First Impressions

Today is Tuesday, so this post is on positive personal impact.

First impressions are an important part of creating positive personal impact.  A good first impression usually results in a strong relationship.  A poor first impression is difficult to overcome.

Last week, I needed to see my Podiatrist.  I woke up one morning and the small bunion on my right foot was inflamed and hurting.  My response was to take some ibuprofen and forget about it.  Cathy convinced me to call the doctor. 

When I called, the woman who answered the phone said “Doctors’ office”.  I introduced myself, said that I am a patient of the doctor, and explained a little about my problem.  She said, “Please hold.”  I waited for over three minutes before she came back to me and said “Are you established?” 

I wasn’t expecting to hear this question.  I replied “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean.”  In an exasperated tone, she said, “Have you seen the doctor before?”  I replied, “Yes I am.  That’s the first thing I told you.”  Her response?  “Whatever”

We got through this little bit of unpleasantness, and I scheduled an appointment for that afternoon.  When I arrived, the same woman was working the front desk.  I knew this as I recognized her voice.  She looked up from whatever she was doing and said, “And you are?”  I smiled and said, “Bud Bilanich, I have an appointment at 2:00.”  She said, “Insurance card.”  I gave her my card.  She made a copy and handed it back to me without a word.  I sat down to wait for the doctor.

As I sat down, I was thinking to myself, “I like this doc.  He’s a good guy.  I wonder what happened to his other receptionist.  She was so pleasant.  Maybe I should find another Podiatrist.”

Within a minute or two, a nurse came to get me and take me to an examining room.  She was very nice.  The doctor came in a minute later and we talked about my problem.  He had me have an X-ray, and then told me I had a cyst on my foot.  He aspirated it – a nice way of saying he took a long needle and drew out the fluid in the cyst – gave me a cortisone short for pain, and put a band aid on it and said “I’d like to see you again in a couple of weeks”. 

We chatted a bit about his practice.  He told me that he had read one of my books and enjoyed it.  The whole thing took about 30 minutes.  All in all, I left his office with a good feeling about him and his practice.

In this case, the prompt service – you know how long you can wait to see some doctors, the friendly nurse and the doctor’s demeanor more than compensated for the poor first impression made by the receptionist. 

However, this shouldn’t have had to be the case.  If I have a similar experience when I call to schedule my follow up exam, I will mention the receptionist’s behavior to him.  He runs an efficient and friendly practice.  I would hate to see one person screw it up for him.  And his receptionist – the person who makes the most first impressions – is the one person who can do the most damage.

The common sense point here – you can recover from poor first impressions, but why put yourself in that position.  Do everything you can to make a positive first impression and you can spend your time building on that goodwill, not repairing the damage caused by a poor first impression.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website to subscribe to my monthly ezine and for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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