Wednesday, 20 January 2016

First impressions

I got to thinking about what I look for in someone I've just met. How do I sum them up? What are the important things to know? These are the questions I tend to ask:

1) Are they my sort of person? Do they share my views, my general outlook, my hang-ups, my tastes?
2) Are they trustworthy? Are they what they seem to be? Or are they two-faced and slippery?
3) Are they intelligent? Do they look at things critically, shrewdly? Or do they just take things at face value?
4) Do they respect me? Do they accept me for what I am? Do they take me seriously? Or do they look down on me?
5) Are they interesting? Do they have unusual views and quirks? Are they surprising and unpredictable?
6) Are they genuine? Do they tell it like it is, or do they pretend to be something they're not?

Of course this may be the only time I meet them and I may never see them again. But I still ask all these questions, just to get a grip on them, to see below the surface. It's an entrenched habit.

If it's someone I might work with, then I'll ask other questions. Are they reliable? Will they do what they say they'll do? Are they supportive? Will they help me or attack me behind my back? That sort of thing.

It seems unusual to assess others in such detail. A lot of people simply go by instinct. Either they feel comfortable with someone or they don't. Either they like the look of someone or they've got nasty eyes. Maybe that works, maybe it doesn't.

Sometimes that's all you've got time for. Sometimes you just know in a split second that someone's an arsehole. Sometimes all you notice is how drop-dead gorgeous they are. Sometimes all you want to know is where the booze is hiding. Life's funny like that.

35 comments:

Z said...

I tend to assume people are basically likeable and take them at face value until I suspect otherwise. Of course, sometimes I'm really drawn to someone or instinctively dislike them, but I start with a general impression rather than any sort of analysis. I've no idea what sort of first impression I give, mind you.

Nick said...

Z: I guess a lot of people go for the "general impression". Usually they're right, but I can't help thinking of those gullible souls who're taken in by some plausible fraudster who relieves them of their life savings.

As for the first impression of yourself, I would say calm, friendly, trustworthy, loyal. Certainly nothing negative!

John Gray said...

If they look like a young russell crowe
I like em

Bijoux said...

When I meet someone, I tend to ask a lot of questions outright. People love to talk about themselves! You can usually get a feel for someone based on that.....do they ask questions in return, or are they only interested in themselves? Do they avoid your questions? Do their answers display a sense of humor, or are they all business? Things like that.

tammy j said...

LOLOL.
your last paragraph and john's comment brought a laugh.
I used to be a puppy.
yup.
ursula has me pegged probably. just in the old dna.

i'm actually quite shy. but moving constantly as a child I learned to 'be friendly first' or you'd never have any friends. actually they weren't friends anyway. there was never enough time for real friendship. it's a superficial way to live and know people.
you DON'T. so I was always into giving them the benefit of the doubt.

now I enjoy my own nature. which is happy solitude. I rarely meet a lot of new people. and i'm more the instinctual or chemistry type I think. I go by that. and most people I do meet... strangers... are ok.
fun post! and p.s. I would NEVER let anyone take my life savings. the mind boggles at some of the stories you hear in the news about that.

Helen Devries said...

People talk to me on buses...but haven't yet tried to relieve me of my life's savings.

I used to go to a small group...but the bitchiness,the attempts at put downs bored me: listening to the perpetrators told me about them and their nature without the need to ask questions.
I told the chief witch that she was wasting her time on me...I've had put downs from experts...and I'm still up and running.

Nick said...

John: Well, that's a very straightforward test!

Bijoux: Me too. I want to know exactly what makes them tick. Their answers are usually pretty revealing about what sort of person they are. And yes, do they ask me about myself in return?

Ursula said...

Sorry, Nick, in your usual haste trying to nail jelly to the wall, you put the cart before the horse.

