They set the stage for everything that ensues. They disproportionately influence the outcome of a conversation.
When it comes to meeting someone, we think in terms of first impressions. A First Moment is more. A First Impression tends to be a one-sided affair. It describes how I experience you. It may describe the impact you wish to have on me. You know, make a good first impression!
Important, sure. But first moments are a beginning that we co-create. They summon shared energy for all that follows.
I think of this as I attend an event in South Florida hosted by Images and Voices of Hope, an organization committed to the notion that the media can create positive, meaningful change in the world. Before the presenters have their turn, Peter London, a well-known dance teacher at Miami’s New World School of the Arts, takes the audience on a guided meditation.
I have my first impression of Peter as he grabs the microphone. The second he closes his eyes and invites the audience to do the same, however, Peter invokes the first moment. His mellifluous voice. The sudden silence in the room. The collective energy of a group of folks going inward. Yes, a first moment is born. Off to an impeccable start.
What does this have to do with our everyday business interactions? Change your First Interaction Playbook. Think less about making a great first impression. Focus on creating a memorable first moment. Consider these simple First Moment primers:
The 1-1 Conversation FIRST MOMENT PLAYBOOK
Express delight at meeting the person.
Decide that you will enjoy the encounter.
Match the energy of the other person.
Choose to explicitly pick up their verbal cues.
Be willing to say the unexpected.
The Business Meeting FIRST MOMENT PLAYBOOK
Do NOT Rush into the Agenda. Begin with an Opening Ritual.
Consider starting with a “How I’m doing” check-in.
Consider starting with a short guided meditation.
Consider starting with an “A success I had this week” go-around.
Consider starting with a physical energizer that invigorates.
First Impressions are nice. First Moments, however, galvanize everything that follows. They unleash positive energy and good will. They generate momentum. Go ahead, change your First Interaction Playbook. Make some first-moment-magic. Begin well.