Okay not really. Today, I met with a person who would presumably be adverse to my position in a particular case. I employed a lesson I’ve learned over the years. Set the tone of interaction first. Place your “ally cards” gently on the table. They will follow your lead.
One of the most important lesson I’ve learned in the last few years is that more often than not once a tone of interaction has been set by one individual that tone will permeate through the rest of an interaction between people.
As humans we look for tones. We look for clues as to the feelings, positions, and stance of others. And very often we set our own feelings, positions, and stance accordingly. When we first begin an interaction we wait to see what stance another will take. Are we allies or enemies? If someone comes out guns blazing we arm ourselves. If someone comes out gently, cheerfully, and respectably we will do the same.
This morning I gave the person I was meeting with the tone of friendship. I smiled. I asked her how the drive over was and insisted that she tell me where she purchased her scarf. When it was time to get to business she was on my side (even though she probably shouldn’t have). It was magic. It is magic what being nice can produce. And the beautiful thing of it all is how good it feels just being nice, even when there is no benefit. It’s a win/win/win situation. You feel good, they feel good, and you’ve created an ally to assist in your work. Go out of your way to set the tone! Only good things can come of it.
Albert Einstein once said: “American youth has the good fortune not to have its outlook troubled by outworn traditions.”
Is this still the truth? Have we continued to define success and happiness “the American Dream” by the same outdated markers? Does success still mean college, job with benefits, condo, marriage, children, house in the suburbs, BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, work, vacation home, 4 long weekends, two one week vacations, repeat for 40 years, retire in Florida? And when did the American Dream become a collective, monolithic, shared dream? What if we dared to redefine success and happiness? What if we redefined the “American Dream” with dreams of our own, our own definition of happiness and we truly embraced the fact that our generation is different, not lazy or idealistic as they would have us believe, but we have different tools which provide a freedom we should not be ashamed of. What if we dared to be different?
Making a good first impression is important but what is lasting is your last impression.
I am currently working with a number of talented individuals both professionally and outside of work. I have had the opportunity to work, on project basis, with some creative and professional individuals and groups. Unfortunately, I have come across providers and that look great on paper, provide awesome presentations of their services and abilities, have engaging representatives, yet are less than impressive while providing whatever service they have been hired to provide. Will I ever use them again? No. Will I recommend them? Absolutely not. Will I warn against them if asked? Of course. The same goes for individuals on a personal level.
It is fine to be charming. ::pew, pew, wink:: But, you must back it up with some substance. Be engaging over time. Be persistent and consistent. Do not offer more than you can give. Because it is what we have done while on a job or project, it is how we leave the meeting and what we have said, it is the last word, the last paper, the last article, the last discussion, the last engagement that sticks. The first impression gets us in the door, the last impression opens more doors.
Be consistent. Be persuasive. Be charming. And no matter what you don’t eff the last impression.