Second Impressions

Peeling back the sticker
Added: Monday, 16 November 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

Last night I was graciously invited to join a friend of mine who had won a dinner for herself and 9 of her friends at a new restaurant in town. The whole thing had been organized by one of the leading local women’s magazines and it was great fun. One of the promotional gags they had come up with was a 20-minute talk by an image consultant.

Okay, so it wasn’t the best decision to make us listen to a presentation before appetizers, but I don’t think that was the real reason it didn’t quite click for us. I don’t know if she’d had a bad day, if she was not inspired by the crowd or if it was a combination of the two, but her delivery of the material was just not up to scratch. It felt like she was literally rattling off clichéd insights about how to dress and make a first impression. She mentioned the importance of choosing three messages that one wants to convey. An example: professionalism, reliability and ambition. But somehow she wasn’t connecting to the truth of what she had, perhaps, once genuinely felt. She tried to encourage us to look at ourselves as a brand that has only seconds to make an important first impression. We couldn’t help but doubt our own first impression of her.

But ironically, our second impression of her - now that was something else completely! Because when her presentation was done, she mentioned she had to run off to her 14 month old, who was waiting at home. Perhaps the reason she had not been present at her own presentation? We exchanged a few oohs and aahs and she explained that, though she was over 40, she had just found the man of her dreams and had a child with him. Our interest was sparked and she began telling us of her life and how she had attracted the same kinds of men forever, focusing always on what she didn’t want in life. (I don’t want a man who cheats, drinks and is lazy). This had led to her going from one unhappy, cheating, drinking lazy man to the next. Until one day she sat down and wrote a letter to God, asking him for all the things she was looking for in a man. That shift in thinking from negative to positive, she felt, had attracted a man who was not only all the things she was looking for, but – MORE.

It was funny how the three words that suddenly popped in my mind were: honesty, vulnerability and authenticity – virtues that were far more appealing and attractive than any she had set out to achieve and that came out only upon further investigation of her character. As she left, all the single ladies at the table began scribbling notes on their serviettes and I knew that what the image consultant had set out to do was, perhaps, not done - but instead she achieved far MORE.

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