There is this famous saying about you only having one chance to make a first impression. I think I first heard it a long time ago, and since then, it has evoked many feelings. Fear, intimidation, anxiety, elation, you name them.
It is true that we all love to be liked or like to be loved, am not sure which. It should come as no surprise when you hear the great lengths to which people go to impress. People get haircuts, buy new clothes, borrow cars, go to fancy places and spent insanely large amounts of money then remain deeply in debt in order to be liked.
Just the week before last I was going for an interview and I had to spend many hours at a salon to get my hair to look like my papers. After spending about four hours at the salon and nearly four times that time expressed in minutes in amount, I had to spend more time researching and getting ready for the interview. So when I finally got into that boardroom with three serious faced guys I was confident that the job was mine.
I was ready for any question that they would throw my way. As it turned out, I was not nearly as impressive as I had thought. Tough luck! But so what? Life is like that sometimes.
That is not even the only time I went to great lengths to impress and it backfired on my face. There is this one time I was really hoping to impress this guy I liked, so when he asked to meet in Rongai I went into a frenzy. I made calls and asked around for recommendations on places we could meet and talk.
Eventually, we went to this place that I am even embarrassed to describe. It smelled of dust and cheap cologne. He braved it though but afterward he kept telling me to always lower my expectations lest I be disappointed. I think he made that choice on that fateful day. Hehe…
Another time, I got a call from someone who wanted me to write for them an organizational profile. He did not say his name but from his broken English and funny accent, he sounded Indian. I immediately started thinking of things that they tell you about Indian bosses. You know how strict they are, how they will just hurl insults at anyone regardless of small nuances (to them) such as age, dignity or even place, how they will hardly pay their dues and similar other stories.
I hear, if they have employed you, they will not let you into the office first on any day even if they are late, is that true? I hear they can send you on errands that are not within your job description? Like rubbing their bald heads with a wet rug when they have been in the sun, is that true? Hehe.. ok, so I have not actually heard that last one, but I think it could happen.
Anyway, we scheduled a meeting with the guy in Rongai. No, we did not go to that lousy place, we went to this other joint called ‘The Siron Place’, which was so cool I could recommend it for you if you ever find yourself needing a quiet place for a business meeting or otherwise. In fact, my only quarrel with this place is the fact that they were not open back then when I wanted to impress a guy I liked.
The day was sunny and slow. The kind of day that you wish you could just stay in bed and think about the future instead of actually making it, but you have to get up because you have adult responsibilities. You know, like having to treat yourself with an ice cream every once in a while, but still actively having to fight obesity. Haha! But seriously, you have responsibilities so you just suck up and overcome yourself.
I arrived at the venue nine minutes before the agreed upon time to familiarize with the place, chose a strategic seat and began putting on my serious face. I started wondering what people order on business dates and settled on water. So they bring me the 500ml highlands bottle and a glass. See picture above. I was trying to look executive and all so I took out my notebook and began scribbling some notes.
So what do you do with the water? Do you put a little in the glass and drink in one gulp? Do you pour all of it into the glass and take small sips as you converse? I decided to drink a little and then wait for my client.
Some guys passed by and I could swear I heard them see through my act and think to themselves ‘ poser’. Another guy even wanted to join me!! Here I thought I was looking executive, did I actually look desperate? Shidwe!! Hehe..
When the guy eventually came twenty minutes late, I had already taken selfies, rearranged my notebook, pen and water on the table, drawn a cartoon, then relaxed and decided that only two outcomes were possible. I would get the job, or not, and either of them would be okay. He turned out to be pretty nice, and not Indian,(I have nothing against them by the way) but from Eritrea and he had an opinion of Barack Obama, radicalization and slave trade. :-D. He thought Africans were colonized because they are generally nice people.
So what is my point in all these? We may always struggle to make impressions, sometimes it will work, sometimes it will backfire, but it is important not to get lost while at it, and begin defining oneself with the impressions we make on people. What defines you?
Here, raise your glass, let us toast. ‘To making impressions!’