Have you ever come out of a meeting and felt really good but nothing happened after that. Your subsequent emails didn’t even get returned and you were wondering what happened. You probably just experienced a first filter failure.
Everyone has filters
Everyone including you and me operate through our own filters to the external world. That’s why when you say something to another person, he or she might hear something else. It is a challenge and an opportunity. Challenge because unless you know what filters the other person is operating with, it will not be easy to craft a message that works. An opportunity because when you pay attention to this and learn to craft the right message, your messages will stand out compared to the other messages that were not crafted well.
The first filter
In general, everyone operates with what I call as the first filter. A filter that they apply when they come in contact with you the first time. if you don’t pay attention to this first filter, you don’t have to bother about the subsequent filters as you will at best get only partial attention from them moving forward.
When you meet with someone more powerful than you, it is common for the other person to make an assessment of you. You bring three things to that meeting:
1. Your Zeroth Impression
2. What you Say
3. Who You Are
Zeroth impression is what the other person perceives you based on everything he or she has heard or read.
What you say is, well, what you say.
Who you are is an assessment that the other person is making mostly about how you fit within the person’s ecosystem based on all the other things going on in the other person’s life.
The first filter not only takes all of the three elements into consideration but also is heavily weighted by the person who made the introduction between you two.
The bias of the first filter
Let us assume that you both met because of a good introduction.
The first filter is heavily biased towards the “zeroth impression” and “who you are.” What you say will influence the final assessment but if the zeroth impression is not strong enough, what you say is already diluted. Provided you have a reasonably good zeroth impression, then what you say and how you say what you say gets a priority treatment in the first filter.
The big payback
While it is super important to focus on what you say, it is even more important to keep growing and becoming a better you. In the long run, the biggest payback will come from all the investments that you make to yourself.