Most of us encounter lots of other people all the time in our everyday life. We pass them in the street. We sit in the same cinema, or work in the same building. And some among them, we actually start to acknowledge and get to know. We begin to recognise their faces, the shapes of their bodies and how they move. We start to make assumptions about them, usually based on our very first encounter with them.
In fact most of us make up our minds in the first few seconds of the encounter. Based on the clothes they are wearing on that particular day and the expression of their face, we decide. Is this someone I am likely to trust and want to know better? And we act on what we think are the answers to those questions, based on our assumptions.
What we are doing, of course, is taking a few stray facts and fitting them into our own patterns of belief. We base those beliefs;
on what we were told by our parents and others when we are young,
on what we have read or been taught formally
on what we have experienced (increasingly on tv, in the media or on-line).
Interesting this isn't it? This is what we do. So, what do you think other people do when they encounter us?
Well of course, they to make assumptions too. They set us up against their personal frame of reference!
Now, you and I both know that the frame of reference we use can be quite risky.
Most of us have picked all kind of prejudices and bits of wrong information along the way. For example, women of my mother's generation had the most awful suspicions of other women in red hats. I won't go into the detail but it wasn't very nice.
Most of the time we apply our frame of reference without conscious thought or question.
You can change. You can learn to hold back on making those kind of immediate judgements, if you wish. And I believe that is a very wise thing to do. Otherwise what interesting opportunities you may miss in life. What good people you may exclude.
It is wise as well, though, to keep in mind that people are making those kind of assumptions about us.. And we need to do our best to make sure that that first, abiding, impression is one we actually choose to make.
Wendy Smith is a Life Coach with Career and Business Coaching
skills. She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work while maintaining a good work/life balance.