Archive for the ‘First Impressions’ Category

Service of Patching Up a Bad First Impression

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

 

Photo: nz.pinterest.com

I once thought I had an infallible instinct where first impressions are concerned but I’ve been wrong too many times in both directions—thinking that someone’s great or creepy when they’re not. Regardless, first impressions are a fact of life.

Photo: thegrindstone.com

Some can’t be salvaged. There was the college freshman dressed for the beach at an interview for a scholarship where the judges and all other candidates wore business attire. Her mother tried to rescue the faux pas by claiming the wardrobe choice had been hers. It didn’t work: Competition for the generous scholarships was too keen.

In this regard, Sue Shellenbarger, who wrote “The Next Step After a Bad First Impression at Work,” in The Wall Street Journal, shared an opposite situation from which there was also no return. A job candidate wore a tailored black suit and heels to a job interview at a fashion house where all the employees dressed in casual hippie-style attire. [My opinion: She was vying for a job requiring digital skills and should have taken 10 seconds to look at the company’s website before the interview which might have given her a tip.]

Photo: thebalance.com

Nevertheless, wrote Shellenbarger, “It’s possible to recover from a bad first impression. But it takes time, effort and some nuanced skills.”

According to the reporter, quoting the author of “No One Understands You and What To Do About it,” Heidi Grant Halvorson, there’s a “tendency for the first few things people notice about someone to influence how they interpret information later.” Grant Halvorson also mentioned confirmation bias that “causes people to notice only details that confirm what they already believe. ‘People see what they expect to see,’ she says.”

If you learn that someone who has a bad impression of you is to be your new boss Grant Halvorson suggests you try to “build familiarity with a casual greeting or wave” at the gym or cafeteria—be seen frequently, but don’t stalk.

Photo: cartoonstock.com

Other suggestions from experts Shellenbarger quoted follow. I don’t agree with them all:

  • Be early for meetings for a long time if you were late to one
  • Subtly inform a senior executive of your experience, if their impression is that you have little, by emailing the person via LinkedIn and weaving in examples that prove otherwise the next time you speak with them
  • Root for the same sports team to “dispel bias”
  • Make fun of your blunder to ease tension
  • Follow up a job interview where coverage of your accomplishments was weak, by sending strong work samples to dispel the notion
  • A job applicant who admitted to prison time for dealing meth came to the interview with a list of “self-improvement efforts” illustrating that he was no longer a criminal and the names of solid references, “prepared to answer the tough questions.” He was hired and became one of the best employees.

Have you salvaged a bad first impression or helped a colleague or friend do so? Do you think it’s an impossible, useless task and you’d best lick your wounds and move on? Do any of the tips translate to personal relationships?

Photo: prestonroad.org

Service of Expecting the Worst and Getting the Best

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Verizon Grand central flipped

Whether you dread a doctor’s appointment, party or visit to a cantankerous vendor, isn’t it miraculous when the doctor says you’re fine; the party is fun and the vendor agreeable and helpful?

I’d visited a Verizon Wireless store on several occasions before Icat takes a leap took the leap into the second decade of the 21st Century—or more accurately was pushed by my nephew who upgraded his iPhone and gave me his.

Long before, I knew I needed to upgrade but was discouraged by early forays to the store. I was off-put by the apathetic responses to my questions about the different phones and billing options. Each time sales associate reactions ranged from disinterested and dismissive to rude. I knew one thing: I didn’t want to buy anything from this crew or to ever return.

I asked around to see if there was another branch with helpful staff. Seems what I experienced was standard. I was anxious about my visit to transfer my mobile number to a different device–that required a visit–and came with reinforcements: My remarkable IT expert.

Blue ribbon for excellenceSo what happened? I won the equivalent of the best sales associate lottery last Wednesday. Tyrell Person was watching from the top of the stairs near the street entrance as I entered the Verizon store at Grand Central Station looking bedraggled with dripping umbrella, sopping shoes and soggy telephone folder. He was smiling. He said, “How may I help you? Please have a seat and you can put your umbrella over here, right near you.”

He quickly made the phone transfer, gave me an estimate of what it would cost to add my husband’s phone to my plan, [I wanted to think about this], answered all my questions and volunteered his contact information and the days he’s at work. He also sent me a text with his email address and phone number.

He was so nice that I returned this week with a few more questions, a favor and an add-on to my monthly invoice.

The favor was to replace a cracked screen protector. I was warned that it’s tricky to lay it just-so on a spotless screen without creating bubbles. Tyrell performed the operation with the expertise of a surgeon.

He also discovered that I was inadvertently doing something that wasted the iPhone battery and shared the remedy as well as a few other shortcuts as he continued to recalculate the bill. He added my husband’s phone to my plan, took the time to call my mobile number with the other phone to make sure the setup worked and to ensure that I have the right number in my phone.

In addition Tyrell remembered, from the week before, an answer I’d given about my previous usage.

In spite of charges for the additional phone, the total bill should be about what I was paying before.

The nicest part: Tyrell was pleasant, patient and kind. As I left the second time, he reminded me that I have his email address and that he checks email daily and assured me that I should come by anytime.

