The success books will tell you that a first impression is critical to your success. I don’t see it that way. More times than not, it takes much longer to develop trust.
We all know people in our lives where the respect for them grew over time. I remember one-time years ago we were interviewing for a new pastor at our local church. One of the candidates was a very soft-spoken man that didn’t give off a bold first impression but he just had this thing about him that made you like him . We hired him and after the first year we realized that while he spoke softly, people related to him. He seemed to be everywhere at all times when someone needed him and he church grew under his leadership. If we had based our decision on first impressions, we would have never hired him and would have missed the right man for that season in our church.
In 2000 I was in a meeting where there were 10-12 people and we were meeting with a gentleman that was one of the wealthiest people I had ever met. He was not loud and boisterous but rather he was so quiet that when he spoke the entire room had to lean forward just to hear him. His first impression was one of a calm self confidence that was so infectious that 18 years later I can still remember the setting.
First impressions are very good and frankly what we should strive to achieve but don’t get caught up in feeling as though you have failed if you made a less than great first impression. One of my dearest friends in the world is an attorney and client who tells the story of the first time we spoke together. To hear him tell it, I apparently stuttered on the call and he said he picked out three words he could understand (ha) and formed his response off those three words. It makes me laugh every time I think about this. I finally met with this gentleman and we development a brother level friendship and today, if I needed someone at 3am, he is the guy I would call.
Therefore, first impressions are important and helpful but don’t let anyone make you believe that it is the only impression that matters. Trust, belief and friendship grow over time and generally does not happen during the first impression. KT