Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Grace: A Guide to making a good first impression

Any management veteran will tell you that as you walk into a room with new people, it is important to crack that first impression. It is also a much proven and repeated fact that 93% of communication happens through body language - a solid amalgamation of eye contact, handshakes and grace.

This Tuesday's agency meeting was my first one on this brand. As I walked in early, I saw three agency reps in the room, new faces for me. From my brief exposure to the corporate lifestyle here at P&G, I knew self-introduction was useful and expected as well.

My colleague Lipi was already seated, nibbling gracefully at a pastry (remember the body language tip?) and sipping her drink. The agency folks, curious about the new face in the room, looked at me and smiled. Hence I smiled back at them, sliding the laptop on the table next to Lipi. As I did that, Lipi's styrofoam cup, so solidly resting on the table by the weight of the water in it, got tipped over.

I watched the water, glistening under the bright fluorescent lights, meander gently towards a cavity full of plug points. As it evoked images of sparks and short-circuits, another doubt popped in my head. Should I forgo my original plans of strong handshakes and cheerful eye contact? The answer was clearly no.

So I proceeded with the self-introduction, devoting one-tenth of my attention to the water spillage. After all, a fire hazard would have been quite unpleasant for the whole meeting. The agency folks, polite sparkling people as they are, appeared quite concerned about the water and one fumbled inside her purse for tissues. "Oh don't worry, Lipi will take care of it" I said; and with the same bounding confidence shook hands and absorbed each person's name.

During this time Lipi rushed out, appearing soon with a crumpled bunch of tissues in her hand. Deftly, she planted them over the major blobs of water. Defeated by Lipi's fortitude, the water hid inside a million tissue pores. The tissue, serving its ephemeral purpose of existence, extinguished and turned limp. It was all quite fascinating to watch.

Exhausted with Lipi's efforts and straining to remember three new names, I sighed and sat down, pushing the laptop away to rest my elbows.

It was at this moment that I happened to tip over the water cup, again. Given, it did not possess copious amounts of liquid like before, thus lacking its former potential for causing sparking damage. But nonetheless, it served its symbolic purpose of sparking chaos.

Lipi glowered at me. Thankfully, in her panicked state a minute ago, she had managed to bring in some extra tissues. I admit, that this time I could have taken over the cleaning act. But as she had done such a splendid job of cleaning up the first mess, I thought it was worth observing all over again.

So I sat besides Lipi as she gracefully wiped the table. I chose to give determined nods of appreciation. After all, such social mis-etiquettes, messing up everyone's time and table, can be quite embarrassing. A bit of encouragement is always helpful in these situations. And I must admit she handled it with utmost poise.

The meeting went off fine. We discussed, we debated and then went back to our normal work. In the end I found it heartening that apart from our business acumen, the agency also saw a fine display of teamwork, a can do attitude with a sprinkling of 'no crying over spilt water' values.

Like I said, it's all about the eye contact, strong handshakes, and of course, grace.

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Found this to be useful? Here are some previous guides:
Rubik's Cube: A Guide to not appearing Stupid
A Guide to Girlie Shopping (by a guy)

4 comments:

  1. Eye contact, strong handshakes & grace. I'll add to it - remaining cool, calm & composed.

    It would be very easy to panic in such situations. However, maintaining the right frame of mind helps! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. awesome wrtiting style!

    loved it!

    ReplyDelete
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    http://padhyb.blogspot.in/2013/04/ABiggerBeggar.html

    Thanks,
    Bibaswan

    ReplyDelete