How you present yourself, is how people view you. What are you showcasing?
Every time you interact with anyone, this creates an opportunity to leave an impression, a good one that layers onto the next and builds connection, trust and rapport. That is why I don’t believe in one off first impressions, I believe every impression is a first impression. When you treat each conversation and interaction with this in mind, you will focus on who you need to be and what you need to do and convey in that moment.
Conversations take up over 80% of our time at work so there is a lot of opportunity to build on this skill. This doesn’t mean you discount the effort and thought that goes into creating a good first impression, this simply means you build on it each time. Whether your interactions are face to face, via Skype or phone take the time and thought to work on this. I liken it to painting a wall. The first impression is the primer, with the remaining layers of paint and the top-coat building on lasting quality, durability and aesthetics.
Don’t rely on your last impression to get you by, layer and build on it to reinforce the energy and impression you want to project. They say the average time it takes for someone to form a first impression of you is approximately 36 seconds, not long at all so be mindful of what is in that 36 seconds each time you interact with peers, your team, clients and anyone for that matter.
A few weeks ago I ran a two day “Targeted Communication” program to a large leadership team. The engagement was fantastic, the contribution deep and the rapport and connection made it a great first morning of the 2 day immersion. Over lunch, I caught up with the HR Director and was told that news had leaked that morning regarding an upcoming merge and restructure that was going to occur in January 2017. With this in mind, I didn’t rely on the deep rapport and engagement I had with the group prior to lunch. I knew that they would enter the room post lunch with feelings of shock, uncertainty and what I would imagine to be a deep distraction.
If I had relied on the rapport we had prior to lunch I would have maybe lost the group and all the great work from the morning session. With permission from HR, I opened the session after lunch saying that I had heard the news and opened the floor to discuss this and ways we could manage the change over the next few months. Doing this showed I had empathy, it showed I cared and made the time and didn’t just sweep things under the rug in order to get through the workshop. Taking the time to rebuild the energy and engagement put us back 30 minutes but resulted in the team focusing on the right things and they were happy to get back into the workshop.
In between the time you see your team, your clients or peers you don’t know what is happening in their world or how they are perceiving your actions and so many other variables. Make a conscious effort to make an impactful impression at every interaction. It may only take a few seconds or minutes and the pay off can be huge. Think about your energy and how you are projecting this, think about commonalities you can discuss or questions about something from the last time you caught up.
This shows you listened and makes the other person or persons feel important. EQ is so important here, tap into the other person and build real rapport not what I call typical rah rah. By tapping into the other person this it gives them an opportunity to share what has been going on in their world since you last caught up and can then dictate and steer the conversation as to where it needs to go. Don't assume things are as they were at the last interaction you had.
Renée has just published her first book “Limitless Leadership” – A guide to leading from the inside out.
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Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished author, facilitator, speaker, trainer and coach who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations.
She passionately helps leaders fulfil their full potential resulting in increased motivation, communication and connection. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioural change around leadership, communication, transition, presenting and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.
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