Bridget Jones’s Diary is all about introductions, and let’s say our heroine sure knows how to leave a first impression.
When she meets Mark Darcy at the annual “ugly sweater” Christmas party, she is hung over and shamelessly puffing a cigarette in his face. When she speaks at the launch of Kafka’s Motorbike, she nearly forgets the name of her pervy boss and insults every author in the room. Perhaps, she is best when she introduces people she knows.
PERPETUA: Anyone going to introduce me?
BRIDGET (to herself): Introduce people with thoughtful details. Perpetua, this is Mark Darcy. Mark’s a prematurely middle-aged prick with a cruel-raced ex-wife. Perpetua’s a fat-ass old bag who spends her time bossing me around… Maybe not.
PERPETUA: Anyone going to introduce me?
BRIDGET (out loud): Ah, Perpetua. This is Mark Darcy. Mark’s a top barrister. Comes from Grafton Underwood. Perpetua is one of my work colleagues.
It makes me wonder. What kind of impression did I leave in April?
I work from home, but I “meet” new people all the time, consulting with hospitals nationwide. Case managers, physicians, company colleagues. Our goal is to do what is right for each and every patient at each and every hospital admission. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t, but we have to at least be open to discuss the issues. Getting defensive is not going to improve patient care. Being clear-minded and receptive is what will turn the tide.
We need to be receptive in other areas of our lives too, not just at work. We need to be open and kind to ALL the people we meet. That means speaking to one another with respect and kindness. Even good humor when the timing is right.
Each person you meet is unique and special, and each is an opportunity for a new first impression. From the cashier at the grocery store to the homeless man on the corner. That’s why I say hi to the mail woman and wave to the man delivering my oil. I smile at cashiers and say thank you to janitors. I do not know that it makes a difference in their day, but it does in mine.
I appreciate what it means to be appreciated.
Sometimes a first impression falls flat though.
We are all bound to have an off day here and there. Maybe a bad dream kept you up late last night and you are dog tired. Maybe your boss chewed you out for something that wasn’t your fault. Maybe you have a disagreement with your spouse or your best friend doesn’t return your calls. Maybe another friend calls on you only because he wants something. Maybe you worry about a loved one who has taken ill.
My month in a nutshell.
It can be hard to shake off life’s low points, whatever they may be. In times of stress, you may come off as tentative or rub someone the wrong way. All you can do is try to let things go, refocus on the positive, and move on.
Unfortunately, there will always be people ready to label you based on a single interaction. Did you try that food they offered you? If not, maybe they don’t see you as accepting or open-minded. Did you ask about their health, job, or family? Maybe you are too nosy. Did you dance like Elaine Benes at the company party? Maybe you have more to worry about than a lack of coordination.
Everyone needs to stop being Judgy McJudgersons.
You cannot expect to know everything about a person based on a single interaction, and sometimes you have to cut people some slack. People are complex, some more guarded than others, with layers to peel back before you get to the good stuff. If they continue to offer less than stellar impressions, well, that is a whole other onion.
Mark Darcy replied to Bridget’s winning introduction with one of his own.
MARK: This is Bridget Jones. Bridget, this is Natasha. Natasha is a top attorney and specializes in family law. Bridget works in publishing and used to play naked in my paddling pool.
Bridget offered him a less than stunning first impression, but he saw past it to like her just as she was. Playing naked in the paddling pool sure didn’t hurt her cause either. It goes to show that taking the time to get to know someone, beyond that first impression, can build new and meaningful connections.
Hi, my name is Tanya, and it’s nice to meet you.