Thursday, February 13, 2014

What first impression did you make?

We all get but one first impression. We have only one chance to make it a good one. And I know I've lacked sorely in that department. 

Do you know how important it is? Before you tell me yes, and before you tell me a story of someone's first impression on you, allow me this. 

Years ago, I went to a Romance Writer's National Conference in Washington. It was my first and walking into the literacy signing that first day was like a baptism of fire. I was overwhelmed by the number of women there. Thousands.

Then, a tiny, pretty woman stepped from the crowd. "Barbara!" she called. Her name was Danica Favorite, a fellow writer who took care of some of the Harlequin boards and rallied the Love Inspired writers when we needed rallying. She recognized my name and wanted to say hello.

I could have hugged her. A light shining in the dark, she was, for I was not well known back then. That first impression that she made was awesome.

Fast forward a few years later, in Atlanta, my second conference, and I still remembered Danica's kindness. And there she was, sitting in the lounge, talking to another writer. I couldn't help myself. I hurried up to her and told her, after excusing myself for interrupting, that I appreciated what she'd done years before. She'd made a wonderful, kind first impression on me.

I walked away, telling my companion what Danica had said to me, years before. My friend promptly grabbed me. "Did you see what you did!  Did you see who Danica was talking to?"

I swiveled my head around. "No. I just saw Danica."

"She was talking to Nora Roberts!"

Oh. Well, there goes my good first impression with Nora. I'd been terribly rude, but in my excitement of seeing one kind person I had forgotten my manners. (It's not good form to interrupt people talking at conferences, I was told. Oops. But to be honest, if I followed that rule to the letter, with 2,000 plus romance writers, I probably wouldn't get a word in edgewise!)

Still, my point remains. Danica had made a wonderful first impression. We only get one chance to make that first impression and yes, we screw it up sometimes. 

Now that you've heard my sorry story, the story behind my rather poor first impression on Nora Roberts, I'm going to ask you to do something the next time someone makes a bad first impression on you. 

I'm going to ask you to remember me, because that person ruining his or her first impression with you may not be doing anything malicious at all.

They just don't realize that you're as special as Nora Roberts is.

1 comment:

Danica said...

Barbara, thanks so much for this post. I was really touched to be remembered this way. I don't think Nora thought badly of your interruption. If I learned anything sitting with her that evening, it was that she treated every interruption of someone being a fan girl to her with such dignity and grace. She's truly a classy woman, and I very much respect how she modeled how to treat others.

I'm glad you came up to say hi, and I'm also glad it made an impression. I've been around a lot of great people who've done the same for me, so passing it on is something that I can't help but do.