First Impressions – SJMSOM

First Impressions

How often in your life have you associated people with colors? And how often do you start viewing a person with extreme respect and reverence just 10 minutes after having met them?

Well, this happened with a few of us on a fine Monday morning. Having been on campus for almost a fortnight, all of us had had enough time and opportunities to meet and interact with our fellow batch-mates and formulate a mental perception about them. This is one of the unique characteristic of human beings that always seems to fascinate me. A lot depends on the impression that you cast on a person in your first meeting. I had the chance to interact with my peers through a series of assignments and fun activities on campus. The ones who interacted with me on assignments remember me one way, but the ones with whom I had the fun activities remember me in a whole different way. And this is very much reflected whenever we cross paths now, through our chance encounters in the hallway, the canteen or the classes. Some remember me to be a fun-loving person, and some, well let’s just say, not-so-fun loving. However, it was me, the same person in these two different contexts, and the ones who are privy to the fun side of me would find it hard to believe when they find out the other not-so-fun side.

This, I believe, holds true for all first interactions between two individuals, or a group. Human beings like to connect names to faces and faces to characters and personalities mentally. When you get to see a certain side of their persona, then that is the image of that person that you carry with yourself primarily. Now I am not saying that this image is permanent and cannot be changed. The subsequent interactions between people tend to reshape this image in many different ways. But that happens only in cases where you start working together more frequently. In all other cases, this first impression is what remains.

So, coming back, I had been at NITIE for just about two weeks, and the classes had already started getting boring. Most of the concepts were either too simple, or too practical or maybe my expectations from a B-school were too far-fetched. Attending seemingly endless 90-minute lectures from professors was the last thing that I had in my mind. However, just like every cloud has a silver lining, there was this one class that I always used to look forward to: “Business Communication” or Bizcom as we like to call it informally here.

There was something different about this class and the lovely professor who used to conduct it. Do not get me wrong, she is all graceful and charming, but she also gets irritated very easily when things are not according to her, and then this enchanting image may turn real ugly real soon. But fortunately, so far, none of us have witnessed that side of her persona. There was something in her ways in which she used to captivate the attention of the whole class and extract maximum participation from each and every one of us. So, this was kinda becoming my favorite class and one that I looked forward to. One class where it didn’t matter how much sleep I had had the previous night or whether I had my breakfast or whether I had an umpteen number of pending assignments nearing their deadlines. Ultimately, this was one class where I used to feel at ease and relaxed, and actually enjoyed learning. And by the way, as you might have already guessed it, the theory wasn’t too heavy, but had profound consequences in the cases and examples she used to bring up in class, and that’s the part that I like best. It was like you are already aware of these effects and consequences of communication, consciously or sub-consciously, but they have never been presented to you or taught to you in an organized and formulated manner. These are some of the subjects that I believe should be included in the curriculum at earlier stages too.

So, this fine Monday morning, just like all other Monday mornings, I turned up to the class, sleep-deprived and empty stomach, a bit later than my usual timing and got a seat at the back. (I try to sit in the front benches in her class, quite contrary to my regular sitting position in other classes). And as usual, she was on time. We started off with a small refresher on last week’s content and then learnt about the “Interpersonal Touch” – a concept that I am never going to forget in my life.

The theory was okay, and none of us had truly realized the potential of it until what happened next. The professor asked us to divide ourselves into groups of 4 based on our seating arrangements, and I knew then that something interesting was coming up. Usually, all her exercises are really engaging and deliver an overall exhilarating experience, but this one was out of the league, on a whole different level, and little was I or, for that matter, anyone in the class aware of it.

The task was simple: Get together in your group and introduce yourself to your team within the next 5 minutes. Easy, Right? Wait till you get to the fun part. We were all done with the introductions within the next 5 minutes and awaiting further instructions.

Now, she asked two of the adjacent 4-member groups to come together and form a single group by means of a merger. We found our adjacent teams and merged with them.

The next task was…well, if your guess is ‘easy’, then you are wrong. Now came the real twist. We were asked to once again introduce ourselves to the merged teams, but this was not a generic introduction. This was a very specific one. Within the next 10 minutes, we were asked to share one such experience in our lives that was “the” defining moment for us.

There are some milestone memories in one’s life, those that leave a permanent mark on our psyche and define the very personality that we put on today. These milestone memories are usually characterized by extreme emotions and intense feelings. They can be from the first time you fell while riding a bike, the first time you won an award on stage for the school fancy dress competition, the first kiss of your first love, your first heartbreak, the time when you fought back against the neighborhood bully, the birth of a child for a mother, the time you were embarrassed in public in front of your peers, losing your pet or the death of a loved one, the time you lost even after having given your all to it. Some of these memories, moments mold and define who you are today in life.

Now usually, these moments are very private and it’s not easy for one to tell it to a friend, let alone share it with a group of random individuals. Another very interesting attribute of the human psychology that I feel is the need that one feels to maintain an image, or rather, an invisible cloak or shell that one puts around him thus giving himself a sense of invulnerability, and what the professor had just done was asked us to rip this invisible cloak and show our true, hidden selves to each other. And on top of this, there were another set of instructions issued. The team had to give each one of us a color after listening to “the” experience. A color that best describes the person who just decided to remove his cloak of protection and be emotionally naked in front of his team. A colour that first comes to mind at the sight of this person. But as of now, two minutes had already passed and there was only one color that I could see on each of my teammate’s face – BLACK. Black, resembling the hesitation and fear of being judged by others after sharing their personal experiences.

Anyways cutting it short, it all ended well and the learning experience was phenomenal. I rose up with admiration and reverence for each other. Courage to fight hesitation, never giving up attitude can turn our lives around and encourage us to keep moving forth in this journey called Life. We judge others effortlessly similar to creating impressions, what follows is our biased perception. Pay heed to it.

This was the most memorable classroom experience that I had in my B-School so far. And now, I believe, you know the answer to the question that had risen in my mind before: Was it worth a simple class exercise?


My Dream company –

I want to work with Hindalco Industries Limited because I believe it: –

– Can provide me with the opportunity to work with ABG across diverse profiles, industries and geographies and solve business problems relevant to the group with ideas that I have to offer.

– Is known to be a company where within a few years of joining, one could look at being in the Senior Management of the organization.

– Would resonate with my core values and principles.

– Is known for creating great leaders who can handle continuous uncertainty and an ever-increasing competition.

– Would be a continuation of my previous experience.