The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

First Impressions Are Powerful…

Posted in Education, Skills by Jeff Graves on January 25, 2007

But you already knew that, didn’t you?  Even though I’ve long realized how important first impressions really are, I had an experience Monday night that highlighted just how effective some people are at making first impressions.  It also made me think about how, as much as we talk about making a good first impression, it takes a little work to really make one.

 Monday was the first night of a class I’m taking this semester, that will occupy 2 nights a week for the next 12 weeks.  After just one night of the course, I walked away feeling pretty confident that I’m going to get my money’s worth in this class, and that the instructor is going to do right by us.  What made me feel this way?  Well, the instructor, and the way she presented herself:

Honest and Authentic

During the course of the class, she told a lot of stories to help make her points, and many of them were stories from her personal experiences.  But they weren’t all stories about shining successes; she told a number of stories about mistakes she had made in the past.  But every story was real, and the way she told them left no doubt that they were the truth.

Genuinely Interested

She started the class by asking each student to introduce themselves.  But she didn’t let us off the hook by simply explaining who we were and why we were taking the class.  She wanted to know something unique about every person in the class, and the thing is, she really took the time to dig a little and draw people out a little.  She showed real interest in the unique backgrounds of everyone in the class, and tried to make connections between individual members of the class, in an effort to draw us all closer together, since we’ll be spending the next 3 months together twice a week.

Authoritative

She clearly knew her stuff, period.  Having been practicing in her chosen field for over 20 years, maybe that comes as no surprise.  She demonstrated a very solid knowledge of the subject matter, but didn’t come across as superior to her students.  And, she made it clear that she saw it as her job to pass along her knowledge, to share it, and she seemed genuinely excited to get her students excited about the subject.  She also made it clear that she expected a serious commitment from her students – but she didn’t come across as harsh or overbearing.  She had a quiet confidence that we students would recognize that she was serious, and, as she put it, “act like adults”. 

Overall, it was an interesting evening, for some unexpected reasons.  As much as I dread the time commitment this course is going to require, given everything else going on, I do think I’m going to get a lot out of it.

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