I recently had a meeting with an interesting florist who seemed great “on paper” and I was so eager to meet him, but so sad when I did. Though he was a very nice and talented man, he lacked so much confidence that he simply could not look me in the eye when we spoke. It was heartbreaking. I am sure it was that he was nervous or shy, but all I kept thinking was how this issue would hold him back in his career and life. People would constantly misunderstand him thinking he was being deceptive, unsure about what he was saying or even being disrespectful. As wonderful and talented as he might be, he was allowing himself to be limited by his insecurities.
It bothered me so much that I wanted to mention it today in the blog. I feel so many of us have so many vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears (because, hello, we are human), but we must think about how they can work against us and have us come across to others as something they are not. To think that misunderstandings might be hurting people’s businesses and their ability to get jobs was too concerning for me not to mention.
It sounds a bit cliched, but there is truth in the idea that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You can always do better next time, but there is nothing like showing off your best self in the initial meeting. I think it goes without saying that dressing well and being prepared are crucial components to succeeding in every new meeting, but so are things such as tone, the words we use (fillers like “um” will work against you) and I would say that eye contact is the most important. When you look someone in the eye, you’re telling them “I am here and you’re the reason I am. I am listening to you and taking in what you are saying.” This poor man seemed more focused on his chair than our conversation and as much as I may have liked him, I could never feel comfortable having him interact with clients in that way. But still, I wanted so badly to empower and help him without offending him or making him feel shamed. It was a tough spot to be in being that I am a stranger to him (and he seemed so excited to meet me that the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass him).
We all need a little help now and then and if we want to be successful, we need to honor that need by doing what we can to lift ourselves up and work to fill in those little gaps.
Today, I would like all of you to think about how you come across and also share a trait that may be working against others without them knowing.