Brief Encounters of the Important Kind

May 13th, 2010

Have you thought about the impression you are making in your every day life?

How conscious are you in the elevator, talking with the receptionist or lobby guard, walking on the street or down the hall, answering the phone (particularly when distracted or in a hurry), or shooting off that quick email response?

Rarely will others tell you what they really are thinking about you. Yet, these brief encounters can create lasting influence.

It is in these unconscious micro moments that we create our personal and professional “know-ability”. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink calls this phenomenon “slicing.” Others create inferences and conclusions about the most subtle body language and voice tone and then develop their own response to what they perceive quickly and unconsciously. These reactions lead the observer to experience feelings, conclusions, responses and reactions that we might do well to consider before we act.

Behavior that is consistent with your desired impact becomes increasingly important in today’s workplace.  Glass offices, crushing goals, long hours, the ever raising bar and demanding deliverables are the perfect storm for interpersonal sensitivities, reactivity, and abrupt shooting from the hip.  Brief, unpleasant encounters can provide long lasting reactions which include distrust, avoidance, and poor performance at a time when collaboration, innovation and engagement are critical to business success.

Tips and Tools

Here is a very simple five step way to make your own impression consistent and conscious.

I call this activity “Your Impression Ping”

1. First, think about the impression you want to create around you–how you want to be known, remembered, spoken about.
2. Write down 5-7 adjectives that you want others apply to you in every interaction, in a “slice”, when they talk about you to others, and particularly when there is intensity, change or conflict in the workplace.
3. Envision the behaviors that support these descriptors. How do you need to speak, act, interact to elicit your desired colleagues’ conclusion?
4. On one of those very convenient Post It notes, or in your to-do list, memo or note book, write down your adjectives. Some of my clients like to create a secret code word, anagram or mantra. Place your “Ping” someplace where you will see it several times a day.
5. Particularly when stretched, stressed, tired or busy, take a moment before reacting to “reset” your behavior in line with your desired impression.

Try it and let me know how it works for you!

5 comments on “Brief Encounters of the Important Kind

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    I like this. Conclusions and judgments will occur anyway -why not be proactive about then? Thanks

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