By Jennifer D. Kluge
June 4, 2009
They say you have 30 seconds to make a good impression, perhaps not.
I was in a first time meeting with a key leader in our community. This person was frazzled. He interrupted our meeting five times leaving the room for about a minute each time. He had his BlackBerry on and glanced at it every 30 seconds. Not a good first impression. My thoughts were, this person is a self-absorbed jerk, rude, unorganized and couldn’t care less what I was there for. I couldn’t of been more wrong.
So often, we judge. We judge someone as soon as they walk into a board meeting. We judge someone on a phone conference call. We judge someone at the grocery store. We judge our own employees by their style, their life choices and their interactions with us. This subliminal judging of others happens in the first 30 seconds of interaction for each interaction, and lingers forever. Therefore 30 seconds of your day, for each person you interactive with you are judging and being judged, quite harshly as a matter of fact. This includes the staff you lead.
The key is to disengage this “judging” factor. Old school business executives, as I have seen, would say “tough” these are my rules, now deal with them and get the results we need. Or, well I am not doing business with you, we don’t work that way.
I ask you to experiment with me, take the first 30 seconds of daily interaction and repurpose it:
-¢ Think about that person as a whole; their life their struggles, their choices.
-¢ Take a moment to imagine yourself with those struggles and those choices.
-¢ Assume that if you were that person you would probably be similar to a good extent.
-¢ Release any initial judgment; and turn those thoughts into a “wonder why” assessment.
I’m not asking you to be naÃÂ¯ve or get taken, but to take a step back and pause for a moment.
Back to our community leader, I paused, thought about if I had his job and came to the conclusion that his stress load is overwhelming him. He must be working on something big, that is significant to us all. He’s nervous, he’s stressed and has some anxiety over this program. The compassion kicked in. The truth was he was very interested in what we had to say. He didn’t want to cancel the meeting and actually added us to his program that day. So when I repurposed my 30 seconds of judging, I could understand that situation better. If I had gone with my initial 30 second old school judgment, it would have been a mistake.
You have 30 seconds-¦ready, go!