, I can’t recall how often I’ve revised my first impressions. It’s transformative to see how learning to know a person changes first impressions.

The reason the idea of the first impression gained so much importance is the idea to make it right. And also, to make a complex task easier by focusing the attention on one moment in the process.

The hard part is to always connect as if we were always creating the first impression. It’s to be consistent in delivering on our promises. It’s to be always curious about the other instead of focusing on oneself.


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