Our daily walks with Willa, our dog, include a long stretch of sidewalk in the Warm Springs historic district of Boise. In front of several of the old mansions, the sidewalk is scattered with multiple leaf imprints.

Due to the COVID-19 shelter-at-home mandate, I’ve had the opportunity to experience more than the usual number of phone and Zoom connections. Regardless, at the end of each conversation, I stop and reflect on the exchange of words, tone, and delivery style—and I find myself wondering:

– What kind of impression did I make—was it positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing?
– What’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?

What kind of impression do you make?


35 thoughts on “Impressions

  1. I try to leave as few impressions in the environment as possible.

    I leave it to others to make what impressions they do of me.

    I just make what efforts I do to find a reasonable balance between my needs in the now, and creating a future that is as good as possible for everyone. A lot of that is best guesses, trying things out, cleaning up messes when I get it wrong (which happens a lot for anyone who is really trying out new things {another of Dad’s sayings, The man who never made a mistake never made anything}).

  2. I think about this as well. I try to be as positive as possible when Zooming, Skyping etc. One friend sent me a message and said she appreciated me being so upbeat at this time. It is could be so easy to get down. Carry on and Keep smiling!! Sending hugs.

  3. These are wonderful questions to ask ourselves as we participate in these kinds of connections. Thanks! Recalling a recent encounter where one person seemed to always jump in to be first to respond–and how annoying that can get. Allowing others to talk first and not dominate screen time is a helpful reminder for most of us. Thanks for stirring these reflections.

    • Melodie — You’re right. A person has to share “the lime light” with others, giving everyone an equal chance to chime in. Thank you for bringing up that aspect on virtual and in-person events. 🙂

  4. One thing is for you, the web cameras on laptops are not flattering! I’ve had to set aside worrying about looking about 110 on camera and focus on smiling lots, staying engaged. In some ways it is enlightening to be able to watch myself when I’m speaking, and to see how my face works when I’m talking. I have to pleased to find that I do have an animated face when speaking – even it it does look about 110!

    • Arlene — Your “110” comment made me laugh. I’m 100% confident that’s not the case.

      I set my laptop on a right-sized box so that people don’t have to look up my nostrils.

      And in a class on virtual events, I learned to stick “googlie eyes” (one each side of the camera), to remind me to look there, so the audience feels like I’m looking at them (even though I’m looking at a green light). 🙂

  5. Rest assured, what it’s like to be on the receiving end of YOU is all good: You are upbeat, succinct, never draining my energy with 1500 words. Keep it up. 🙂

    Three of my social connections have gone to Zoom: Pilates, my writers’ group, and today, the pre-school department at my church. Yesterday I read a short story to my writer friends, and there were no comments – just went on to the next reader. I took it as a sign that the story was too long and the moderator was mindful of the ticking clock. Still, I was disappointed.

    I certainly agree with Arlene: Web cams on laptops are not flattering. Ha!

    • Marian — First, thank you so much for the compliment.

      Second, based on what you shared regarding your social connections (and from what I’ve heard from others), it appears that virtual is the new normal.

      And not having been on pre-school department Zoom event, I can only share your guess that time was of the essence and the facilitator felt he/she needed to scurry everyone along. I think the takeaway is brevity. 🙂

  6. I love the image and the way you ask this question, Laurie. Instead of ego, what I feel is concern for quality of connection. “What is it like to be on the receiving end of me?” If we ask this question honestly and imaginatively, we become wiser. If we ask instead, “did I make a good impression?” we stay focused on externals, even on manipulation. These two can look the same to others, but they are very different on the inside.

  7. I have to shake my head and laugh because in all truth, I have not changed much from the caption in my high school yearbook: “Lois is quiet. Until you get to know her.” After that, it’s all downhill! 😀

  8. I try to be positive, friendly, cooperative, all the good stuff. Life’s tough enough without making your daily life miserable by associating with negative people or being negative yourself.

