Wednesday, 6 May 2009

First impressions.

When you meet someone, do you make a snap judgement and then find it hard to shake that first impression? Would you assume all bikers wearing a denim cutoff are chicken raping lunatics who ride far too fast?
That everyone with dreadlocks smokes cannabis? All skinheads are racists?
We base our first impressions on what we have learnt through everyday experience, this is also modified by what we pick up from the media, the tendency is to lump people into recognisable groups, this gives us something to work from; when we evaluate those people we meet for the first time. Unless we have prior knowledge, i.e. have been told what to expect, we judge initally by appearance, as that is the first thing that makes an impact on our conciousness, next would usually be voice and then what people say and do.
Making snap judgements on what we see is a survival tactic, to evaluate any threat we need information and normally the only available information is what we see before us. This information is processed against what we have already filed away in our heads, when we acquire some input, this is compared to any available information stored in our minds, from there we draw a conclusion that provokes the appropriate response. All living things have done this since they first became aware of the world around them, the difference here is that humans can use intelligence to collate and refine the information to a higher degree. This allows us to modify our first impressions somewhat, we can draw on far more resources to make a much better judgement call on the person we are observing. Even so, until we have sufficient facts we are still guessing; and those guess's are based on experience and/or hearsay. This means most people are pre-judged before we have time to form a proper opinion, once that first impression is made it can be hard to shake off.

You might be the brighest bloke in the world, but if you turn up for an interview looking like an extra from Mad Max, then you are not going to make the sort of impression you need to make to get the job. We dress as we feel we need to match the occassion, or used to, I have noticed a marked change in the way people dress these days, mostly they dress down, now I'm not the best authority in the world, I have the dress sense of a deranged gibbon and tend to look like a reject from a 70's biker movie in my everyday clothes. When going out I rely on Ruth (my better half) to arrange the appropriate clothing, but I do make the effort, it is polite and courteous to dress for the occassion, this way people also get the wrong first impression of me. Many moons ago when I met my wifes parents for the first time, I remember the look of horror on her dads face, he was standing by his car outside and this leatherclad nutcase pulled up on a ratted out, matt black, CB750 Honda, with open pipes and rather tall apehangers. It didnt help that she was 17 and I was 27.....yet it was not long before we became mates, even though I have been divorced from his daughter for nearly 20 years, he stills calls me now and again.
He gave me a chance to prove myself and it worked out, thinking back, if I had been him; I would have chased me off with a big stick!

In this modern world, we seem to have so little time for others, we are constanly rushing around and making instant judgements on everything, should we not slow it down when making those judgements on fellow humans? Have you missed someone who could have been a new friend, lover or even soulmate, just because you didnt take the time to slow down and evaluate them properly.

Next time you meet someone new, take the time to talk to them, get to know them, you just never know......

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