Righting a Bad First Impression


A Very Bad First Impression

A first impression can make or break an opportunity. I am guilty of having some very bad first impressions that probably kept me from connecting with people at a level that would bring about greater success for me, them, and the project we were working on. I’m reminded of my first “All-Hands Meeting” at CNSI where I work as a Senior Infrastructure Engineer. I arrived late to the meeting, which has about 75 people in the room and another 75 on a conference call. The person running the meeting was one of our project managers who I will call “Dale” to protect the innocent. The door was locked so I knocked and when I entered Dale, rather gruffly, told me that if I was going to be late to the meeting that I should just not come. This was pretty embarrassing and I’ll admit I was resentful that he had made such a public scene. After all, I  was new to the company!

Never Disregard Third-party Feedback

I came back to the office and shared with my boss, whom I will call “Chuck”, who was on the conference call and unaware who was late, that I was the person that Dale had “handed his butt” to him for being late. Chuck and I kind of laughed off the entire thing. Later on though, Chuck asked Dale, “What did you do to my Chris?” Dale was confused and Chuck reminded him of the meeting and the impact that it might have left on me.

Make it Right Immediately

I had moved on from the encounter but was very aware of Dale and a bit fearful. I haven’t been late to a meeting since so I did learn a lesson but possibly at the cost of a relationship. It happened that Dale and I were in a meeting a few weeks later and he came right up to me and apologized. He made it very clear that he did not want us to have any resentment between us and I got to see a much more jovial, compassionate side of a guy that I had thought of as a drill sergeant type.

The Power of Positive Impressions

I was in another “All-Hands Meeting” today and Dale was speaking. I noticed that I viewed him with admiration and sensed his genuine care for his audience. I wondered what I would have been thinking if Chuck hadn’t brought the encounter up to Dale and, more importantly, had Dale not sought me out to apologize and engage me.

I am no longer afraid of Dale and look forward to working with him. He has a great sense of humor and deeply cares about what we do at CNSI. My first impression of Dale was completely different than what I think of Dale now. I am so thankful that Dale thinks relationships are so important that he “righted” that first impression I had of him.

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