At the Primary level, all of us were made aware of the dictum," First impression is the last impression ". But, is that true? Because at school we were also introduced to adages like," All that glitters is not gold"; " Try, Try, until you succeed "; The face is no index to the heart" (I remember writing a contrary essay in the Fifth Standard on " Face is the index of the mind"). So ,are all these proverbs meant to be used to suit the demands of a situation or are they meant for universal applicability, with no limitations of time, occasion, geography or culture? It is menacingly perplexing, because all famous writers and authors have used them to suit their view or plot. I am of the view , these adages are framed in a format malleable enough to be moulded to fit a circumstance. The circumstance, here, for the scribe , is to use it in the context of a corporate/ professional and personal life too.
A prestigious university of the United States of America has elaborated the concept that first impressions are important, because you can make them only once. All efforts, post the first impression to fortify or undo it, including presentation of credible evidence, to the contrary, doesn't demolish, entirely, the original impression formed.
The human mind rushes to judge people based on attractiveness, inclusive of physical looks and spiritual aura. The likability, trustworthiness is measured in a minuscule second--- which is in most cases firm and unalterable. Sizing up in a fraction of a second, the first impressions, are for some correctable, those who subscribe to this vein of thought, say in defence of it, that there is a sizeable body of information, where first impressions proved to be incorrect and untrue. The diehard followers to the captioned dictum, however, are convinced that the first "few" minutes reveal the state of mind and heart. There are therefore two opposing poles of responses to how important first impressions are. The pendulum of justice between these two extremes settles, actually, somewhere in the middle, unless the situation being encountered is so pronounced on either side, that the first view gets cemented permanently.
What is considered attractive for a good and sound first impression? Infectious smile or an endearing look in the eye; smile adds to nobility, and hence is a weapon of mass destruction to the formation of any negative, first impressions.
First impressions have a life beyond the first moment. They can be correct and accurate, but could also be otherwise. Never judge a book by its cover ; so first impressions have a loaded propensity to be not true and representative of reality. Similarly, wearing a designer suit with an accompanying impressive neck tie, to a meeting or conference, doesn't offer assurance of either the person being good or that the content of the material delivered will be immaculate.
Meeting anyone for the first time for whatever reasons, professional or personal, we all by nature, attempt , with care, caution and hopeful enthusiasm to make a very good impression about ourselves, as is said, 'we put the best foot forward '. The best is exhibited , even if it be untrue, and the worst is masked, even if that be true. Said differently, it means , what is shown doesn't reflect reality, and those who indulge into such first impression making, go towards making a powder keg for themselves, which, with no doubt, over time, explodes and exposes the true face.
There is nothing wrong with making an effort to make a good first impression, so long as it is not meant to be deceptive. To be able to make a good impression, it must be accompanied by stability of thought and action, so that it is lasting, abiding and enduring. First impressions are made , they are either negative or positive; indifference is a rarity. Those who form no impressions are individuals who are obsessed with their own selves to the extent that all others have nothing worthy to look at or appreciate... These types of managers and leaders abound in abundance too, they have an inbuilt mechanism that tilts them towards narcissism and arrogance. This is a reality.
An impeccable bad taste in attire can again influence the first impressions, rather badly, especially if it is an interview call appearance; it must be known that it is inappropriate to wear jackets ( Burgundy colour), with velvet lapels, and the atrocious purple tie to match the oddities. I faced an interviewee, (that is captured in the earlier lines) but to which I took no offence, but instead, after the interview took him to my office and politely counselled him on the subject. He was of course hired, not for the first impressions, but for the skill and ability, demonstrated during the later part of the interview.
Women must dress modestly with no shocking colours, and with no prominent designer items on themselves. William Shakespeare apt remark about attire, in Hamlet, reads, " Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not expressed in fancy; rich not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man". ( Readers can add women to the quote).
The first impression is not restrictive to any given set of expectations, it is actually, wide and extensive, in its application. Everyone wants to look ' good' in the eyes of others; yet there are many , who do not match with the required efforts to make oneself, distinct and distinguishable, from others. Every single word we make before others either enhances the impression and reputation or reduces it , irrevocably and irreparably. Hence we must remain cognisant of how much to speak in preference to the calmness of silence.
Deceit is a lie that wears a smile. Malicious personality cannot be concealed by a pretence of gentleness or friendliness; it is absolutely implausible that the falseness wouldn't be discerned. Nobody should be confident that they can lead others up the garden path; none should try to pull the wool over a person's eye, for certainly and surely, the veneer of falsifying the exterior, to make the first impression, is too thin, and it wears off in quick time.
The imperative, but positive, need of making the required effort for making a lasting good first impression, that is abiding, cannot be overemphasised. In case of say, making an appearance for a job interview, it is essential, to prepare...there is no harm in making sincere effort to look good in the eyes of the interviewer; significant is the need that the attire is chosen with care, proper grooming of hair is done, and the selection for the dress, must remain in conformity to the demands of the office desired. Readers may have watched on TV channels , a care-taker chief minister, doing his day's work (night, too!) goes out to meet people in denim jeans! Shows lack of seriousness to the task and the challenges... clothing informally, breeds familiarity and hence, the ultimate killing incompetence. Politicians for oath taking adorn Sherwani( tunic) usually of black color, these are usually borrowed; and it makes economic sense to not have them custom made , but be borrowed, because the oath does not outlive, the time office is held. The speed and rapidity of change is stark and naked. Following this analogy , the scribe recommends for all professionals, except, the politicians, for getting a custom made suit that will last and be required, post the interview.
Positive attitude, clear and clean mind , with the necessary attire enables creation of inward tranquility, that becomes the powerhouse of exposition, for others to see and recognise. The quality of education received must find itself represented upon the personna; these elements must remain a delight to watch and must be visible as sources of vital abilities. Those who read extensively are enabled by its regularity of practice towards speaking well and intelligently. " Reading maketh a man", said Francis Bacon. The opening lines of any interview/ conversation or verbal engagement set the tone of the proceedings to follow. A contentious or inappropriately worded opening line will ensure a disastrous end.
The many aspects that influence first impressions are timeliness, presentation skills, communication abilities, confidence , a disarming, but genuine smile, openness , positivity in speech and in silence, courtesy , Grace , dignity and attractiveness. There shouldn't be an overt exuberance to impress...These efforts get thwarted like shifting sand.
Personally, I am a committed subscriber to the dictum, that face is the index to the mind. One of Mother Nature's Greatest system design is that, the face unbeknownst to oneself, reveals, what the breasts conceal. If it is goodness that resides within, the face will be beauteous with flaming positivity; and in case of those who sow, cultivate seeds of discord at workplaces or anywhere else too, end up reaping the bitter harvest of their toil and efforts, which is writ large on their faces. It is Nature's handiwork that cannot be managed for results as desired, to either mask or camouflage any deep seated negativity. In such situations, first impressions are made without the utterance of a single word . The " unsaid" communication of vibes and feelings is a great medium for making or breaking an enduring First Impression.
It must always be a factor reigning upon the mind , to monitor actions, that the first Impression most likely becomes your personality's insignia or logo for life time. Hence essential to make a good impression and then to keep it protected for ever.
– The writer is a senior banker and a freelance columnist