3 Strategies for Avoiding First Impression Judgments

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    When it comes to first impressions, we use human nature as an excuse to judge people. And let’s face it, it’s too easy not to. Whether that’s the only time we’ll ever meet them, or we run into that person a second or third time, we already have our preconceived notions about who we think they are; and now we’re set into our assumptions. We don’t like them because they make bad jokes. Their voices are too high. Their outfits don’t match and they’ve never even heard of Harry Styles. But at one point or another we must recognize that there’s much more to them than we’re giving them credit for, and certainly much more than they’ve shown us. And when we come to this realization, it’s often too late to take it back, even if it’s only in our heads. So how exactly can we stop this? How can we control ourselves from judging too harshly on first impressions?

    Consider Why You’re Judging Them

    While it may be instinctive to analyze everything that comes out of someone’s mouth, consider why you’re doing this. Did they say something offensive? Incorrect? Did it insult you? Most of the time when we judge others, it’s because they differ from us. In our eyes, we’re the standard. We gather what we can about their appearance and a few facts they’ve told us, and make our own assumptions even when they’re telling us a different story. Still, this doesn’t make it okay just because someone else may stray from our own likes and dislikes. Instead of immediately jumping to conclusions and swearing them off as your new BFF, think about possible reasons why you’re judging them in the first place. Try removing the assumptions and keep an open mind to make a clear, objective judgment. Here are some examples for why you may be judging too soon.

    Possible Reasons

    Perhaps this person has achieved a huge accomplishment that you’ve always wanted to do. For some reason, you haven’t gotten to it, and hearing about how incredible the experience was for them makes you jealous. Instead of congratulating them for his/her achievement and using them as inspiration to finally get your own dream started, you argue to yourself that they’re obnoxious for showing off. However, this could be a result of a personal insecurity you’re pushing onto others.

    Maybe someone comes from a completely different background from you. Whether they were homeschooled, raised by a single parent, or struggled financially, they express to you how unique growing up was for them. Instead of acknowledging these hardships, you judge them for sharing something overly personal, and label them as emotional or attention-seeking. Meanwhile, this could be a sign of your guilt or empathy translated into the wrong direction.

    We all tend to hold different standards for what we look for in others. However, this doesn’t have to be the end all be all to making a friend or simply having a mature conversation. More often than not, we judge too harshly because someone offers something new to bring to the table. Whatever it may be, take a step back to recognize why you’re judging them, and try relating to them instead.

    Remember That No One Is Perfect

    Yes! The golden rule of what makes us all human: no one is perfect. Sometimes, we get a little caught up with ourselves and our own lives that we tend to think we are. As a result, we again blame others for not reaching our standards. However, it’s crucial when meeting others to remember that no one, especially ourselves, is perfect. We all have flaws and things that we’re proud of, and that’s what makes us all unique.

    Someone may be faster than us, or stronger than us, or maybe better at math. Regardless, we as individuals all have specific talents that make us special. It is up to us not only to find out our own talent and express it, but to find out the talents of others and support them for who they are as well. It’d be boring if we were all the same, which is precisely why we need to celebrate our differences, our quirks, and what makes us tick.

    Put Yourself in Their Shoes

    When you’ve tried everything to keep from judging a first impression, and you think you’ve tried your hardest, put yourself in their shoes. Think about what it’s like to be them, and how difficult it can be to make a good impression when there’s already adversaries on the receiving end. After all, we’ve all been there– hoping and praying that we make a good impression on someone. It can be stressful and nerve wracking because of how much we want someone to like us. Are we coming off too strong? Are we making them laugh? What do they think about the way we dress? As we all know, these fears can easily creep into the mind of someone looking to make a good first impression, and that’s why it’s essential to remember how it feels when you’re the one on the other side. 

    Give them the benefit of the doubt. Treat them as you would want someone new to treat you: have an open mind, make them feel comfortable, and make them feel heard. It can be easy to judge someone on what they’re telling you, but it should be even easier to let them speak for themselves without you making assumptions. Remember that you don’t have all the information, and they’re giving you just a small glimpse of their life. Therefore, it’s important to take it easy on them and perceive them only according to what they’re telling you. Remember how much you want others to give YOU the benefit of the doubt and make the effort to understand your life. That will make it much easier in understanding others.

    Stopping The Assumptions For Good

    It’s never too late to change old habits, and now is the perfect time to start. Be the kind of person you want to have on your side when you’re making the first impression. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to fit in and come off likeable to others; so don’t make this more difficult for someone else! Practicing humility and empathy in the form of these steps will help you rid your case of judgment once and for all.

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