A bad impression once created normally develops into a downward spiral which pulls you in, each time making it worse.
They say it takes years to create an impression and it takes a minute to ruin it. That is how often personal or professional relationships end.
We say – “I did my best, but it was not to last”
How do we break that chain? That’s the point of this post.
Let me tell you three stories.
My guess is you will relate to at least one of them.
The Story of Anand and David – The thorough professionals
Somewhere, in Australia……..
Anand has been a successful professional and an ambitious man all this life. At 31, he was now one of the leading corporate names in his industry and in charge of the Company’s Sydney office with complete discretion.
As he stood on his massive office on the 27th-Floor, with French windows overlooking the Sydney Harbour bridge, he thought about his journey in the corporate world. He was always leagues ahead of all his friends!
There was no one more deserving, he thought!! He had to rise to the top.
Many people have benefited from Anand’s insights. In fact David has had a promotion because on an idea Anand asked him to work upon.
This call, however, was different. David’s voice was cold.
“Do you realize how much of a mess we are in because of you?”
Anand was taken aback. “What…..Sir? What happened?”
“The quote you had sent to the Korean Company last week did not have the proper clauses included. I have just got off the phone with them and we have lost the 150 million dollar deal.”
Anand was trying his best to stay composed. No one ever accused him of passing on wrong information. He gathered all courage and said : “Let me check on that from my end Sir!” David did not say anything. He kept the phone down.
As Anand went through his emails frantically, he found that every relevant clause was mentioned to David for closing the deal. David obviously had overlooked many of this information and sent only an abridged version to the Clients.
Anand called him up to explain. It was of no use. David kept trying to tell him that he should have been more explicit in all the emails. The conversation was becoming pointless. They just kept trying to blame each other.
Anand came home that day with a heavy feeling in his heart. The relationship with David, where they could talk about everything apart from work, was not there anymore.
Over next few days, David became strictly professional. His mails had an occasional harsh remark such as “This was told to you previously.” or “I don’t know which part you do not understand”. Anand did not think he had done anything wrong, and he became overly defensive now. His emails and conversation started including subtle indications of defiance.
This was not well received. The whole equation with his company which he had built up over so many years was going downhill rapidly. A bad impression was being formed about him in various corners because of the sudden defensive nature of his correspondence.
The calls of appreciation had stopped. Phone calls from management were mostly confrontational. Even though Anand held his ground every time strongly, such conversations drained him from inside and depleted his confidence. Moreover, the occasional rebukes were taking a huge toll.
Anand soon lost his confidence in the job. It fell apart in a few months. His bosses gave up on him. He started looking for a different job and was rather unsure of joining a leading firm ever again. He had simply gone through too much!!
The Story of Angela – The sensitive
Angela was a receptionist in the Doctor’s chamber.
Every morning at nine, Dr. Alfred, a tall handsome man, would walk in and smile at her pleasantly.
She would say – “Good morning Sir” with a pleasant smile and the Doctor would usually ask her something casual like – “Hey Angela!! What are the appointments for me today?”, or “Hey, when did you get that scarf?? Looks great on you!!!”
More than the words, the smile which came along, made her feel great!! It was never just a casual “Good morning“. She always felt deep down that there was something interesting in that brief interaction that they had.
No, it wasn’t romantic , but it was a moment she looked forward to every morning. She did not even know how she created such a nice impression on him, but she was glad that it was there.
Then one day, she messed up. She had misplaced an appointment. Apparently the patient was very close to the Doctor. He had come over, but Dr. Alfred had already left for the day, not knowing about the appointment.
The next morning when Dr. Alfred walked in, Angela apologized for her mistake. However, his reaction was not what she expected. While he did not show disgust, he was very cold. He simply said sternly: “Make sure that does not happen again. Just send my appointments in for today”, and walked into his chamber. The bad impression was quite apparent from his cold tone.
From the next day onwards their interactions changed. Her ‘Good morning Sir’ was not the natural smiling kind anymore. She was afraid that she will not get a warm response. Her fear showed up. Her wish was a half-hearted one, which was responded either by a casual nod, or a stern “Good morning” – nothing else.
Angela felt sad that the good doctor had changed, and that their sweet relationship had come to an end.
They were not rude to each other. They were behaving with perfect professional courtesy. But that hint of ‘something more’ had vaporized.
The story of Andrew: The Best friend
Andrew knew Stanley since kindergarten.
Today after years, their friendship had still lasted. Andrew knew that in the whole wide world, Stanley was the one person who would not let him down.
Stanley felt the same way. Their families bonded too, which was an added bonus. They often visited each other, planned parties, dinners, and getaways.
Stanley was on his way with his family to Orlando for a business meet when he got a text from Andrew saying: “Dude, come over immediately. Emergency!!” He was boarding the flight at the time and had to switch his phone off. He was curious and a bit worried, but he also knew that Andrew could handle every problem that he could anticipate.
The flight landed late and Stanley had to rush to his office from the Airport, somehow managing to tell his wife, Dorothy, to call Andrew as soon as she reached the hotel and find out what happened. The kids were restless and Dorothy completely forgot about this upon reaching the hotel.
Stanley tried calling Andrew when he reached the hotel in the evening, but he did not pick up.
Andrew had been diagnosed with kidney stone. He was alone that day at home and had suffered excruciating pain for quite a while before being taken to the hospital. His wife was out of town and the only person he could think about, Stanley, was not responding to his calls. He saw that Stanley had received his message, but had switched his phone off right after that!!
When Stanley finally called, he felt disgusted. He had no will to pick up the phone.
A single bad impression had tainted the relationship of twenty years.
When Stanley returned, it was never the same. Stanley was not really apologetic enough to Andrew’s satisfaction. Andrew knew he could not have come, he just wanted him to be sorry. Stanley was never good at explaining his side of the story. Their relationship became cold, those dinners and getaways became scarce.
Even though Stanley felt bad, he thought he could not have done any better.
Bad Impression – A Downhill Battle
You didn’t expect your relationship to turn bad, but it did! Agreed.
In personal or professional life we often come across such situations. What do you do then?
You have worked a lot for it and now its all gone.
Do you play defensive now? Do you also reciprocate the bad feelings?
Don’t worry. There are ways to get your relationship back in shape.
Most of the time, we see a reflection of our own feelings in another person. If we think that the person loves us, we will try to find love in his or her reactions. If we know that he dislikes us, whatever he does is going to indicate disgust.
The eyes see what the heart wants to see.
Every meeting seems to prove us correct – that the Bad impression cannot be recovered. Every interaction with the person seems to reinforce our conviction. Moreover, when we see a reaction in the other person, we also react instinctively to it. This makes matters worse.
Simple misunderstandings lead to a battle of egos until a friendship which could have lasted a lifetime, breaks up. Simple mistakes between professionals, which would have forgotten shortly, get stretched out till promising careers end. Sweet relationships which could have been cherished are lost forever.
How to turn the situation around
Yes, a Bad impression can be turned inside out!!
A while back something happened with me in my own professional life. A misunderstanding which could have gone very bad.
Well, it has been a few weeks and we are back to being pals again.
In the second part of this post, I shall explain a 5-step method on how you could swap around a bad impression if you really want to.
No, all isn’t lost.
Be positive and Read on!!
Subscribe for more such updates in your inbox.