First Impressions

Is Personal Impact important in professional life?


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Harold used hypnosis when discussing his fees with clients

Not always.  You don’t have to have great personal impact (PI) to be successful, depending on what you do.  There are very many successful people without a shred of it.  In fact, a cold detachment from the feelings of others can often be an advantage in life and business if you want to ‘win’ all of the time.

But in ‘people’ businesses, and the professions, where we have clients, colleagues, seniors and employees, PI is a multiplier of all of your other hard-earned skills.  PI doesn’t replace professional competence, but it does add to it. Given the choice between 2 people to work with, we always choose warmth and sincerity ahead of another’s colder, but similar competence.

However much Personal Impact we have, we can always have more

We all tend to ‘fit’ more easily with certain groups and types of people.  Some of us are happier in a professional setting than a dinner party, for others the opposite is true. People with real PI tend to be as capable over the broadest range of social situations. Developing our basic PI skills is often as simple as having a set of ‘rules’ to follow with new or different people, based upon what we do when we’re with people we know well.

Good ‘basic technique’ is the root of many skills, sports and arts, and as we’re learning theses skills as children, we’re forced to learn the basics by repetition and rote.  We seldom get such training in social situations when we’re adults but we can help ourselves if we feel the need.   How?

But if you want to get more of it it’d be pretty useful to have an idea of what people with great personal impact actually do, wouldn’t it? Well here, without varnish, is the answer to that question from my personal and professional point of view.  People with great personal impact have-

  1. Energy- in the right place
  2. Empathy- for the other people in the room
  3. Emotional connection- they know how they feel about things

All very vague and high level for the moment but stick with me and imagine that you’re waiting to meet someone for the first time.  What would make a positive impact on you?

Let’s think that you’ve registered with a new dentist in your town and you go for your first appointment and you walk in through the door, a little nervous.  You’re greeted by the back of someone’s head.  He says, sit in the chair would you?  Open wide, OK- and then starts barking tooth names and numbers to his invisible (to you) assistant.  How’re you feeling now?

Where was the dentist’s energy? Focused on himself. Where was the empathy for how it was, in that moment, to be you? Nowhere. Where was the emotional connection with this busy professional? Nowhere once again.

I accept that what’s important here is that the guy is a great dentist.  We’d all prefer pain free, quality treatment with no charisma, over falling in love and having your teeth fall out 2 weeks later; but given equal skill, most of us would choose a professional that was warm, focused on us and in control of themselves, wouldn’t we?

Human beings need love, concern and care, and our assessment of all of the people we meet starts with a lighting assessment of whether the other person is interested in us at all.  If he’s not , then we may listen but we probably won’t believe.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
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