First Impressions
A two-way street

First impressions are extremely powerful. We are judged by the impression we make on others. We are judged
by our appearance, what we say, and how we act. In the  workplace, we have dress codes and policies to
assist in making a professional first impression. The first impression we make is long-lasting, whether in person
or on the telephone.

The impression we get from others is very important to understand as well. Our impression of others has the
same powerful affect on us. If you have a negative first interaction with a guest or customer, you will have a
first impression that could cloud your ability to interact in a positive manner the next time you have contact with
that guest or customer.

Employees should be taught how the dynamic of first impressions will affect them. The perspective on first
impressions is not taught in most businesses. You want your employees to be able to resolve issues with an
angry customer. Employees need to understand that first impressions are based on the circumstances of the
moment. The actions of a guest or customer having a bad day aren’t the true profile of who an individual is as
a total person.

First impressions can be misleading

Many years ago, I attended a medical convention in San Francisco. I wasn’t familiar with the streets in the city.
As I drove out of the city, I became disoriented; which is a nice way of saying —
I was lost!

As I turned down a side street, a bearded, elderly man with long hair ran to the edge of the street. He was
waving his arms and yelling. I thought to myself, “What the hell is this guy’s problem.” As I drove a little further it
hit me, the sign read wrong-way. I was driving the wrong-way on a one-way street.
Oops! My first impression of
the man did not serve me well.

The elderly man was trying to warn me. He was probably thinking to himself, “What the hell is this guy’s
problem!”  

My first impression was not accurate. In fact, the elderly man probably had a much more accurate first
impression of me.

Understanding first impressions will be a valuable tool for your staff in dealing with guest issues.

Fred Flanagan
Copyright © 2006                                                                     
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