While he was working with me one of his other fans came by and we agreed how lucky we were to be working with him. The man said he’d be back in an hour and joked about being Tyrell’s neediest customer. So the word is out about how customer-crucial he is!

Have you expected the worst and instead enjoyed the best? Isn’t it grand?

 iphone 6 screen

Service of a Bad Sign

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Luxury for blog

A business can so easily give the wrong impression. Here are photos I took on my walk to and from work that illustrate the point.

The sign featured above inspired the post. It touts luxury apartments for rent. The fact that this dirty sign has drooped in this manner for weeks tells me that as a potential tenant, my leaky faucet, broken toilet or elevator, lack of hot water or heat will suffer similar neglect.

Nail sign for blogNot sure I’d want to have my nails done at a place with insufficient soap and water to keep its unprofessionally hung sign clean–photo right.

New Yorkers are chomping at the bit to enjoy a spring sidewalk drink or meal but would anyone consider this place featured below? Chairs and tables have been laced with boxes and filled garbage bags for days.

Have you noticed similar easy-fix neglect in neighborhoods in which you hang around?

 Restaurant sign blog

Service of Paper that Calls to You

Monday, April 25th, 2011

business-card 

A friend, writer/editor Jim Roper and I share a passion for fine quality stationery-all sorts of paper goods.  His notes and gift bags of handmade paper feel as exquisite as they look. He gave me a box of Florentine cards a few years ago. I have sent most to special people but still have a few as I have a hard time parting with them.

Jim suggested I read Lesley M. Blume’s Wall Street Journal article, “Leaving the Right Impression.” It was about the trend for people to design and use calling cards-that’s what Blume says they are, well, called these days. My husband has always referred to business cards this way but these personal cards are different in that along with a name, they provide only one bit of contact information such as a phone number.

distinguish-yourselfBlume noted that the reasons for these cards on thick, wonderful paper ranged from distinguishing oneself in a job search to “the ongoing ‘heritage’ movement-a nostalgia-tinged societal turn toward objects that last, smolder with individuality and are well-made-which has made its zeitgeisty way into the world of stationery.” She continued, “And a personalized card acts as a quiet rebuttal to the white noise jabber-jawing of Twitter and Facebook.”

I get her first reason. Distinguishing yourself in positive ways is always smart. But I wonder why people [apart from mothers and loved ones] are going to keep these beautiful cards and if they do, where. I input contact information to my smartphone as soon as I can and have no room or place to store such things whether beautiful or merely practical.

More important: toomuchworkWill the cards require the recipient to work to find you? What if a prospective employer doesn’t want to speak with you and all that’s on the calling card is your phone number? In frustration, he/she may toss the card and move to the person whose email address is easier to find.

We increasingly need to know and share everything NOW. We Google, we link, we dash off a line at midnight on a handheld phone’s keyboard. I don’t think calling cards will buck this trend. The recipient may carry the card around for ages as a bookmark [if he/she hasn’t moved to a Kindle]. My bet is that in the end, they will have no clue who gave it to them.

I’m all for encouraging face-to-face contact in favor of hiding behind a keyboard. I can’t get over being asked to jot condolence messages on websites, for example. But calling cards aren’t the answer to social networking and texting run amok.

How do you distinguish yourself? Do you think calling cards are an effective way?

distinguish-2

Service of First Impressions

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

first-impressoin

How reliable are your first impressions? Mine can be feeble. Whether good or bad, I’ve been happily or unhappily surprised by some.

eyeWhen it comes to people, lively eyes are important to me and these are evident on a first meeting. I eventually admired one young assistant whose eyes were expressionless–almost dead. My first impression of him was “blah to the extreme.” He was one of the best and fastest writers I’ve worked with and funny and bright as a bonus. [Don’t worry, it’s not you-we don’t know each other anymore.]

On the other hand several smart, amusing people, [some I thought were friends], turned out to be crooked, untrustworthy, sleazoids. One was caught with his hands in the coffers of the agency we worked for.

In this economy, I fear that we must brace ourselves for more of the latter. 

stapleswowAnd it’s not only people. Well known brands sell out and if you’re not paying attention, you’ll fall for a great price for what once was a reliable brand and end up with overpriced junk. Recent toaster and electric toothbrush purchases are two examples. Either a company is cashing in on its reputation, which is usually a death knell, or it’s fooling itself that licensing a lesser quality line won’t affect its higher-priced brand. While my first impression of the item on a store shelf with moderate price tag may be “Wow!” like the men in the Staples TV commercial, if my experience is poor, I scratch the brand from my “to buy” list forever.

mortgageapp2I tried to buy some vacuum cleaner bags on line yesterday and when I got to checkout, there was a form almost as long as a mortgage application. I clicked offline and called the toll-free number. Buying on the phone cost $2 less [on an $18 item] and the customer service person was an American who repeated all the numbers and addresses flawlessly. My impression had been that it would cost less for me to do all the work myself even though I was giving this company my email address–the passport to sending me countless emails about promotions and new products evermore. Go figure.

While I think of myself as street-smart, at times cynical [though occasionally gullible and trusting], I haven’t concocted reliable antidotes to people or companies that make their livings trying to cheat me by manipulating my first impression. Do you have any remedies or foolproof detection devices that weed them out?

geigercounter2

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