Why is it that so many friendships start like this: “I thought you were a b*tch.”? Because our first impression can be wrong — dead wrong. You can miss out on meeting interesting people or forging friendships and relationships just because you assume your first impression is always right.
Obviously it’s not too smart to go into a job interview with a big hangover and “I-was-slamming-tequila-all-night-last-night” written all over your face. We all know that (hopefully). And if someone gives you an odd feeling when you meet them for the first time, you shouldn’t completely ignore your intuition. (Because let’s be honest, there are some people that you have to stay far away from.)
So yes, the first impression does count.
But sometimes when we hastily judge people, we forget that mistakes are possible. Your first impression can be wrong, despite having highly developed people skills.
During my first year at the Journalism School, a girl with eyes like laser cutters entered my study group. I was scared she would slice my brain in two just by looking at me. But, as it turns out, I was so wrong. We became friends.
Some people thought that I was arrogant, probably because I walk with my chin up and shoulders back. But I am 5-feet 11.26-inches. Walking like a sad banana would kill my back.
When we first meet a person, we judge them in those first couple of seconds. What we need to realize is that our mind can play tricks with us. Hidden expectations, prejudices, prior experiences, or insecurities can determine the friends we’ll make and the people we’ll fall in love with.
If you are convinced that all men in yellow shirts are snakes or that someone who doesn’t travel a lot is close-minded, you’ll pay more attention to evidence that confirms your theory.
And if you later get information about a person that contradicts your theory, your brain categorizes it as an exception. “I have met a nice guy in a yellow shirt, but he is an exception.”
The person can even behave the way you expect, because your expectations leak out through your facial expressions and body language. When you expect it will be hard for you to connect with a person, because of whatever reason, you probably will have a hard time doing so.
It also works the other way around. If you’ve heard positive things about someone, you might have already decided you are going to like this person. You’ll behave in a more positive way and, in turn, this person behaves in a more positive way towards you.
First impressions are fundamental in our relationships, but it is good to question yourself sometimes. Yes, maybe you’ll be disappointed or get hurt, but maybe not. You might be surprised in a positive way when you give people a second chance to make a first impression.