I believed in the idea of a good first impression. I would always check for the non-verbal cues, the eye contact, the proximity, the tone of voice, the expressions, I tend to mentally check each box of what it takes to make a first good impression. If more than two boxes don’t relate, I usually know it won't work for me. And that’s when I thought about it.While it is important to make a good impression, is it alright to lighten up a bit and change the norms of “FIRST IMPRESSIONS?”Being a Psychologist, I often face such dilemmas. First Impressions, Non-verbal cues, Body Language etc., I have always wondered is it possible that maybe, at times, we tend to read a little too much between the lines that we forget to focus on what is really important.
I faced such a dilemma too but I was amazed once I let go of “between the lines” and focussed on what really mattered.
It was a warm weekend morning. I was at a café waiting for a client, it was a first meeting. I was exited to meet her but she had already cancelled on me before and that kind of left doubts in my mind, already corrupting the norm of a first meeting. Truth be told, in my heart, I wasn’t even sure if she would show up, I had already made a judgment about her. Maybe she was one those clients who don’t really want to sign up for services but want to know all about it. My mind deep down had already categorized her and put her in one of those weird client boxes. Well, since I had made such a strong opinion about her, I went prepared, I took my laptop and a book to work while she came or if she totally bailed.I sat there waiting, she was already 15 minutes late from the time of appointment. I left her a message to which she said she was just leaving from home.
I was furious! What kind of an unprofessional behaviour was this?! Is this how people have started treating each other now?!I almost made up my mind to leave, but the psychologist in me decided to wait till she actually showed up. It was an hour’s wait till she came. I was past furious, I was now annoyed!She very apologetically came towards me. I simply asked her reason for being so late, whether she had reservations about the meeting? To which she nodded– Yes! She said she was extremely nervous about the meeting and was contemplating cancelling it that very morning. She was afraid I would compel her to take the services.I became sympathetic toward her worry. It was a genuine concern where excuses are concerned. And almost immediately I felt extremely bad for being so annoyed with her. But I was glad the psychologist in me decided to take over. Nonetheless, the meeting went really well. She felt comfortable and apologized many times for being late. I came back home thinking about human nature.
Are we so easily programmed that we skip to conclusions and judgements without pausing and thinking ?! or are we as easily threatened by our self-image?!
Is it wrong to give someone the benefit of the doubt?! Or are we convincing our self-image from totally shattering?! First impressions are social. We want the opposite party or parties to like us and vice versa. There aren’t any set rules if you ask me. First impressions are as unpredictable as people are.
First impressions are tricky. No matter how well you prepare, they surprise you. Like I said they are unpredictable.It was a weekday. First impressions can be misunderstood. They can be taken for granted. First Impressions can be rehearsed and faked, they can also be impromptu and moody.
It all comes down to how you feel and respond. The way you analyse and predict.First impressions are impressions that can either be judged ruthlessly or ignored blindly.
To conclude, they are not threatening, they are just ways a human behaves socially.