The False Value of First Impressions

The more new people I meet, the less I believe in the validity of the first impression.

First impressions can be perfectly orchestrated and controlled. Practiced and perfected based on social nicety and experience.

What a flawed science a first impression really is.

They are the shallowest way to know a person and the most easily falsified interaction. Presented with the active intention of manipulating your perception. Here’s all my good, polite parts on full display. See how nice I am? Can’t you tell how confident I am by that firm grip of a handshake I just gave you?

That sounds negative, but it’s really not. There’s nothing actually wrong with wanting to make a great first impression. In fact, it’s a necessary and useful skill.

But…

Let’s not confuse these initial encounters with the reality of the person that exists under that essential social mask.

That person will not be met in those first interactions.

No matter how open and genuine that person seems to be (and may be if/when you really get to know them), you are only seeing the icing on the cake.

And, sometimes, the icing is the best part.

Now, think of it this way: Due to the consistent onslaught of “new people” we can meet, we are constantly coming into contact with well-developed first impressions…and spending less and less time slowly revealing the layers of the people within.

Too many humans. Too much data. Not enough time. Not enough energy.

It’s the long term interaction that will show you the character of the person. The humor. The approach to life. The flaws. The strengths. The good. The bad. The ugly.

The truth.

None of that is guaranteed in that first impression, no matter how perceptive you may think you are.

One more time, just in case you didn’t let that marinate:

No matter how convinced you are of who that person is based on that first encounter…

You. Do. Not. Know.

You just plain don’t have enough viable information.

What are first impressions good for? First impressions are best for immediate chemistry detection. You meet some people and they just feel…good. You feel generally comfortable. Maybe even a little intrigued.

Other people repel you from the jump. Something’s not right there, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

To ignore these feelings is folly. Take careful note of them.

That’s your intuition speaking to you. No logic, just pure animalistic senses.

But, as far as everything else goes?

You need time. Without it, you’re making decisions on assumptions, projections, hopes, and dreams.

That time isn’t “commitment”. It’s just being intentional about doing a little human exploration. Keeping the mind open and aware to the truths of someone rather than settling for the projected and half-baked identity that seems ideal and easier.

“But, he was so nice.”

Was he really?

“But, she was so interested in me that first night we met.”

Was she, though?

How can you tell? You met the first impression.

They’re not meant to be the backbone of your interaction with someone. Don’t let them carry more weight than they can truly hold.

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