How can anyone answer all your questions and come to (judgmental - your word not mine) conclusions about someone on FIRST IMPRESSION? A first impression is a first impression. And a first impression can be oh so wrong. Trust me, Nick, and take my hand whilst I lead you through the dense forrest of human interaction: If I had gone by "first" impressions I wouldn't have married either of my two husbands. If I had gone by "first" impressions my bestest friend of decades would have been put into the pigeon hole of "arrogant bastard" where he belonged. You have to look behind facades, Nick. And that will and can't ever happen on "first impression". Give people, and YOURSELF, a chance. Don't jump into the frying pan before you have turned on the fuel.

U

PS Dear sweet Tammy, the "puppy" among us, my one remark clearly left a mark. I like your enthusiasm, your exuberance. Don't take what someone like me says the wrong way. Listen to the subtext. By way of *scant" comfort: When I really do not think someone "worthy" of my attention I usually don't say a word. How devastating is that? Hug, U

Nick said...

Tammy: Happy solitude seems to suit you very well. But it's a shame your childhood meanderings made it hard to make real friends. I didn't make any close friends as a child either, but for different reasons.

Helen: I've been in a few groups of one kind or another, and it's amazing how often people turn out to be bitchy and competitive. Nowadays I tend to keep to myself and life is a lot more restful!

Keith Smith said...

The topics you pick seem to apply to me sometimes. Last October I was introduced to a very pretty lady by a mutual friend. After meeting up with her a couple of times she seemed absolutely genuine, so when she told me that she was out of work and finding it hard to make ends meet I loaned her £20 and she promised to pay me back as soon as the next allowance was paid into her bank. Despite repeated requests I did not get my money. In the end she gave me her tablet computer in lieu. Now I own a Samsung tablet worth about £100 (according to eBay) and I haven't a clue how to operate it!

I know, I'm a silly old git, but I did genuinely want to help her, as I would for anyone less fortunate than myself.

Ursula said...

Sorry, Keith, and my apology to you Nick to darken your doorstep once more, but then blogs are a public forum: You, Keith, didn't "genuinely want to help her". If you had you would have left it, not asked for the money, tactfully waited till she was able to return it and most certainly not have accepted her much more valuable Samsung tablet. And, no doubt, you shamed her in the process. "20.00"? My goodness. People do come that cheap to you, do they?

U

Nick said...

Keith: It's amazing how genuine some people can appear, even if they're the biggest con artists on the planet. I've met a few myself. But that was a generous exchange to give you the tablet. I'm sure someone could show you how to use it.

Dave Martin said...

Tart ;-)

Dave Martin said...

I would have thought that it would take rather longer than a brief meeting to assess a lot of the qualities you list, but it's certainly easy to pick out the arseholes pretty quick.

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

I guess we all form an initial opinion of people when we first meet them but, that could all change if there's a second meeting !!!!
People have to let me down. XXXX

CheerfulMonk said...

I've given up lending things. A number of times when I asked more than once for the book/tape set whatever to be returned, it never happened. One person even explained that the set wasn't that good, the cover had been damaged, wasn't aesthetically pleasing. I wasn't sure what that had to do with her not giving it back. :)

The items themselves weren't that important, but it was an interesting way to learn something about the person. Now I now just give things rather than lend them. I don't get as much feedback about people, but it saves a lot of time. :)

Wisewebwoman said...

I've got the face that everyone talks to, revealing everything. No idea why, maybe I do listen well.

But seriously, Nick, how can you ever know a person on one meeting or barrage them with questions? Friendship is a slow process. Acquaintances are a dime a dozen.

Often it's an offhand remark that seals the deal. A year ago a newcomer to our town said to me: "Every time I drive up the bay at night I think to myself: this is just like Italy!" and I was gobsmacked as it is exactly what I think driving up our beautiful bay and had never shared it with anyone. So yeah, friendship ensued.

XO
WWW

Keith Smith said...

Ursula - I am, always have been, someone I give my trust to other people and hope they do the same for me, whether or not they are a new or old friend. In the past, because of my attitude to other people, I have loaned out CD's, DVD's, books, and money to people I thought I could trust but the majority showed a complete disregard to my actions and never returned the items.

Once someone crosses me they are deleted from my life and forgotten. I have since found out that the woman in this case cons people on a regular basis, but nobody warned me until after the incident, so I felt justified in accepting her Tablet as recompense.

