First Impressions are LASTING Impressions

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.

This or That?

This or That?

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 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 »

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Missing the Point in the Eastside Catholic Controversy

Eastside Catholic students protest about the latest instructor who has become involved in the gay marriage issue. But, students are wrong if they think the "issue" is about homosexuality.

I'm sure many of you across the country, but particularly those of you here locally in the Seattle area, have heard about the recent brouhaha at Eastside Catholic.  In the past few weeks, two of the instructor professionals have not only come out as gay/lesbian, but have also found themselves enmeshed in situations related to gay marriage.

Just this week, drama instructor Stephanie Merrow revealed that she became engaged to a woman recently. Outlets for her announcement included a local radio station where she was very direct in discussing her situation and praising students' support of her choice and actions.

Last month, a large-scale student protest ensued when Vice Principal Mark Zmuda was fired because he had married a man and kept that marriage a secret.

In both cases, students spoke out publicly and on camera, granting interviews demanding the school reconsider its policies on gay/lesbian teachers. They have boycotted classes, conducted interviews with any number of media and other groups, been outspoken in social media outlets and more. It's very admirable to take a stand for what you believe in, but I'm afraid that the students are missing a huge point... Continue Reading »

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Cheating in Sports and in Life: The End Does NOT Justify the Means

Lance Armstrong Oprah Interview CheatingOk, so everyone is talking about the Lance Armstrong interview where he "comes clean" to Oprah Winfrey. After years of taking banned substances to enhance his performance, and lying about his actions for years, he has finally admitted to his doping.

I'm not impressed by his after-the-fact "falling on his sword." As many of you already know, I have some real issues with these armchair "true confessions," particularly by celebrities and public figures. Whether it's Tiger Woods' press conference where he admits to his infidelity or Bill Clinton admitting to "improper relations" with Monica Lewinsky or John Edwards finally acknowledging his affair and lovechild while wife Elizabeth battled cancer, it just seems like a media moment that's scripted to try to salvage a seriously-eroding public image. When the Titanic is goin' down...let's point out that the iceberg wasn't supposed to be there, huh?

Particularly with sports figures, it seems that what they did is somehow understandable given their positions. Look at Barry Bonds: he breaks the home run for a single season record, but it's all been done with the assistance of steroids. When asked about his usage, he admitted to it sort of: his excuse is that his personal trainer "misled him" by making him believe the drugs were really flax seed and arthritis cream. Lance Armstrong implies that it is the expectation of winning at the level top-notch athletes that drives them to win at all costs.

Oh, so are they saying that Continue Reading »

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