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Leaving Good Impressions on People

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Hi everyone

Have you ever felt pressured to leave a good impression on others, either by yourself or by other people? By others, I mean more specifically those who are higher up the chain; your parents, employers, superiors, teachers .. i.e. the people who have the power to make your life a living hell, or so they say. Leaving a good impression on others has been a top priority for most of my life until Rand. I (hopefully correctly) identified that element in me as a Keating-element and proceeded to try and 'disable' it. So I don't feel pressured by myself to do that anymore (at least not on that level).

But because of that, other people (specifically family and friends) are pressuring me to do that. I don't know how to deal with that. My policy up until now has been just to turn off that part of me in my mind. Hopefully, it's the right thing to do - to have existence and not other people as the primary orientation to reality. I just mean that worrying about what other people think of you will get you nowhere and that acting according to your best knowledge and practicing a policy of honesty is much better.

But I don't like it when people are trying to intimidate me into becoming the guy who just wants his bosses to think well of him. I'd appreciate any input on this - there are not many people I can talk to in my life who see this as an issue.

Thanks

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Leaving a good impression shouldn't make you feel second-handed. Your boss should have a good impression of you; the same goes for everybody in life that you value. What specifically about your family's counsel upsets you?.

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Oh, they're just scared that my superiors will make my life a living hell because making a good impression on them is not my top priority.

But I've had this policy before, in high school, with my teachers - that they had a good impression of me was my top priority, because it got me good grades - and it had such a corrupting influence on me that I feel the consequences of it to this day.

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Leaving a good impression shouldn't make you feel second-handed. Your boss should have a good impression of you; the same goes for everybody in life that you value. What specifically about your family's counsel upsets you?.

It's just that they want me to appeal to people's consciousnesses instead of focusing on my work. They seem to take it really hard when and if I make mistakes in my work, and not because it would hinder my work, but because of what my superiors will think about my mistakes, what they will think about me, what will be my standing among them. It's annoying.

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Isn't your boss impressed mostly by the work you do? I'm sure there are a few other things that are incidental to work which also impress him or detract from his impression of you, but are these things he would consider important in your professional relationship with him? In other words, is there really a huge dichotomy between:

  • things you would do as a good worker; and,
  • things that would impress your boss

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In other words, is there really a huge dichotomy between:

  • things you would do as a good worker; and,
  • things that would impress your boss

How would I know? I can't read their minds. I don't know what they're impressed by. I don't know if they're rational people. All I can do is what they ask me to and that's it.

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How would I know? I can't read their minds.
Usually we get impressions about others without the read-mind faculty :) Obviously we can be wrong, but that does not mean we're blind.

Anyhow, the more important things is that you should do your job as well as you can, and figure out how to do it even better. That's the way to maximize your own satisfaction, and it is almost certainly the way to impress your boss. In other words, there's probably no dichotomy.

Sometimes though, the real dichotomy is between what it takes to do a job well and what an employee thinks it takes to do a job well.

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Pretending to be someone you're not in order to leave a good impression: bad.

Boasting to a level of harassment about every good thing you do: bad.

Maintaining a positive attitude, good hygiene, and being proud of what your accomplishments say about you: good.

It sounds like you have the right priorities, but just in case: being nice/sociable is not intrinsically second-handed,

especially towards people you actually admire. All you have to avoid is putting on a facade, and even then, professional

behavior and courtesy have contexts in which they are in your best rational interest to maintain.

Don't try to leave a good impression, try to leave a correct one, and if you share values with whoever you're interacting

with the rest takes care of itself. Again, that sounds like what you're already aiming for, so no objections here.

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I think it's pretty rational if you want the people you deal with on a daily basis to not think bad things about you.

It seems your concern (And I might be assuming here) is when trying to look good becomes more important than actually being good.

If anyone, family or not, attempts to pressure you into that sort of thinking, I think it's clear that you know the proper reaction to it.

Edited by CptnChan

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It seems your concern (And I might be assuming here) is when trying to look good becomes more important than actually being good.

If anyone, family or not, attempts to pressure you into that sort of thinking, I think it's clear that you know the proper reaction to it.

Yeah, but they don't make the distinction - even I can barely sense it - so it's difficult for me to carry my own in spite of them. Maybe I just need to learn to ignore that. With that policy, however, it gets hard to seriously consider anything else they say. Why does it have to be this hard?

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I'd like to add that I often find myself on the defensive, i.e. I am pressured to defend my own actions, though there seems to be no specific reason to do so nor is there any specific party that I feel I have to explain myself to. The best term I could come up with that sums up how I feel about this is that I feel forced to 'correct the collective consciousness'. You know how you don't want people to start thinking poorly of you, so you disseminate positive (and true) information about yourself? Facebook and Twitter are great tools for this; perhaps I should start using those ...

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What are the prime examples of things you are being asked to do to impress people, but which you judge unnecessary (or even counter-productive)?

Keep explaining myself to them, to insane detail, and with the sole purpose of saving face.

So it's not to impress, but to "prevent" the opposite.

Edited by ppw

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With that policy, however, it gets hard to seriously consider anything else they say. Why does it have to be this hard?
Exactly: Why should you sweat it?

