“I am a part of all whom I’ve met” is one of my favorite quotes. It signifies the impression we make, and our relationship and connection to others. We all come into contact with a variety of people on a regular basis. From the obvious people such as spouse, children, parents, partners and co-workers, to the less obvious folks who we pass in the neighborhood, who serve our meals in a restaurant or cash us out at a store, we constantly form impressions and connections. Sometimes when these happen over and over again, friendships are formed from unexpected circumstances.
My husband and I have met several couples over time just by seeing each other while frequenting the same restaurant. It started out with a nod or comment such as, “Gosh we see you guys here all the time,” and then led to longer conversations each time we saw each other. Eventually our families became friends outside of the restaurant and we often laugh about how it all started.
Sometimes the connection is a simple spoken phrase that elicits a smile, laugh or other emotional response. But it makes an impression that sticks. Next thing you know you are repeating the phrase you heard and continuing the connection to others.
You’ve perhaps heard the notion that some people come into our lives for a reason, a season, a moment or a lifetime. I can’t help but think of the importance of being aware of how we live, what we say and how we act with ourselves and with others. Knowing how these impressions can shape our course and determine the mark we leave on others brings clarity when deciding how we are going act and what kind of person we want to be.
Do you want to be referred to as the troublemaker, bully or indifferent type? Or the considerate, funny and caring one? How about honest, dependable, trustworthy? What are the top five qualities you project on a regular basis? People can be impressionable, vulnerable. Do you go through the mental checklist of possible outcomes or effects before you act or speak? Will the impression you’re about to make be for the greater good or might it do irreversible harm?
I remember a time when we had little money, following a severe car accident that kept my husband out of work for over 18 months. We had a small child and were doing the best we could. As I was talking with a creditor about a bill that was due she was very short with me and as I explained our situation she expressed no understanding or leniency. Her treatment made me feel inferior and insignificant—compounding how badly I already felt being in the situation we were in. Internally tense, shaking and with tears in my eyes I managed to ask to speak to a superior. The next person I spoke with treated me entirely differently than the initial rep. From her first words she diffused the situation. She expressed empathy, kindness and figured out a way to resolve the situation that left me feeling important, and even cared for.
Same situation, two different approaches, two distinct effects on another being. That experience left a lasting impression and was part of my resolve as a human being to continually put myself in the other person’s shoes and ask “how would I feel?” and “how would I want to be treated?” Yes, this sounds an awful lot like The Golden Rule, a principal that was established a long, long time ago. It continues to stand the test of humanity. What will it take for you to recognize the impression you leave on others? Experiencing the same situation yourself, listening to the stories of others, watching the reaction of others to your words or deeds?
Whatever the method, make it a habit to increase your awareness radar. Notice if someone needs help. Then offer it or just jump in and do it. A great example of this happened recently after a meeting I’d attended. I had more things to carry out than I brought in, so my hands were completely full as I headed to the elevator. One of the men asked if I needed help carrying these to my car. I thought the offer considerate but didn’t want to put him out, so I politely smiled, thanked him and declined. To my supreme delight and surprise, he came running after me and extended his hands and took several items from me. He said, “I just can’t let you do that by yourself.” The chivalry expressed is not something I see very often. On occasion, yes, but not often. I genuinely thanked him and let him know how much it meant to me. The impression he left will never be forgotten—mostly because it seems a rarity. If you begin to be more aware, and think of the impact you can have on another—it will soon become second nature and perhaps won’t be such a rare quality someday.
How will you be remembered when you are the one who is a part of all whom you’ve met?
Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.