In his book, "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose," Joe Biden writes about the first time he met Barack Obama. This meeting tool place right after Obama became a junior senator from Illinois. Obama wanted to meet with Biden to pay his respects and express his interest in being on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden was the top Democrat, and since there was an open seat, he could make it happen. Biden was already considering Obama for that seat because he felt that Obama would be a good asset to have on the committee.
Since they did not have much time to talk when they met, Biden suggested they ought to get together soon for a meal together after work. Biden said he knew an excellent Italian restaurant nearby. And he further added, "It was not too fancy." Obama probably latched on to the word "not fancy," and said that we can go to a nice place, and added, "I can afford it."
Biden latched on to the word, "I can afford it."
We have a future president and his future vice president developing a negative first impression of each other. And this is based on how both interpreted the phrase "not too fancy" and "I can afford it."
We all run into this misunderstanding when we are meeting someone for the first time. We latch on to every word or phrase and then develop a first impression that is very hard to change. Often, relationships start or end with the first impression.
Biden initially felt that Obama was arrogant for saying, "I can afford it." Obama probably thought that Biden thought that he could not afford to go to a fancy restaurant.
So how did this first impression change? By getting to know each other a lot better.
But after Biden got to know Obama a little better, Biden was able to better understand why Obama would say, "I can afford it." Biden felt that Obama might have been offended that Biden took him for someone with limited resources to afford a fancy restaurant. But he points out that Obama probably did not know that he was indeed a man of limited resources that's why he said the restaurant he had picked out was not too fancy.
How often do we meet people, and things get said, and we develop a wrong impression?
Biden and Obama invested time in getting to know each other better such that Obama picked Biden as his vice president and developed a strong friendship that he goes on to describe in his book.
So learn from these two successful leaders that trusting relationships are hard to start and even harder to nurture. It takes a lot of work. And no one knows how to build and nurture relationships better than Joe Biden. That is his superpower.
Jay Oza is an author, speaker, executive coach. He makes people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. He is the author of a practical book Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. You can get this book on Amazon for 99 cents for a limited time. Please download the free speech checklist that you can use to help you create a winning speech for any situation.
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