Take Two in the Morning Before You Wake Up 4

Instantaneous response; that’s what we have come to expect today. If Google takes more than a second to return its search results, we want to throw our computer out the window. And heaven help the car in front of us if they fail to respond to the changed traffic light before it happens.

A friend found an extreme example of this the other day. He received medication on which the pharmacy assistant had written, ‘Take 2 in the morning before you wake up’.

Unfortunately the rushed response is a habit we all practice. We are quick to pass judgement, to determine something or someone’s worth in a flash.

But, right or wrong, first impressions count, and first impressions are usually settled within the first few seconds of an encounter. It’s no good fighting it; sales people and job applicants have to come to terms with it and prepare accordingly. And, sometimes, those few seconds are all we can afford. When we feel threatened we are not going to wait around to find out if our first impression was right – we react, we run.

However, when we assume that our first impression is the last word on a subject, we rob ourselves and others of rich discoveries and meaningful encounters.

If we are doing a job interview, it is important to go beyond first impressions to find the real person beneath. Sometimes, of course, there isn’t anyone there, and our first impression is all there is to this person. But far more often than not, there is much more to learn, to discover and to enjoy in a person than the first impression we received.

A new church recently moved into a house in our neighbourhood. A lot of cars, a lot of coming and going and a lot of singing gave us our first impression which was: ‘There goes our peace and quiet.’

But, as we reflected, we realised that we have neighbours who listen to the TV late at night making sleep difficult; others who leave a motorbike idling for long periods and the occasional raucous party across the way. The singing from the Church is neither loud nor intrusive. In fact, it’s rather pleasant, and there is no shouting or raised voices. So, while the cars might block up our little road, our second impression is that there’s a whole lot worse than this particular group that could move into the neighbourhood.

Whether it’s a church in the neighbourhood, a new employee or someone you have known for a long time, however unnatural it may feel in this blink-of-an-eye world of ours, stop. Take time to listen to the person in front of you. Try to understand what they are saying and what is important to them. Only then begin to respond; respond to the real person you have discovered, the real issues you have uncovered, the new ideas that have emerged.

What do you think?

[First published here at Simply Communicate (see more)]

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About Ian Webster

I have been running my own consultancy (Simply Communicate) for five years – training and consulting in all things people management and development. Prior to that I was 16 years in corporate HR in a unionised environment becoming Training Manager and Human Resources Manager. I have a Degree in Theology and a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources Management.

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4 thoughts on “Take Two in the Morning Before You Wake Up

  • Wessel PIETERS


    Good points on a interesting article.

    Perhaps the insecurity of the situation in SA makes us anxious and therefore we follow every bit of news to decide when to run, or we are addicted to information perhaps we are short on meaningful relationships.  It makes us feel connected, but in reality we are disconnected.

  • Renee' McGibbon

    Words of wisdom that give pause for thought. Thank you Ian. We are too rushed to enjoy living. I long for the days of old where we were not expected to act and react like computers…

  • Tass Schwab

    DID you know that the amount of information contained on the front page of the New York Times is more news than people 100 years ago consumed in a lifetime. I give talks on Info Besity and Information Overload. 

    The sad fact of this is that Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day? Why are your really cramming as much as you can in?