Monday, May 9, 2011

Going from “hello” to “see ya” in under 60 seconds

I’m sure you’ve heard the truism, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Isn’t that clever?

Another way to say it is, “you only meet someone the first time once!”

Cute, huh.

But, so what?

Positive thinking isn’t equal to Christ-mindedness

This and other trite little truisms are products of the “positive thinking” movement that often are employed to motivate sales people. I pity those sales peeps.

The idea is that the first sales call you make with a client is crucial since the way you are perceived from then on will be based on that first meeting.

In other words, if you’re having an off day, as most normal human beings do from time to time, tough snot.

The implication is that if you don’t come across as perfectly polished in your first meeting, you’ll probably lose that client forever because that bad first impression you make will taint their memory from here to eternity. Make a bad impression, and it’s once and done!

Talk about harsh!

All I am sayin’ is give peeps a chance

I believe most people, who are worth having as clients, will give you another opportunity or two to make your case if you’re at least pleasant and honest.

(The one exception to second chances with first impressions I can think of is in the hiring process. HR departments can be unnecessarily harsh to deal with. Just sayin'.)

However, the impact of this cliché about first impressions has oozed over into non-sales relationships and often serves as a justification for us to write people off after an initial meeting.

Based on a single physical characteristic, tic, misspoken word, unusual hair style, tattoo, or whatever it is that we choose not to like, we are amazingly skilled at instantly crafting a robust personality assessment slanted against pursuing a relationship. Suddenly we all hold Ph.D.s in psychology!

We go from “hello” to “later” in a flash. Instead of extending grace, we “un-grace” them, or, rather, dis-grace them by essentially removing grace from the encounter. Not that I’m like this, or anything.

While there may be a small grain of wisdom in truisms like this (emphasis on small), wielding them as absolutes removes grace, replacing it with fatalism.

Is this how we want to be treated? With fatalistic gracelessness?

I doubt it.

And Jesus said, “If at first you don’t succeed at avoiding sin, tough noogies!”

Another truism I abhor that is often linked the one about first impressions is, “past performance predicts future behavior.”

I’m very happy that when Peter asked Jesus how many times we are to forgive someone who has wronged us, that Christ didn’t say, “You know Peter, you get only one chance to make a first impression. And we know that if someone has wronged us, that past performance will predict their future behavior. So, Peter, I say unto you, write them off after one offense.” (See Matthew 18:21-22.)

Ack! Talk about your zero-tolerance policy!

If this was the standard everyone applied, none of us would have any friends because we would have written them off and they would have written us off! Double ack!

Thank God for grace. And thank God life isn’t one long sales call or job interview!

The golden rule of God's love

Just as we desire forgiveness and grace from others, seeking their love to cover over our clumsy sins, so we should be willing to extend the same.

This is true no matter what “role” we are filling during theses encounters:

  • At work, if we are in a hiring role, we need to be willing to give people who are having a bad day or have a typo on their resume a second chance.

  • If we’re in a buying role, we need to allow sales people to be human and focus on the product or service they are selling, not their unique God-given quirks.

  • And when it comes to friends, family, and others around us, we need to overlook “bad” first impressions and past mistakes until we have a chance to get to know the real heart of the person; the heart where Christ already resides or wants to reside.

We need to look past the bad teeth, stinky breath, stained clothes, careless remark, defensiveness, quirkiness, or whatever is fogging up seeing them clearly, and try to see them as Christ sees them.

Simply, we need to extend to others what we want to receive from them; grace, not dis-grace. Besides, we don’t always come across as “all that” to others either.

Remember, the grace of God is not performance based. When accepted, it refocuses the heart instantly and transforms the whole person over time.

What do you think?


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