top of page

Speak to "Express" Not to "Impress"

The first topic I ever unpacked for hertelier, back in 2021, was in response to an email from a friend and former colleague who wrote to tell me, I'm Nervous About Starting My Job After A Year Off Work.


She was looking for my advice, back when Unpack It with Nancy was meant to be an “agony aunt” column, meaning: "a person, esp. a woman, who replies to the letters of readers in a newspaper or magazine column (agony column) giving advice, consolation, etc." according to Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition.  


Out of my subsequent 114 columns for hertelier, only something like half a dozen have been responses to emails from readers.  But that’s not the point here.  After rereading column #1, I realized I had given the notion of speaking to express, rather than impress short shrift. 


speak to express not impress

As part of my response, I wrote, “Here’s an incredibly valuable piece of advice my greatest mentor gave me: Speak to “express”, not to “impress.” I have done both and understanding the difference was life changing. For me, when I speak to express, I’m sharing a thought, an idea, a concept… it encourages connection, conversation and is a confidence builder. When I used to speak to impress, it was all about me wanting to show how smart I was, shutting down any kind of meaningful communication…and the resulting vibe was a real confidence killer.”


The express versus impress topic has been on my mind a lot, lately, given that I am being invited to be interviewed for podcasts, to be on panels, to be a guest speaker…which is all lovely, except for that fact that I have been a behind-the-scenes person throughout most of my career - the interview-er, not the interviewee; the moderator, not the panelist; the director/producer, the coach, the speech writer, the make- the-other-person -look -good person…and now that the tide is turning, I find myself tempted to try to “impress”, which for me, is a disaster, because I know better!!!  

I have been a behind-the-scenes person throughout most of my career - the interview-er, not the interviewee; the moderator, not the panelist; the director/producer, the coach, the speech writer, the make- the-other-person -look -good person…and now that the tide is turning, I find myself tempted to try to “impress”, which for me, is a disaster, because I know better!!!  

Have you ever been at a meeting, or a conference or an event where you come away thinking “oh, that speaker is so smart, or so cool or so whatever” as opposed to “that’s so interesting, what a great idea, I never looked at it that way”?  That’s the essence of express versus impress.  


It’s natural to want to leave a positive impression, but that’s different from trying to impress someone,  so I turned to ChatGPT to explain that difference:


“Trying to impress someone usually involves intentional actions aimed at gaining their admiration or approval. It can be more about showcasing certain qualities or achievements to create a favorable impression in the short term.


Nancy Mendelson hertelier

Leaving an impression, on the other hand, is more about the lasting impact you have on someone, often through your character, actions, or the way you make them feel. It might not be something you actively strive for; rather, it's the result of genuine interactions and the way you carry yourself over time. This impression can be positive or negative and may affect how the person perceives you in the long term.” 


Thank you, ChatGPT.  Impressive!!!



Comments


bottom of page