When I taught high school French in the classroom, I used to love doing units on French art of various time periods. One of the most recognizable, even to younger students, was always Impressionism because they’d seen Monet prints and Van Gogh posters in stores and could easily connect to something in French class. (Some for the first time!)
The impressionists painted outdoors and used light brush strokes to emphasize lighting and the impression that a landscape made, rather than trying to capture every detail. An Impressionist painting from several feet away gives a much better idea of the painting’s subject than closer inspection.
Connecting with people can be like this, too.
Whether it’s the first eye contact and handshake, or our clothing and opening statements, we are making an impression on the people we meet. If we’re intentional about those early moments, we can reap the benefits of warm and positive interactions to come. Like the 19th century French painters, we can bring light and warmth into every encounter we have with our fellow humans.
Dale Carnegie’s timeless wisdom connects to first impressions, as he states that “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” What a great way to bring light into a first impression moment. Instead of, “Nice to meet you”, wouldn’t it be great to insert the person’s name and a smile? “Hi, Claire. It’s nice to meet you.” (Unspoken message: and I really mean it!) And as an added bonus, speaking someone’s name will help you remember it later. That’s a good impression!
How are you intentional about how you interact with someone for the first time? What insight do you have about winning friends and influencing people? What favorable or unfavorable impressions have you had when meeting people?