So yesterday, I had a real life situation come to me that underscored the importance of being conscious of the impression you make -- or could potentially make -- on someone you meet for the first time.
Last November, I was in a car vs. pedestrian accident -- no joke, I was hit by the pizza delivery guy in my own neighborhood as I was taking a walk after dinner. As a result, I'm in twice-weekly physical therapy for a hip sprain/strain that is stubborn in healing. As luck would have it, someone who could be potentially influential to SocialSmarts was in town from Europe, attending partner meetings with another group. I was invited to stop by for an introduction and an opportunity to bond a little over SocialSmarts. However, one problem: the time I was supposed to stop by was directly after my physical therapy appointment; I would be wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt. I really wasn't comfortable meeting the "big guy" dressed like that. My contact assured me that it was just fine -- the guy was casual, the whole atmosphere of the meetings at that point were relaxed...it would "okay" for me to come as I was.
Only I couldn't do it. I'm the head of an organization that provides training and consulting for kids and professionals on social skills, etiquette and manners. What impression would I make -- casual or no -- if I appeared in sweats, regardless of the reason? I decided to simply send materials for review and opt for a, hopefully, later opportunity. This gentleman already is reading a copy of my book, so he has an expectation of who I am, and, thereby, how I likely present myself. I didn't want to give him the wrong impression or change an impression he previously had based on what he had seen/read.
A flashback I had of me while I was in college came to me later that same day. This must have been...oh, only 10 years or so ago (just kidding!), so it was a clear image. I was an Information & Computer Science Major in college, and I was continually encountering other students in the computer lab who would approach me for a conversation late in the evening or other times when we were working on assignments. At some point, the discussion would come around to Continue Reading »