    I save my ranting and complaining for when I’m alone. Occasionally I’ll vent to my wife about “those idiots” somewhere or another. 😉


    • Chris — Fact! I’ve been in your presence at UW Madison’s Writers’ Institute on a few occasions and I can attest to the fact that you’re positive, friendly, and cooperative! 🙂

      And like you, I share your style on saving my grumbles for when I’m alone. Every now and then my husband, Len, is a sounding board for my vented frustration.

  9. I agree with other comments, you always bring a positive self to communications with a constructive and supportive focus.
    Whether I’m on a call, a FB messenger, or a Zoom meet up with friends, I come with an intention to be fully present and listen, to enjoy the moment, and if the other person is in some distress, ask what would be helpful (i.e. not assuming I know what is needed). Right now, I’ve also started check-in contacts with former coaching clients and my intention is simply to reach out, let them know I care, and do a lot of listening.
    I’ve been orienting myself to Zoom as a possible coaching tool (have used WebEx). I did find a short and useful You Tube presentation on looking your best on Zoom. In addition to the obvious good lighting need (best if natural light is in front of you), one take-away was setting up your laptop/phone camera slightly higher so one is looking up just a bit (this avoids the problematic shadows and double chin look). I remember a presentation you gave Laurie when you talked about the right make-up for the screen (now likely a certain “stick” makeup) … and I always use a light color on my lips. Smiling (as others have said) seems the most important.

    • Audrey — I love your intention of being “fully present and listen, to enjoy the moment.”

      Further, if you sense that the other person is in some distress, you ask what you can do that would be helpful (not assuming you know what is needed). You have “wise ears.”

      And yes, putting in some appearance-effort on my part helps me feel like I won’t scare anyone away 😂

      • Your last comment about not scaring anyone made me laugh. Thanks for the levity!

  10. I made the car mechanic laugh this morning – I must be doing something correctly! or at least fun. 5 years ago my Mentor died and she had a wonderful skill for saying something lovely and positive to everyone when she first greeted them or talked on the phone. I have tried to carry on her great tradition and right now, I am always asking if folks are healthy and feeling well. Good thoughts and when I am on Zoom, I am amazed at how red my face is??? It is much more vibrantly colorful on line? Folks are constantly telling me that I do not look like what they expect when they first meet me

    • Patricia — I love that you’re carrying on your mentor’s tradition of saying something lovely and positive. My hat is off to YOU!

      When you say your face is red, do you mean as in rosy-cheeked? You probably blossom when you’re around like-minded people 🙂

  11. Laurie, I often pay close attention to the expressions of people as I approach them. Just good scouting tactics. I must have a face like Elmo or a monkey because as I draw closer, I can see the beginnings of smiles, of the subtle sharpening of the wits, and the anticipations of a few minutes well- wasted in laughter, doubtful cracks about the poor sod in the charge of straightening out the country and time spent in good old-fashioned “gospeling over the fence” . I hope the smiles I see are the ones mirrored from my own. A smile is the least expensive gift you can give, it costs nothing and goes a long way.

  12. It has to be said Laurie in all the years I have been in contact with you I don’t thinks I’ve heard you say a negative word or phrase . You are always totally uplifting . 👍

    I am a mobile hairdresser( not now of course ) and I would like to think that I always bought a little joy into people’s homes as well as make them look beautiful. With the pandemic it’s so easy to be negative with all the sad news we are hearing daily but we have to look out for those tiny beautiful moments in our day that make us smile . Here’s a couple from yesterday.

    Do you have the Wren come into your garden ? They are tiny ruddy brown birds with a upright tail . We have some nesting in our garden at the mo , they are a delight . Tiny birds , huge singing voice …I mean HUGE always makes me smile .

    Colin did our weekly shop yesterday ( we take it in turns it releases the stress) dropped bags in hall way and had a cuppa , my poor husband was shattered . Where is Arthur( naughty King Charles spaniel who has made me laugh every day since having him ) nose in bag happily munching through a pork pie 🥴😂the cheek of it but we had to laugh .
    Cherryx ( sorry it’s a bit long )

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