Rand put it that O'ism should show us how to enjoy ourselves and live, rather than suffer, and die. So, there is something you are missing here, that attention to your premises might help.

Dealing with people is not always easy and clear-cut, and often totally disappointing. But we have to start with ourselves:

First, one's personality, which is pretty much a 'given'. Some people just are "nicer" than others, and, on balance, would prefer to leave behind a good impression. If it exists in reality, and entails no compromise, why not show it?

Character and conviction, though, take more time to form - and are directly or indirectly within your control, by your self-image and world-view.

Here's an important point, I think: concentrating on not being a second-hander, can bring about that very thing one tries to avoid (a self-fulfilling prophecy, in fact) - extreme, or over concern with the opinion of others, to the extent of becoming chameleon-like, or ego-sacrificing. Aim at 'first-handedeness' instead.

Focus solely on first-handed virtues and character traits, which are - independence of mind, honesty, self-esteem and integrity. The net result creates 'self-authority', gradually over time..

Another distinction: In my case, I was always anti-authoritarian, and it took me quite a bit of thinking out the critical difference between 'authority' and 'expertise'. Instead of opposing all and any authority, unthinkingly as I once did, I've had to understand better that there are always going to be those who know better, in some field - and to learn to respect them, and take something of value away from it. That is beneficial 'authority'. It does not sacrifice one's independence to learn from. It represents the give and take of expertise that is only one of many values to be found being among benevolent, self-respecting, people. But as for Authority 'qua Authority', and anybody seeking to dominate your mind; yes, they are never worthy of any attention..

What is quite incredible is that one's principles quickly become obvious to other people (those who are not so close, too) - often, without displaying them explicitly. I think this is a good thing, since it shows one is living out those principles, with honest confidence. So without working at it, good, worthwhile people will gain an excellent impression of you, anyway. Do the rest matter much?

However, there will inevitably be difficult times with people. But at least, the reasons will be fairly obvious. It will usually be with those who - despite one's general good will and basic respect - fear an independent mind, or can't bear a truthful individual. I believe many of these types exist. After allowing some benefit of the doubt, in order to be certain, walking away from them is the only rationally selfish choice.

The character of Howard Roark is the egoist concept, made concrete - and he is an important symbol we can be inspired by at times - but we should remember that you and I are writing our own stories and characters.

Edited by whYNOT

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ppw,

Any relationship, aside from marriage, is a limited one. Your relationship with your boss is based on exchanging trustworthy and valuable labor for money; that's the primary standard by which he should be impressed with you. Of course, it's not all about results: character plays a role, too, but only what the job requires.

Cultivate good virtues, and let others think of you what they will; keep close to you those that are impressed by you, and let the others go on their way.

You mentioned not being able to know that they're rational people. That's okay - they only have to be rational enough within the context of the relationship; anything else is theirs to deal with "off the clock". Leave out things that don't matter. Who cares if your boss is a Christian, or a bass fishing enthusiast, or Celine Dion fan, or anything else (rational or not) that doesn't matter at work? What matters is: does he treat you well, pay you fairly, and acknowledge your work? Or is he a micromanaging buffoon who sabotages your efforts?

Leave out what doesn't matter, and you'll not only be able to focus on the values that will get you ahead in life, but you won't be distracted by your judgments of the unimportant aspects of the lives of those "higher up the chain".

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"Keep explaining myself to them, to insane detail, and with the sole purpose of saving face."

This is unclear -- just what are you explaining about yourself? Or rather, what about you needs explaining? This seems like an odd situation.

As several here have already mentioned, it is the quality of the work you do that is primary. If that work requires a pleasant, easy-going manner with co-workers and/or customers, then those qualities are naturally going to be examined as well.

Just out of high school (ages ago....) I took a job that required some basic graphic arts skills. My skills were actually in a different but related line, but I was hired. This despite (I was told later) competition from better qualified applicants. My boss told me that I was hired because of my personality -- I was cheerful, quickly established a good rapport with other people, and communicated well. He figured that the graphic arts skills I lacked could be easily taught, whereas the working with people skills could not be so easily taught, being a matter largely of personality (hard to change). So don't make the assumption that personality traits are irrelevant.

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"Keep explaining myself to them, to insane detail, and with the sole purpose of saving face."

This is unclear -- just what are you explaining about yourself? Or rather, what about you needs explaining? This seems like an odd situation.

It's not really a discrete situation, but more of an ongoing thing. In essence, it's about constantly reassuring others that you acted morally (properly) in certain situations for fear of them thinking poorly of you.

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In the long run, people will get an impression of you that reflects your true person. So, as others have said, it's your own work standards, personal standards, etc. that really matter, because they will eventually reflect out to others consistently, forming an impression. There really is no long-term way of hiding who you are from other people -- eventually, they will gather the truth, whether you think you're successfully putting up a good act or not.

In the short term, if someone gets a really skewed impression of you and it makes a real, concrete difference for something that is going on in your life -- such as, your attendance record is recorded mistakenly and that is a criteria your boss will use to determine a promotion -- of course, correct that false impression. Otherwise for unimportant issues, I personally just trust that an impression will become fuller over time, and I let my own work speak for itself.

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