First impressions are very important and can affect how you deal with a situation. However, there are times when, no matter how well prepared you are, your first impressions are not what you intended.
I had been asked to join a professional body of examiners and assessors and had accepted. I had been asked to attend my first standardisation meeting and had travelled to London especially. I was nervous and my nerves had not been helped when I was greeted by a very formal looking staff member who took one look at me, obviously reached his own conclusion ard proceeded to accompany me to an impressive set of double oak doors. He knocked and then opened them to reveal an even more impressive room with two massive oak tables, lined on either side with suited people, all very important no doubt. They all looked at me.
I bit down my nerves and entered the room. It was time to create a good first impression.
‘Hello’,I said, as I stepped forward. ‘I’m Sammy St….AArgh!’
I had fallen flat on my face!
When I picked myself up, I said, ‘ Well, that was one way to enter the room!’ and laughed like a loon until I realised my own voice was the only one. From the assembly there was complete and utter silence.
Eventually a very stern gentleman with large, horn rimmed spectacles so far down his nose, it was a wonder they did not fall onto his writing pad in front of him, broke the silence with, ‘ Well, shall we move on?’
Mortified and in a complete daze I took the only remaining chair I could see, at the head of one of the tables. I was aware of the door opening behind me but kept my head down and started to set out my documents. ‘Ahem!’ a deep voice said from behind me. ‘ I believe that is my seat’. Now I looked at the name plate in front of the writing pad – ‘Reserved for Chief Examiner’ it read. I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.
I turned to mumble my apologies – and found myself looking into the amused and beaming face of a man who could have stepped straight out of a Dickens novel in his bow tie, black suit and starched collar.
‘ Sorry, sorry, ‘ I began to garher my things up.
‘ No, not at all, you must be Sammy, I am Glynn, Chief Examiner and sender of your invitation!’ the gentleman beamed again and offered me his hand. I took it gratefully, to the astonishment of most of the other people sitting there (I could hear their intake of breath!).
‘Ladies and gentlemen’, began the man. ‘Before we begin our standardisation meeting I would like to introduce Sammy Stein, our newest examiner and much appreciated member. I know you will all make Sammy feel wlecome’. He looked at each face to make sure they understood before turning back to me.
He indicated a vacant chair halfway down the table and much ado was made by the others of making room for me.
‘ Sammy brings much needed expertise to our meetings and I am sure many here will benefit from the input Sammy is going to make. Welcome, Sammy’. The gentleman was grinning so widely it made the ends of his moustache curl.
I sat down,and for the rest of the meeting I was treated like a long-standing member. I learned two lessons from this experience. Firstly, always make sure you make the right impression – mine was less than auspicious and making an inane comment after falling on my face is not the best move’.
Also, I should learn from others. Even though he could see I had made a bit of a fool of myself by sittinginthe wrong place, Glynn also knew the importance of creating the right impression. He was the perfect host and made me feel welcome and negated any sense of embarassment.
Later, in a quiet moment after lunch, Glynn approached me. ‘ I hope you are enjoying yourself. I heard about your entrance, Sammy. I bet that shook a few feathers! I remember doing the exact same thing on my first visit here. That step is a bit of a bugger isn’t it?’
He then introduced me to many members, all of whom were, I have to say, pollte and welcoming and I will have no problem in going to another meeting- this time, though I shall watch for the step!