By Steve Shenbaum, Head of Communication by game on
Let The Races Begin
And the clichÃ©s are off and running. What an incredible field. We've got âJust Relaxâ sprinting out of the gates to take the early lead followed by âBe Yourselfâ, who never starts this fast. âBe Confidentâ can't seem to find her stride while "Speak Upâ is fading fast. âYou Only Have One Time to Make a First Impressionâ barely got out of the gates and unfortunately, âNever Give Upâ was an early scratch. And around the stretch they comeâ¦
The names of those racehorses are ironic and they are also some of the statements that I hear from our athletes on a regular basis whenever we discuss âmaking a good first impressionâ. While statements don't motivate, a tangible plan of action does and in order to create a plan of action, we need to set communication goals. But before we do this, we all need to be on the same page when it comes to our definition of a âgoal.â
When teaching athletes how to make a positive impact on others, we've created a game called âOBJECTIVESâ
Now, one important rule to make this exercise work is that objectives must be positive and should not be used to manipulate or deceive someone. In fact, âObjectivesâ is simply a word to describe how you are trying to make the other person feel. It's like having directions to where you're driving when you get in your car. We don't just get in our car and drive aimlessly about so why would we go into a college interview or any social situation aimlessly? Know where are you going in this conversation or social interaction and remember, it is not about you, it's about them. So, don't focus on yourself, focus on the other person. Objectives force us to get out of our heads and on to the needs of the person or people with whom we are communicating.
Focus on Someone Else
If you meet someone for the first time and all you think about is impressing them and making them like you, then you have just confused your goals and rewards. When this happens you are sure to forget their name, listen less and try too hard. However, if you are focusing on them, you don't have as much time to worry about your nerves, your anxieties, or your own negative self talk.
Common and effective objectives might be to make the person feel comfortable, important, valued, respected, attractive, safe and so on. I leave it up to my athletes to choose appropriate objectives for their various audiences. Some of the more popular objectives include:
Coaches = Respected
Parents = Valued
Teammates = Confident
Admissions Director/Job Interviewer = Excited
Friends = Comfortable
Teachers = Appreciated
When we think about ourselves or about making a great first impression, we often forget names, we interrupt, we say the wrong thing, we don't say enough and we try too hard, which results in making a poor first impression instead of a great first impression. From now on, think about the other person's needs and focus on them. Imagine the conversation and the trust if two people talking had as their objective to make one another feel âcomfortable.â Imagine an entire team thinking this way both on and off the court, field or track.
When you place your focus on someone else, you'll be amazed at how much more relaxed you are and how appreciative the other person will be. And if the other person is not appreciative, maybe it was because they were thinking about themselves. Whatever the outcome, at least you know your intentions were good.
By focusing on the other person, you'll get so much more out of the conversation and you increase your chances of making a great first impression. But if, for some reason, you don't have the most amazing conversation, that's okay. You achieved your objective and thus, you accomplished your goal and the rewards will come in due time.
The Finish Line
â¦and around the stretch they come. The favorites are all fading fast and at the wire it's âHonestyâ, followed by âHumilityâ and completing the improbable trifecta, in plaid and polka dots, we've got âHumor.â What a nice race.