Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2004-10-06

Those Fleeting First Impressions

I've been thinking a lot of first impressions and the reasonable amount of importance we, as business owners and professionals, place on them.

Despite the progressive changes being made in the manner in which we conduct ourselves at the office or over lunch, there's still much talk about how good first impressions can really make or break a deal. We're not so unlike other animals, relying on physical appearance and body language to determine our next action or response.

But what does occur to me is the artificial ways in which we go about creating that impression. There's no fixed rule that good first impressions are made by way of a suit and tie, or being a good listener, or fine tuning the art of the handshake. While all of these things are fine, too many other people use the same techniques.

Am I going to be particularly dazzled by the guy or gal in a nice blue suit, when there's a sea of conservatively dressed, well mannered professionals around? Now, I am not suggesting a week without a shower and a turquoise dinner jacket. What I am suggesting is that making a first impression means more than donning the standard garb and cliches.

I've always found that a person with genuine enthusiasm for what they do will create lasting impressions. Their passion is contagious and memorable. They get away with eccentricity or unorthodox dress because it adds to their already interesting charm.

An example of this would be the impression Hugh MacLeod left on me with his blog, Gaping Void. For anyone who has read Hugh's blog, you'll understand what I mean when I say it is quirky, smart, and irreverent. Very irreverent, in fact. For a prudish North American like myself - hah - the language and sexuality displayed can seem somewhat shocking. But with a little time invested in reading the content, you realize you've stumbled across one of those people with a genuine passion for what they do. His enthusiasm is contagious.

As much as I'd like to avoid the "to thine own self be true" mantra - there's a lot to that simple concept that cannot be overlooked.

Don't get locked into the sterilized version of what you're supposed to look like, do, and say. There are too many robotic business people out there already.

When you are following your heart, inspired by your work, and deeply interested in learning - great first impressions will follow.
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