Why we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or a colleague or prospect either

First impressions

First impressions are important. When meeting someone in business for the first time I am sure we all do our best to present ourselves well. That is simple commercial sense. Sometimes if we get a poorer impression of someone else when we meet them we do not pursue the relationship. If we instinctively feel like that then it may be best to let it go.

However, if we are not sure how we feel or we can’t immediately work out what makes another person tick, maybe we should give it a bit longer.

The Story of a Simple Soul

British author H. G. Wells' 1895 novel The Tim...

H G Wells - Image via Wikipedia

This theme really does remind me of my attitude to a particular book when I was about fourteen. It was a set book for English literature and we spent ages dissecting it in class and being asked to analyse various parts of it for homework. I didn’t understand the value of that book during the Summer Term. It seemed very boring to have to take it to bits and write essays about it.

However, when school broke up we had one of those rather rainy changeable summers like several we have had recently in England. I was an avid reader of fiction (still am) and one day I had read all the books in the house and it was too wet to walk to the library a couple of miles away. I picked up the school set book and read it from the beginning to the end as one would normally read a book except at school. Do you know what? The book was brilliant and funny, and a really great read.

What was the book? Kipps (not an affiliate link) by H G Wells. It was the book upon which the musical “Half a Sixpence” was based. I really recommend it, but when I had approached it from the wrong angle I had thought I wouldn’t like it.

The wrong end of the stick

Several years ago I met someone who I thought was a bit of a “wide boy” which means someone a bit untrustworthy, doing dodgy deals. A ducker and diver as we say in in England. I used to see him rather a lot at various meetings but didn’t take him seriously.

Yet eventually I had to deal with this chap as we had joint responsibility via a committee for organising some events. I came to realise that he was hard working, capable, kind and generous. I would trust him to look after financial issues on my behalf, which means complete trust as far as I am concerned.

So my first impression was a little off target, wasn’t it?

Setting the filters

With prospects I cannot engage them as clients if I am not comfortable with them, which is why I always like to spend time with them; at least an hour or so. But if they mess me around in terms of our first appointment e.g. change it more than twice without a convincing reason, I assume they are time wasters or potential troublesome clients. I don’t take them on.

Just the same, it is mostly worth giving people a run to see how they are. Many might become very good clients or great business friends. Do you give people a good run for their money – or yours?


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