We think and talk a lot about “making a good first impression” but not as much about “making a good last impression.” The last impression is the one you’ll go back to and think about and have to live with if someone should die before you get a chance to see them again. If it’s good, it won’t get in the way of whatever you’re feeling about their death. If it’s bad, you’re likely to have guilt or confusion or anger piled up on top of your grief. A bad last impression can spin inside your head forever because you’re not going to see them again to make it right. Trust me, I know this and you don’t want it.
Death amplifies this, for sure, but the last impression applies every time you’re no longer with someone. The people at work when you go home, the people at the party when you call it a night, the people on the bus when you get off at your stop – they are all left with some kind of impression of you, one you can’t change until the next time you get a chance to make a new one.
I am thinking about how powerful a change we could make in how our society operates if we all thought about our last impressions. There’s huge value in considering how you will look back on the interaction you’re having in any moment. Consider how different things would be if we were all meticulous in how we left every conversation with with friends, family, lovers, coworkers – even strangers. And I’m not only thinking about interactions in person, but also what we write to each other using Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.
Everything you say and write conveys how you feel about someone (and yourself). Between now and the next time you’ll talk with them, what do you want both of you to feel? What do you want them to remember forever? Have you said what you wanted to say? Have you let that person know how you really feel? Are you being true to yourself?
What if you were never given the chance to add anything more? Would you be ok with that?
I ask because one day it will be true: you won’t get a second chance to make a last impression.