Imprinting – Why First Impressions Matter

A great example of imprinting is the old story of the ugly duckling. A baby swan was taken under the wing of a duck. Because the duck was the first thing he saw when he came out of his egg, he immediately believed he was a duck. Because he was different, the others saw him as ugly until the day he saw his reflection in the water and realized he was a beautiful swan.

This is why first impressions matter!

Is Your First Impression Imprinting?

When we meet someone for the first time, we instantly make a judgement about a person. The problem is, you could be dead wrong!

soccerplayerI’ll use the example of years ago when my son was in high school. There had been a teacher’s strike and there were no sports that year because teachers were working to rule and there were no extra-curricular activities. I didn’t like it but could respect they had a right to take job action. The following year, again, no soccer. What?! Why? Because “the teachers were still hurting from the strike” the previous year. Now I was angry.

My son came home the next day and asked if I would coach the team. He had asked all the teachers if they would coach and they declined. Then he approached the principal and got his agreement that if teachers would take turns on the bench, I could coach (insurance required a teacher present). Great! But, I woke up at 2 in the morning angry that it happened in the first place. Oh, the power of the Internet! I fired off email to the local news paper and TV stations where I knew a couple of people. I didn’t hear anything but they showed up at our first game and my son was on the news for having “made the team happen”.

According to a teacher we were providing daycare for at the time, the teachers were not happy!

The next parent council meeting, I decided to go and see what was going on at their school. You could have heard a pin drop. I could tell they were expecting a tirade as a result of the imprinting caused when we raised an issue with the soccer team. What they didn’t realize is the issue was old news to me. Done and dealt with. My reason for going to the meeting was to learn, not disrupt.

Reserve Judgement AND Behave Yourself!

ScalesTwo things to consider here. Your actions and your reactions. Don’t be that customer who comes flying in the door screaming about whatever it is that you didn’t like. The person who provided you the product or service very likely wants you to be satisfied. Your language and demeanor can make all the difference in the world. You will leave an imprint, good or bad. How do you want to be seen? How will that help you? If you are the service provider, put the shoe on the other foot. You know your client is frustrated for some reason. Recognize that it is about the situation, not you and don’t let it get personal. Take time to understand before making a conscious decision on how to react.

Remember, imprinting is natural and often based on first impressions. What do you want yours to be?

Make it a great day!


P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for patient people. I’m thankful for second chances. I’m thankful for the internet! What are you thankful for today?