First meetings can be deceiving. We cannot really judge a person on the basis of a single meeting, unless we are psychic. Yet we mostly go by first impressions. But beware, because our quick judgements may impact our lives forever.
As a kid we were always told, “The first impression is the last impression”. But as I grew older, I experienced the opposite in many cases, in my personal as well as professional lives. Classmates who I abhorred in the initial days of college, turned out to be true and lasting friends. Women who sounded like progressive liberal women over the first cup of coffee, turned out to be regressive and bitchy. Candidates who seemed smart and hardworking in the interviews, turned out to be over-smart and sluggish. A manager who sounded like a cool visionary turned out to be myopic with a twisted mind. There are even instances where people seemed impressive till they opened their mouth!
It is only after a considerable number of interactions that we can truly understand the nature of people. Sometimes it take days, sometimes months and sometimes even years to actually understand people.
I recently read an article “How many seconds to a first impression?” An excerpt from it says:
“Like it or not, judgements based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated. Psychologists have long known that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life. People with “mature” faces receive more severe judicial outcomes than “baby-faced” people. And having a face that looks competent (as opposed to trustworthy or likeable) may matter a lot in whether a person gets elected to public office.”
It is a well established fact that we are easily deceived by looks. Good first impressions might work briefly in business relationships, where you don’t really have to spend much time together and the only motive is to get the work done. But when it comes to personal relationships, be it familial or friendship, deceiving first impressions may affect life-long relations. When people start showing their true colours, it might already be too late, and you might get stuck with them for the rest of your lives. It may be even possible to distance yourself from such people who are outside family. But when such people are in close family or social circle, your lives continue to remain uncomfortably entwined.
So, while it is natural to be deceived by first impressions, basically due to “primacy effect”, it is not wise to be influenced so easily. We should learn and practice to evaluate people over time, and from varying aspects. Don’t be quick to judge people, neither negatively nor positively. Take your time, take it slow.