I ran into a colleague of mine at Starbucks last week and this was our conversation:
Her: Oh my gosh, hi Maja, I didn’t think I’d run into anyone. Ugh, I look like friggin’ shit. I haven’t even had a shower yet.
Me: [looks at watch, it’s 2:00pm?!?!] —Hi, how’s it going?
Her: Ugh, sorry I look like such total crap, I honestly was just going to pop in for a latte before going home to shower. I was running errands and then I was going to exercise this morning and then obviously shower, but then I didn’t finish my work from last night, had a conference call….and then…….BLAH. BLAH. BLAH.
Oh. My. Goodness. What’s wrong with this conversation??
She led with the negative!!! NEVER, EVER, LEAD WITH THE NEGATIVE.
Had she not mentioned the fact she hadn’t showered, I NEVER would have noticed. Sure, she looked a little pale and her hair was a tad messy, but NOW, I’m thinking, “damn, it’s 2:00pm, why hasn’t she showered yet…..who goes this long without showering?” And this was a smart woman! She was well-educated and career-driven. But her self-depreciating verbosity was bewildering. Not impressive at all.
I see this mistake happen constantly with my students, friends, colleagues and even strangers.
E.g. With my students, I’ll ask what year they’re in, and I’ll get a 2 minute diatribe about how they’re “technically” in 3rd year, but they switched majors, and then they didn’t know what they wanted to study, so they’re a little behind, and ON and ON and ON.
Again, NEVER lead with the negative. You’re NOT attached to a polygraph…..you don’t HAVE to tell people everything. Always lead with the positive. Always lead with your accomplishments. Always lead with something that frames you in a POSITIVE light. (What new project are you working on? Do you have a solution to a problem? What are you selling? What’s your brand/product/grand idea?) -BECAUSE leading with the negative is
self-sabotagingand stupid,a really great idea.
Harsh, I know. But who else will tell you this vital information, but me?
Now, every time I run into this colleague the first thing I’ll think of is how she told me she didn’t shower…..verbal diarrhea. It’s also a tell-tale “female” thing to do. We’re constantly assuming people think the worst of us, constantly downplaying our accomplishments or over-explaining ourselves. Why can’t we just lead with the positive??
Confidence ladies…we must build it day by day by day. In every interaction and conversation. In every impression and image we leave with others. Always lead with the positive.
First impressions matter, every. single. time.
Even if you know the person, every time you see them is another opportunity to either impress or disappoint. Every chance encounter with someone is an OPPORTUNITY to exceed expectations, to influence, to establish a new connection OR simply to be forgettable.