First impressions are crucial – whether we like it or not our first impression can be a make-it or break-it. From your business to personal life, you get one shot at this and you should always bring your best. I was recently at my son’s open house at his middle school (he is going into the 6th grade this year). I left so frustrated and less confident than I have ever been regarding the ability of a school to care for my child due to, or lack of, the first impression. Every question, with exception of one, was answered with “I don’t know” by many of the staff. My questions ranged from “where will his locker be?” to “how do we sign him up for the bus?” Not only did we get an “I don’t know” but each also came with the usual shoulder shrug and unenthusiastic look. When asking where his home room class would be we were given three different locations which all were incorrect. We did finally get the correct location of his home room, but his teacher was not there to meet the parents on the Open House night. My husband and I have never had this kind of experience at an Open House, the purpose of these things is to communicate and inform parents, we ended up leaving confused and frustrated.
You know, they had one shot to show that they cared or even tried to be prepared for this parent’s night, however, all they wanted to talk about was their reputation and the dress code policy. Both of these are important, but this was also their chance to explain their expectations of their incoming students, and what the incoming students could expect as well. I heard many times that night that middle school is harder on the parents than the kids. Ok, so you are aware, you could have done some of the simplest things to help. It would have been great to have been told what a day in the life of our children would look like, how they will transition from their classes, how they are to prepare their binders with school supplies, or go over their expectations of homework.
It’s kinda like when you are car shopping or buying a house. If the prior owner hasn’t taken care of the “smalls” then I immediately become worried because most likely they haven’t taken care of the “bigs”. The “smalls” are when you see broken blinds. I then think if they haven’t fixed that knowing they are trying to sell their home then most likely they have not maintained the “bigs” like the heating and cooling system. If they haven’t cleaned the trash out of the car, “smalls”, (and yes, this actually happened to me and my husband when test driving cars from a dealership – let’s just say we left) then did they bother to do major maintenance or regular oil changes “bigs”?
Or like my husband. He was a police officer for almost ten years. He used to always say that the way he presented himself spoke a lot to the people he interacted with, Officer Presence. His presence was not only the uniform itself, it was how he carried himself, his confidence. He always made sure his uniform was tailored, cleaned, pressed, shoes shined, and car washed. He respected his role and the community he served and you could tell this not only by his words and actions but in his level of attention to his physical appearance as well. In his role, all of this was crucial to his safety and effectively doing his job.
Speaking of bad first impressions, just the other day my husband and I were working out in the garage, and the door was up. This is not something I enjoy, but that’s for another story. While we were working out, a man in a truck pulled up close to our mail box and appeared to be going through some trash. He gathered, what I thought was trash and threw it out his window next to our mail box. In an instant I screamed at him and said “NO NO – DON’T YOU DO THAT!” He immediately looked at me and my husband jumped up, not knowing what was going on. The man was still looking at me and slowly moved on to my neighbors house. My husband looked at me and I was like “I can’t believe he just dropped his trash in our yard”. My husband said “he is delivering phone books”. I was instantly embarrassed and desperately wanted to run after his car to catch up with him to apologize, at which my husband said running after him was probably not the best idea after screaming at him. My husband laughed and said I wanted to look at him and whisper “just drive away” – I told him that’s not funny! I can only imagine what he thinks of the people that live in That House.
So in this situation with the school, if they aren’t willing or see the importance of communicating the “smalls” then how will they be throughout the year with the “bigs”. This school may be great. However, the first impression did not leave me with confidence in their willingness to communicate throughout the year .
Focus for today:
You have one, ONE shot at a first impression – understand just how invaluable this truly is!