Anywhere Anytime

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE LASTING IMPRESSIONS

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Every Thought is a Decision

Did you know that every thought is a decision, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” “That’s bad,” or “That’s good.” Throughout our day, we are making constant decisions about everything that enters our mind. The smallest element of thought is a decision. In most cases, we don’t dwell on any of these, but they stack up by the end of the day and create either a “great day” or “bad day.” 

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We also make decisions that impact our lives, such as buying a car, choosing a degree, or deciding on which job offer to accept. In these situations, we take more time collecting information and wrestling with our value system, “should we or not?”  These decisions have a greater impact on our attitude, feelings, and senses of positive or negative thoughts.

First Impressions in the Workplace

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In business, employees will make decisions about their overall satisfaction in working for their employer based on their small decisions through their daily interactions with their managers and leaders. A majority of these decisions are primarily based on first impressions. First impressions are the result of the first time we meet someone and include our initial impression each time we interact. In the workplace, this may include the first time you see your manager each day or each time you interact with a member of leadership throughout the week or month.

When Negative Impressions Impact the Team

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Managers and leaders can create a positive or negative first impression through their various interactions from which employees slowly make decisions about each interaction. If employees have negative first impressions through their regular interactions with their manager, those decisions will carry on through the day, add to the intensity of emotion as they build.  If they are strong enough, they can create resentment toward that employer, cause a questioning mindset, and can even boil over into a work conflict or even worse. Or it can create a highly productive day with everyone ending the day with a smile on their face.

An example of this is I’ve worked with several Fortune 500 companies with departments that have high turnover ratios. One of the primary attributes of employee turnover is managers are not building a good working atmosphere upon their first contact.  “He always comes to work mad at the world and takes it out on us.”  That then becomes the attitude for the rest of the day and spreads throughout the team, decreasing employee satisfaction and increasing the risk of quitting.  It is one of the major causes of turnover in personnel. 

Our minds become defensive relatively fast when we feel we are not respected and poor leadership at the helm.  A leader works with a person as an individual by recognizing their emotional makeup and couching all communication to have a maximum positive effect in building a trust relationship.  When this happens, employees stretch to meet your expectations and work when you are not watching.

The Importance of First Impressions in sales

Did you know that in a sales situation, a client will start making positive or negative decisions in the first five minutes of a presentation and, first of all, about the salesperson? This is critical to remember that the decisions are being made about the presenter.  Think about it; you do this every time you make a major purchase.  Then those decisions carry over into the decisions they will make about the product or service being offered, and rather to buy or think about it, sleep on.  Studies have shown the closing ratio drops by more than a half if they “sleep on it.” 

Bill has a sales company and has a sales staff of twelve people. He is an excellent salesperson himself and tries to get his sales staff to understand how to make it happen. His expectations are high and often create a confrontation with one of his salespeople. Some of these get quite emotional and demanding, and as a result, he has difficulty maintaining an experienced sales force.  “I’m hiring and training constantly and just can’t find people who want to work.” I had the opportunity to work with him for a week and actually go out with some of his salespeople on sales calls. It became clear fairly fast what Bill’s problem was in holding good salespeople. He expected to train a salesperson and have them have the same success he had when he started the company and was the only salesperson. So he became irritated when a salesperson would lose a good lead that he knew was a sure sale. 

We had a little session with just Bill and me and went over a few leadership rules that build a solid sales staff over a period of time. We talked about the hiring process, making sure you are hiring and training a person who wants to learn your system and enjoys the sales field.  Second, we talked about coaching rather than chewing out his young salespeople. I asked him to tell me some of his sales staff stories that he had difficulty getting up to speed on their product and presentation. Then I asked him the key question, what did you do to change this problem.  The answer was not good; it seems he would threaten his salespeople with, “If you want to stay working here and earning the kind of money you can earn, you had better start selling the way I want you to, or there is the door.” Most of them took the door. 

I worked with him two days on how to relate to and encourage, teach, coach and motivate his sales staff. You can’t push sales people to success, you must lead them. We created a system that used his strengths to get each sales person equipped to handle any sales situation. It took about five week until he started seeing the results.  Sales closings started increasing and turnover dropped dramatically in that short period of time, and he had been trying to build a successful company for twelve and a half years. 

How to successfully manage every first impression

In our program, we teach how to relate to your client or employee in the all-important first five minutes of every interaction.  You have heard the saying, I am sure, that first impressions are lasting impressions.  The first five minutes of any relationship set the tone for that presentation or that day.  Creating a positive working relationship with anyone in the first five minutes will set the stage for a highly productive relationship for your presentation or the day in the workplace.  This is not a difficult thing to do; it just takes some understanding of the people you relate to and uses creative thinking and communication. Here three easy steps to creating lasting first impressions every time:

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  1. Begin with questions – the best first impression you can make is asking questions. This is because it means you accept them and are interested in their thought process, interests and wants, and needs in their life. Questions also create an open mind. If I want to provide direction to an employee in a way that will be well received, put it in a question format, which minimizes any resistance. There is always less resistance to questions than to orders. The tendency is to blame or find fault in others. Keep people above the line with positive questions vs. negative statements. Negatives take people below the line.
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  1. Compliments – “One of the best things about having you on the team is that I can count on you.” Compliments create positive responses, which in turn create working relationships or closed sales. In sales, it creates an open mind accepting your sales presentation. Too many salespeople make the mistake of making their presentation before the mind is open. The prospect is questioning everything you say in their mind, not verbally, but in their minds, and will conclude based on how many negative decisions they make, not positive.
  1. Appearance and body language – Eye contact, handshakes, and hand placement, leaning into conversation all play key roles in nonverbal communication. That said, with so many introductions and meetings made virtually through web conferencing and the phone, other factors, including tone of voice, choice of words, pauses, pace, and volume of your words, and more vital than ever.  If I talk long and then hesitate or have hesitations, the person wonders if you are afraid of what you will say or not confident.

How do you plug it in?

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You may be saying to yourself, “these are great insights, but how do I actually change my own behavior and make it stick?” Here is the key, it takes 28 days to form a new habit and you have to work it. Here is an approach that will help you make a change:

  1. Measure your success over the past week. Mentally review each first impression and assess what you did. Focus on the positive first impressions and let this give you enthusiasm for the next week.
  2. Recognize the downside of last week and make corrective behaviors for the next week.
  3. Seed list – sit down and write a list of things you don’t like about yourself and transfer those words into a seed list. From weeds to seeds in the garden of your mind. Every day read the seed list; as those seeds become a part of you, you take them off the list.

Our program entitled ”How To Relate To Anyone” goes into great detail on how to understand any person you are working with and building a productive communication and working relationship.  Check out our first free lesson to see if it can assist you in building a high success rate with anyone you meet or work with.

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