I had recently moved to India from New Zealand. We were staying in a rented Villa and I had not quite made friends yet. One sunny morning as I stood in the portico, seeing off my husband to work, I heard the voice of a lady swearing at some workers who were working in the hot sun. I turned to see that rude, impertinent person; A short and stout lady with a yellow dotted umbrella. “ I said to myself shaking my head, “ I will never be able to make friends with such people”. This was my “First impression” about her.
As I settled down in that gated community which had around 80 houses, I started to meet people and made a few friends. I had been away only for a few years, but India had changed drastically in those few years. Festivals and celebrations got bigger and gaudy. Big villas, expensive cars, fancy clothes, big parties and colorful decorations. Another of “first impressions” about changed India. In my enthusiasm to be part of the new environment, I went to a “kitty-party” in the neighborhood, the very first I had ever been to. The women around me wore loud colors, heavy jewelry and patches of make-up. I felt a little out of place, in my simple attire sans any make-up or jewelry. As I was trying to familiarize myself with new faces and names, the lady with “the yellow dotted umbrella” approached me. I cringed a little, but managed to smile and introduce myself. To my utter surprise, she was dressed in a simple sari, no make-up, in fact we two stood out in contrast from the rest of the party. I am not someone who judges a person by the way they dress, so I told myself defensively, it was the way she yelled at the workers that put me off, so I will not change my mind about her. The party continued with gaudily dressed women laughing, playing and polishing off the food that was being served, like there was not tomorrow. The lady with “the yellow dotted umbrella” and I started to talk a little bit and I slowly started to see a warm and genuine person. My “first impressions” about her started to dissipate.
In the year that followed, my children, husband and I made our own first impressions about life in new modern age India, our city, work life, colleges, movies, our neighbors and many more things, some that mattered and some insignificant. Life went on like a roller-coaster ride. Little did I know that in one of those down turns of the roller coaster, my life was to change forever. And little did I know that in the process my first impression about the lady with yellow dotted umbrella would change forever too!!
That day started like any other, but by mid-day my husband left us to rest in peace. Needless to say I was a total mess, completely shattered and quite incapable of handling what was to follow. I don’t quite know how, but the lady with the yellow dotted umbrella stepped up to take charge till my family arrived from different parts of India and overseas. From that day onwards she has remained a great friend, someone I can depend on.
The point of the story? Yes, you got it!! First impression is not the last impression. It should never be. First impression is the mental image we form of someone when we first encounter them. These impressions are based on several factors like age, physical appearance, race, communication style, accent, voice etc. Our future interactions, how we treat them depends greatly on these first impressions that we form. It seems that our first impression is formed within 50 milliseconds of seeing someone’s face. According to a Psychology Professor at University of Toronto, Nicholas Rule, “Every time you see someone, even if it is someone you really know, you’re making first impressions again.”
“First impression is the last impression”, holds good, especially in the corporate world. I have been a member on several interview panels and I can confidently say that most interviewees miss out on opportunities because they fail to make that first positive impression.
If you are preparing to meet someone important and want to make a lasting impression, you should go with “first impression is the last impression” . After all you get only one first chance ever. So make the best of it. But if are forming an impression about someone, bear in mind “first impression is not always the last impression”. Avoid making judgments. Don’t judge a book by its cover!!!