First impressions – they feel so accurate, but it’s so easy to get them wrong.
When we meet somebody new, we size that person up in just a few seconds.
A few seconds, that’s all it takes to decide whether or not we like somebody, whether we trust them, whether or not we want to get to know them better. We make snap judgments about others all the time based on our first impressions of them. And other people are constantly making snap judgments about us too.
Once we make these snap judgments about other people, we rarely change our minds later.
We rarely change our minds after a first impression because humans are hard-wired to make snap judgments.
Why is this? It could be because our ancestors rarely had the luxury of taking weeks and weeks to decide which situations were dangerous for them and which situations were safe. If our ancestors came across a group of people while they were out hunting, they would have to decide within seconds whether these new people were friends or enemies.
If they judged wrong, they might not survive the encounter. We seem to have inherited this kind of brain, with its need to make snap judgments on others, based on first impressions. Our brains seem to have a built-in mechanism for deciding rather quickly which people we should trust, and which people we should avoid.
If a person seems a bit different to us, we may become suspicious or even hostile. If he doesn’t look us in the eye, or if he says something the slightest bit odd, we may instantly and forever decide that this is a person we want nothing to do with.
So, are we always right in our first impressions of other people? Not necessarily. Sometimes we do change our minds about others, but it’s rare. For us to change our minds about people after we have met them, we have to believe that they have somehow changed. We rarely think to ourselves that our initial impression of somebody was wrong.
Sometimes we get an odd feeling about somebody and it turns out that we are right, that person really is a crook or a serial killer.
Sometimes we get an odd feeling about somebody, and we are wrong. That person is simply a bit different, that’s all. In fact, we might really find that person can become a treasured friend if we get to know them better.
Our tendency to make snap judgments about others is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.
Ask yourself if you are usually open to the people you meet, unless they prove that they are somehow untrustworthy?
Or, are you usually hostile and suspicious of others until you get to know them better?
If you have a tendency to be suspicious of those you meet until you know them better, you may be too judgmental. By being too judgmental, you may be cutting off the possibilities of good friendships and relationships.
On the other hand, if you are too trusting, you may end up getting exploited by people who will manipulate you for their own gain.
So, what is the best way to approach new people? Don’t make snap judgments before you get to know them. Enter into new relationships with an open mind, and open eyes.
This article was written by Royane Real, author of the popular book "Your Guide to Finding Friends, Making Friends and Keeping Friends" To learn how to improve your social life, download it today at http://www.lulu.com/real