A REDO On First Impressions

Posted by Richard Moran.

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The first time I met Tom we both said “Hey!” and extended our hands to shake. Maybe neither of us had eye hand coordination that day or we weren’t paying attention, but, we missed. We didn’t miss each others outreached hands altogether, but the shake was not quite right, the hands didn’t quite clench together. There were awkward thumbs and angles. It happens all the time but with Tom, he said, “Wait a minute, that’s not a good one, let’s get a proper handshake. Come on.” And with that, we shook hands again and it was a good handshake. We became good friends and I always respected his honesty and forthrightness.

Tom and I had a REDO on the first impression. And what was an awkward first exchange became a positive one. The lesson is not in the handshake but in the REDO. Tom taught me long ago that if something is not quite right in that first minute, sometimes it’s ok to pull the REDO card out.

The old adage “You only get one chance to make a first impression…” is true. Mostly. Lots of times we know when the first impression is not good. If you know right away that you did not put your best foot forward, don’t just accept it – change it.

Like, if you spill your coffee walking into a conference room with colleagues, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Say something about it and go for the REDO.

Or, in an interview if the first five minute just goes sideways and the interviewer is about to mentally check out, stop the interview. Say something like, “Wait, I am just not presenting myself as I would like, and I am not giving you a true impression, let me start all over.” You have nothing to lose in the interview, why not try the REDO?

Conversely, the REDO can work when you suspect someone is about to go in the wrong direction in the initial interaction. In a recent meeting with a junior PR person, she started out by asking me, “How would you describe your job?” I replied, “College President.” Her follow up question was, “What are your duties?” At that point I stopped the meeting and helped the PR person better understand first impressions (as well as how to do a little research). I did the REDO for her and she was thankful. We now have an honest and productive relationship.

A handshake is one of the first things we do when greeting someone new. It is a metaphor for what can go write or wrong in those first seconds and how we can get second chances for that first impression. Sometimes.

A REDO can save a career.

Olympic Lessons – Stay Out of Riptides

Posted by Richard Moran.

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No piling on intended here. It’s just that lessons come out of the headlines every day that can be instructive when it comes to work. Of late, some Olympic athletes are a case in point. In the midst of all the commotion and TV interviews what can we learn?

From most athletes we learn that years of hard work can pay off and provide a route to medals and glory. What joy we share when an athlete realizes that a lifelong dream is being fulfilled. It can be a lesson for us non-athletes to rededicate ourselves to our profession, our family, our commitment to making the world better in the hopes we might realize some sliver of that same joy.

From others, we can learn what not to do. A few illustrative cases…

  • From some swimmers we can learn that when it’s time for an excuse, the phrase “alcohol was involved” is not a good opener. Not much good happens after that introduction.
  • We can learn too that video cameras are everywhere – at service stations, at work, in parking lots, even in places where you might not suspect cameras. And this phenomenon is true in all countries. Assume that there is video footage capturing what you do wherever you go and the video footage doesn’t lie. In short, you will get caught.
  • Last lesson from the headlines: the more well known you are, or the higher you are in the organization, the more likely it is that you will get caught. If you are one who brings attention to yourself through flamboyant dress or hair, you will get caught faster.

It’s a shame. Careers and reputations can take years to build, but only a few moments to destroy. Re-do’s are not an option. Once a reputation takes a hit, it is possible to resurrect it but it is difficult task and takes a lot of effort. Think about that before the last drink at the company picnic or holiday party. Lessons are everywhere that can help us be more successful and not waste time on “wish I hadn’t done that”. Be careful out there!

Annoyed at Work? All the Little Things Matter

Posted by Richard Moran.

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Forget the “size matters” thing. Big things don’t happen every day. What matters are the millions of little, sometimes very little things, that are in our every day world and how we deal (or not) with them.

A colleague came to the office daily with a piece of fruit that she just brought from the grocery store. And every day she struggled to remove the little tag that was on the fruit. We all know those little tag can be a bear to remove and every day she cursed the tag and let it annoy her to the point of ruining her first hour on the job. Co-workers learned to stay away from her until she recovered from the fruit tag incident. It’s not that big of a deal, especially if you buy fruit every day. Maybe she should switch to bananas.

But many of us deal with tags on fruit metaphorically speaking. Instead of approaching the day with vigor, something small things can set us off and set a tone of gloom and resignation. And the worst thing is, we get used to the thing that bugs us and we don’t realize that it is affecting our work. Don’t believe me? Take the test to see if you are working while slightly annoyed.

  • When you flip on the switch is there one light bulb that flickers and buzzes all day? You are annoyed when you turn it on and get used to it.
  • Is there a broken arm on your work chair or is your chair always out of adjustment and uncomfortable?
  • Is your printer not working right and blinking at you to just annoy you further?
  • Does the bad smell of reheated burritos in the company microwave make you want to vomit?
  • Are you in the cue waiting for someone from IT to fix something? And you keep getting bumped on the list?
  • Do yellow stickies magically appear on your computer screen when you are not at your workspace? Do they all say, “See me ASAP”.
  • Are you always the person who deals with the empty coffee pot or get to the bathroom when there is no toilet paper?
  • Do you always get to use the whiteboard right after someone wrote with non-erasable marker? Or when there is a “Do Not Erase” message on it?
  • Is there always a box of half eaten pizza around? And it looks sort of appealing?
  • Does the guy in the workspace next to you play his music too loud even though he is on headphones?
  • Is there one co-worker with whom you have a nagging and annoying relationship that you cannot resolve?

The list can go on and on and on. Call them hygiene factors or call them the daily nuisances that detract from the job you should like. The little things can add up and be like a mosquito flying around in the bedroom at night. For most annoyances, there is a solution.

Fix the arm on the chair, change the light bulb, talk to your co-worker and resolve the differences, throw the pizza away, get a new printer and move on.

Sure, not everything can be fixed – just deal with the label on the fruit. But eliminating the little things that bug you can make a world of difference in how you approach a job that you might actually like.

What’s on your list?