“Almost everyone will make a good first impression, but only a few will make a good lasting impression.”
Well. First impressions don’t matter. Ok. Maybe that was a little harsh. Let me suggest that final impressions are arguably more important than first impressions.
No. let me try that again.
Let me say I believe that final impressions are more important than first impressions.
I am fairly sure that I have always thought this and have continuously balked at the ‘make a good first impression’ emphasis throughout my career <and Life>. But I would say this thought has become more tangible as I have gained more & more experience.
I will also say that all impressions matter. First, middle & last. However … most typically we judge our experiences based on what we experience last and not what happened at the beginning. We most often judge based on the last impression imprinted upon our perceptions & beliefs <this is extremely important if you care about memory recall>.
The last impression puts a period <question mark, exclamation point, comma, etc.> on the totality.
The last impression can be the pin that pops the balloon of value you created throughout the experience.
The last impression can provide the ellipsis <pun intended> the suspension point offering hope for more.
And while I am focused on last impressions I don’t want to totally diminish a first impression nor ignore the fact that it is really, and truly, more about a compilation/summary of impressions.
I will say we talk a shitload about how first impressions matter to us a lot in our lives <to us and for us> seemingly ignoring that we are actually evaluating things all the time.
Look. Think about it. If you start off on the wrong foot, is there really no chance of recovery?
<of course there is>
If you start poorly, are you doomed to fail?
<of course not>
I could easily argue that 90% of the time I can overcome a bad first impression. I could easily argue that first impressions maybe get you in the game <I say maybe>, but last impressions are … well … the last.
Oh. In addition. Let’s be clear <continuing to make my point>. Regardless of ‘good first impression’ or ‘bad first impression’, there is always the last impression.
There is even some guy who argues that when creating a message, in totality, you can leave the best impression if you have a slow start and conclude great <he calls it his ‘sailboat chart’>.
<while I agree conceptually … I would argue this is not a particularly healthy strategy>
** Note: I have written about the importance of last impressions in marketing.
But lets talk a little bit about how to make impressions.
Like it or not, pretty much all the time we are being evaluated through heuristics. Lets call them ‘personal value cues’ <please don’t call them personal branding cues which is different>. And we give these cues all the time … and they scream at the top of their lungs even if you aren’t looking at them. Even worse? You can even be silent and be giving a ‘value in self’ <character> cue.
Bach was a master of ‘negative space’ … building masterful musical combinations … he also used silences that are as eloquent and thought provoking as notes, tempo and syncopation.
<I used Bach because creating impressions is like composing a symphony>
Well. If you think really hard about that … well … this sucks.
This means pretty much everything you do, you don’t do, you say, you don’t say, matters
This means pretty much everything you do, you don’t do, you say, you don’t say, creates some impression.
This means pretty much everything you do, you don’t do, you say, you don’t say, creates ‘perceived value of you’ in others eyes.
<note: I am fairly sure that offers up every action, and non action, to say that pretty much just showing up, whatever you do, matters>
In fact … it reminds me of something I read:
“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count. Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.
Life and business <whether we like to admit it or not> is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial <therefore unique is basically artificial in its inevitable obseletion> where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.
Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.
Everything has to do with everything else.
Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”
Arturo Perez Revarte
That all maybe too poetic in discussing something like creating impressions and creating value, but simply put … “everything has to do with everything else.”
Suffice it to say, the first impression impacts the last impression or at least how the last is viewed. And this means people view in totality <not just first impression> and the last has higher value than the first.
In addition, the outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.
The outlines of how to create an impressions are often vague … but … suffice it to say the details count.
Everything counts in terms of making an impression.
Sure. A carefully crafted first impression that makes you stand out or make you distinct is clearly a good thing and … well … insures you get listened to. Basically, it insures you are in the game.
But, remember, this whole ‘creating an impression’ discussion is really about that wacky thing called ‘value.’
I hesitate to call anything to do with self and how people look at you as ‘value’ but if you strip away all the politically correct ‘feel good’ bullshit … people assess you for what value you will provide them <friendship, commonalities, smarts, experience, etc.>. And, if you are not careful … how you present yourself can send a different value, or price, cue than who you really are <or the value you want to portray>.
That is misaligned messaging <including non verbal cues into the messaging header>. And misaligned is bad <that is a Bruce-ism>. Particularly if the kind of impression you want to create is important to you.
Here is the thing about impressions: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. What I mean is that you gotta ‘play’ <actively engage> if you want to make an impression because even if you don’t, you make an impression. You gotta let the chips fall as they may … “my last impression may suck … it may just not be as good as my first impression but ‘give me the ball coach and let me play’” has to be your attitude. I, personally, espouse “go big or go home”, but it is more important that you figure out how you want to play … and play.
One last thought on last impressions. In today’s world we are often quick to judge off of outcome. This is the good news with regard to my “last impressions are the only thing that matters” belief. Our last impression is often the tangible. The output and the outcome.
Should it be? Sure.
But it is quite possible that the last impression judged should be ‘the measure of the person.’ And it is with that thought where the whole concept of ‘the first impression is most important’ falls apart … while our first impressions are frequently based upon instincts, impulse, intuitions and emotions; they are also built on our doubtful beliefs, not all are rational thought or fact-based evidence.
I sat that because, well, first impressions inherently suck at assessing & providing the ‘full measure’ of a person. The truth is that it is the last impression permits you to assess the ‘full measure of the person.’
The full measure assesses those who chose to play the full game. Win, lose or draw. Whether the game was thrust upon them or they thrust themselves upon the game … the ones who step up every day and every moment.
“They call me observant. That’s not particularly true.
People are so easy to read – we bleed emotions even in the way we drink our coffee. No one seems to notice though.
Giving the ‘full measure’ of someone demands that we not only bleed emotions as we bleed impressions but that we force people to stop drinking their own coffee to watch us bleed.
Inevitably that means the last impression is an impression of someone’s character more than value offered, and provided.
That’s why last impressions count the most.
Because it ain’t the first impression that matters, it is the last.
Because what lasts is the “measure of the person.” In my mind I want to make sure the last impression equals the true measure of who & what I am.