“When I saw you walk into my room, I thought to myself…’Ooh, God, I’m in trouble.’”
A patient I took care of recently spoke these words to me in apology. Apparently, when I entered the patient’s room at the beginning of my shift, they took one look at me and expected the worst. They had already decided they got the short end of the stick when I was assigned to their care.
At the end of my shift, they wanted to let me know how wrong they were. They thought I was the most kind and caring nurse, and they were lucky to have met me.
I didn’t ask why their first impression of me was so dreadful. Maybe I should have. Was it how I looked? How I sounded? How I acted? Maybe I smelled funny? Did I stomp my feet when I walked?
First impressions are interesting to me, since we all make them. We decide how a person “is” at a glance. We decide how nice they may or may not be. We decide if they are a “good” or “bad” person in that brief moment. We do it time and time again, because for the most part, our first impression instinct is fairly accurate and correct.
But, every once in a while, you make a wrong first impression.
I’d like to argue that it’s these “once in a while” occurrences that should spark us to not make hasty judgments about anyone until we interact and speak with them. Judge them by their actions, their personality and their genuine ability to care.
I, for one, make this mistake way too often as a nurse when I see my patient assignments from afar. I’ll get a quick glance at the patient and decide how my day or shift will go. It’s horrible, I know. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only nurse who does it.
That particular patient gave me one of the greatest gifts that day. Thanks to their humble confession, my future patients won’t have to worry about me having a wrong first impression of them. I plan on making a conscious effort to give everyone the benefit of creating their own first impression.