Working Wounded Blog: Wrong First Impressions

Seattle went through a very difficult fall this year, and no, it didn't have anything to do with the amount of rain we received.

We were one of the lucky cities to play host to the "American Idol" crew and its fabled auditions. That is until Simon and the gang blasted our kids' singing, clothing and general competence.

In fact, the buzz from the Seattle auditions was that they were the "worst" in the six-year history of the show. Simon Cowell said the look of the Northwest kids was "something out of the Addams family." And Ryan Seacrest referred to Seattle as being a "talent vacuum." And there is a guy who knows something about talent vacuums.

Of course, last week the two finalists for "Idol" were both from those very auditions in Seattle. Yep, the worst in the history of the show. But don't stop there. Apolo Anton Ohno, another Northwesterner, danced away with our hearts, and the top prize, in the "Dancing With the Stars" finale.

Am I just a bitter Seattleite? Probably. But I still do think it's worth pointing out that first impressions often don't stand the test of time. In reality TV, life or at work.

Which reminded me of a rule that I figured out in high school, sometime in the last century. I realized that all of the teachers that I ended up really liking I didn't like at the start of the year. And vice versa.

To me, first impressions are interesting, but I like more data points before I decide to go down a particular path, no matter how promising it may appear at first blush.

Take my last doctor. (Please!) It's ironic, but when doctors find out that you write a work advice column, they tend to spend half the appointment telling me about their troubles. Free of charge, of course. Seriously, I learned that I had to get my medical stuff addressed in the first five minutes of the appointment or it would get drowned in griping about insurance companies, reimbursement and general public disdain for the profession.

I'll never forget when one doctor proudly told me that he knew he wanted to be a doctor when he was 12. And now he was miserable. Maybe people shouldn't make lifelong career choices before their bar mitzvah or confirmation. What a concept.

I know that we all put a lot of weight on first impressions and on what we hear from our gut. I'm not saying that we should run in the opposite direction, but simply that our first impressions may be wrong. Maybe amid the flotsam and jetsam there can be some real pearls that we overlooked the first time through. Did you hear that Simon?

I believe a big part of the problem is how we're all trying to take short cuts, 24/7. My girlfriend is really going to belly laugh at this one, but isn't it time that we all spent a little time reflecting? Thinking before acting.

Let's all take in our first impressions. But let's also give weight to the third, seventh and 20th, too.

Quote of the Week

"My favorite thing is to go where I've never been." -- Diane Arbus

Book Excerpt of the Week

From "True Colors" by Roger Birkman (Nelson, 1995)

"There are already too many barriers that prevent people from working (and playing) together. It's a shame when mere differences in personality keep people apart rather than motivating them to depend on each other instead. Perhaps your new understanding of personality components will allow you to be a facilitator in combating this problem."

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, an internationally syndicated columnist, popular speaker, and a recent addition to the community of bloggers. He welcomes your comments at bob@workingwounded.com.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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