So many people might say that first impressions are not a big deal. And that they shouldn’t matter. Or at least not matter much. However, it seems that people that do not take much stock in first impressions do not seem to understand WHY they are so important for so many people. It’s not about judging in the way that people may think. It’s about recognizing something in someone right off the bat.
See, there is a group of people in this world that are able to pick up the “vibe” of someone without any further information. This group of people, called empaths, are able to literally feel how someone else is feeling. So if a stranger were to walk into a room, the empath is able to get a pretty accurate read on how that person is doing emotionally: happy, angry, sad, etc.
Now, even though the percentage of the population that science is identifying as true empaths is tiny (1-2%), it seems that someone can feel the energy that another person is emanating without taking on the feelings themselves. It’s the taking on the feelings that differentiates someone from being sensitive and being an empath.
Ok, so what does this mean and how does it impact first impressions? Basically, if someone is paying attention to someone they just meet, empath or not, they will likely make a quick (if not immediate) decision about whether or not they like a person. This is based on lots of things: looks, voice, word choice, sense of humor, hand shake, body posture, eye contact, smell (yes, this is a thing), attitude, etc. Pretty much any information that our senses can grab will provide enough information for us to make a super fast decision about the safety as well as likeability of a person. This is what a first impression is all about.
And no matter who you are or how many times you say, “I don’t judge”, it’s a bunch of bologna. Because as humans, we are hard wired to make quick assessments if for no other reason than for our immediate safety. Plus, we are so inundated with information ALL THE TIME that if we weren’t able to make quick assessments, we would be so bogged down with data that we would be totally stuck. These are not examples of judgment. These are examples of being human.
Now, where it becomes “judgy” is if you STAY in that place and if you refuse to allow the person to provide you with more information about who they are, about why they are they way they are, and what their back story is. This doesn’t mean that you will necessarily like them, but it means that you are suspending your judgement for at least a period of time to make an attempt to understand the person before you.
But using your first impression, using your initial (and nearly instant) assessment of a person and refusing to allow any further information in is for sure being judgmental. And that’s not cool.
Because everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has a back story. And there is a reason why they behave the way they do. And they likely have coping strategies that once served them but may not really be serving them any longer. And while first impressions are important, it is equally important to give someone the opportunity to show you who they really are. Now, this may match your first impression spot on, or you may realize that this new person was having a bad day. Or got a bad hair cut. Or they just got out of the gym. There are likely reasons why something is the way it is and why a person is they way he/she is.
But at the end of the day, everybody deserves a chance. Everybody. Even those that make crappy first impressions. And you, yes YOU deserve this too.