First Impressions: Do They Matter?

"There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best."

Joe DiMaggio

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There’s an old saying that states “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I don’t know who said that, but I think they stopped short. I feel they should have concluded the quote with “but it’s their last impression of you that counts the most.”

I have a friend who was a long-time employee of a company that he loved. He kind of stumbled on the company and fell in love with the place after his first job interview there. The interviewer, as a representative of the company, made a great first impression on him. He left the company 10 years later. He told me that “it wasn’t the same company that I fell in love with.” When I asked him why, he politely told me that his new manager was not the type of person he could work for. He also said that the organization’s culture had “taken a turn for the worse” so he left the company. I know he isn’t the type of person to speak ill of others, so I didn’t press him any further. This story happened several years ago, and he still has ill feelings about the company.

There are a few morals of this little story:

First impressions are important, but it’s the last impression that endures – My friend wouldn’t have started working for that company had he not had a great first impression of the place. He loved working there for 10 years, but what does he remember about the company? He remembers the “bad manager” and the “changing culture.”

You make a first impression once, you make a potential last impression every time you see someoneEvery time you’re with someone, it could possibly be the last time you see them. If you leave them with a bad taste in their mouth, that’s what they’ll remember. Poet Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Sometimes you make a first impression and a last impression at the same time – There are times in your life when you will only meet someone once. This means that their first impression of you is also their last impression of you. I have a couple “side hustle” jobs. One of them is ushering at the VanAndel Arena in Grand Rapids MI. I strive to make a patron’s experience as enjoyable as possible. I may never see that person again, so if I made a good impression, they may want to return for future events. If I made a bad one, they might not.

Always remember that you have a chance to make a good impression during every encounter you have with another person. Make the best of it!

Kevin JurekComment