She seemed like such a prude.
You’ve met her. Perhaps she was the woman at the bank handling your money, or the one at the RMV that you waited an hour to see.
“What do you need?” She sternly demands without even looking at you.
It’s not pleasant to be in need of an unpleasant person.
I used to get personally offended by people like that. Then I became one.
As a pregnant and abandoned hairdresser I had a really hard time standing in front of the mirror all day trying to make other women look beautiful when I felt so ugly and unwanted. I had never really suffered emotional turmoil before that. Sure, my family had faced some serious hardships but my parents’ strength through them all protected me from ever letting it affect my personal worth. They kept a positive attitude in their negative situations and I thought all people should be as optimistic as they are.
During the heartache of my divorce I had an epiphany: some grouchy people are simply hurting people.
It’s hard to give when you feel empty.
I wasn’t able to smile freely during my divorce but, after my epiphany, I challenged myself to put in an effort to make a better first impression on others. I also challenged myself to try to see beyond the first impressions people give me–especially those in service.
I imagine that if I’m drained because of waiting an hour to see a customer service personnel, that poor woman must be exhausted for serving a line of demands for her entire shift. I now choose to give her appreciation instead of taking offense from her. It’s far more rewarding–even if it doesn’t make her smile.
Sometimes we give a first impression that is false.
Have you ever had someone ask you if something was bothering you when you thought you were being pleasant? I have. Most of us have. In fact, almost every woman has been misunderstood in one way or another.
The problem is often our outfit.
The attitude we wear on our face affects the impressions we make, of course, but the clothing we wear on our bodies speaks of our attitude as well. Often that impression is wrong.
A professional woman, for example, may dress properly in a quality suit jacket but if her business is more people-driven than task-driven, or her personality is more tender than proper, then the first impression she gives may be misrepresenting her.
When your image says one thing and your personality says another, people do not trust you. It’s as if your words were saying, “How may I help you today?” and your face were saying, “You are bothering me, leave me alone!” The natural response to anything phony is distance. Sometimes we step back from people without even knowing why. We may be in line waiting for a banker who appears to be a prude. Perhaps it’s “just an inkling” we have, but we want to change lines in order to avoid her.
No one wants to do business with people they do not trust.
We may continue waiting in line because we cannot give reason to our “inkling” and we may continue doing business with the “prude” because once we got to her desk she was pleasant after all. The thing is, this subconscious assumption is going on inside of anyone meeting us and we need to be careful that our first impression is trustworthy.
It is not wrong to be task-driven; we need people with administrative skills. It’s not wrong to be people-driven; relationships are also important. But it’s not always wise to trust a task-driven person with relationships or a people-person with tasks. The key to being successful at anything is acting within your gifts and abilities, right? Well the key to giving good first impressions is dressing within your style and personality. This is what image consultants call branding.
Next week I want to share with you a blurb from a book I am writing about The Beauty of Branding your Image. For now, I encourage you to take notice of the first impressions you give and to consider what drives you.
Catrina Welch is an inspirational author and speaker whose passion is empowering women and girls to BE and LET BE. Her expertise as a cosmetologist, image consultant and Biblical life-coach, as well as her personal experiences with abandonment and grief make her message relatable to anyone dealing with rejection, betrayal or loss.
Her latest book, CONFIDENT BEAUTY: Reflecting the One Who Made You, with the Images in your Mirror and in your Soul, will soon be available as an audiobook. Autographed copies of all her books are available on her website at www.CatrinaWelch.com