Furthermore, all the comments I make here are addressed to Nick unless you see your name at the beginning of any comment. Having read some of your comments to Nick in the past, and browsed your blog, I don't want any contact with you. You have a very apt title for your blog I must say. Apologies Nick, but I wanted to say that for a long time.

Nick said...

Dave: Tart??

I obviously haven't explained myself very well - not for the first time. I'm not saying I get all the answers to my questions. Of course that's highly unlikely in a short encounter. But those are the questions I ask myself about the other person.

Jacqueline: As you say, a second meeting may well turn all the initial impressions upside down!

Nick said...

Jean: She couldn't give it back because the cover had been damaged? That's absurd! I must say I've had the same experience of not getting things back so many times that now I'm very reluctant to lend anything.

Nick said...

www: As I said to Dave, I haven't explained myself properly. You're right of course, you can't learn much about someone in a single meeting. You can only get a very tentative idea of what they're really like. It takes time to truly get under someone's skin. Even long-standing spouses may still be in the dark! And I don't mean out-loud questions, just the questions I ask myself.

You're right about the chance remarks that can unexpectedly connect you to someone.

Nick said...

Keith: It seems to be very common that people hang on to things rather than return them. Why do they do that? Do they seriously think the owner doesn't want them any more? Or that they were some sort of gift? Interesting that she cons people regularly.

Re your last paragraph - thank you, well said. No apologies needed. You won't be surprised to know that several of my blogmates share your opinions.

Keith Smith said...

You are right Nick, when I asked some people "When are you going to return my DVD, book etc." The answer was something like "Return it? But you gave it to me!".

Tut!

Nick said...

Keith: Just as I thought!

A Heron's View said...

I look deeply into their eyes and listen carefully to whether their words are reflected in what I see.

Dave Martin said...

Nick: The 'tart' was supposed to be in response to John's Russell Crowe comment - the desktop and mobile versions of the blog seem to format differently for some reason.

Granted we often ask ourselves a great many questions about those we meet for the first time, although of course it does depend on the situation.
If it's a new work colleague I'll want to know plenty about them, but if I'm just passing the time of day with the the checkout assistant while paying for my groceries then such things don't even cross my mind.

Nick said...

Heron: That's as good a method as any.

Dave: That John Gray, he's incorrigible.

Naturally I wasn't referring to people I meet so briefly their character is beside the point. I pay no attention to the person next to me on the bus, unless they're carrying a mysterious bomb-like package.

Rummuser said...

I rarely judge on first meetings. I wait till a few take place before I decide on proceeding with the relationship or not. Your post has given me an idea for a post in my blog and I shall give a link to this post when I write that. Thanks for the inspiration.

Nick said...

Ramana: I agree that several meetings are needed to form anything like a reliable impression of someone. But I would still be asking the same questions, whether it's the first meeting or the tenth.

I look forward to your new post!

Liz Hinds said...

That is a lot of questions! I'm more of the instant instinct school. It's only occasionally that I take against someone but I do find it hard to conceal when I do.

I've just read some of the comments especially Bijou's. Most of the people I meet only want to talk about themselves but that's because of the people they are: vulnerable, needy. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish someone would ask me a question in return. Having said that I dislike talking about myself and will cut it short.

(My blog is of course an exception to the talking about myself dislike ...)

Nick said...

Liz: I'm the same. I like people to ask me questions but I don't like talking about myself, I'm much better at listening (my blog also excepted!). Though once I do start talking, I'm liable to over-share on a grand scale....

kylie said...

I just go for the first impression, I pretty much just rely on instinct in most of my dealings with people but if I am forced to articulate why I have an opinion I usually can find the reasons, it's just that I dont process it all consciously.

Anyone who is over sharing, super friendly or overly touchy has my alarms ringing. Often they turn out to be manipulators

Nick said...

Kylie: "Anyone who is over sharing, super friendly or overly touchy often turn out to be manipulators." Not my experience, I have to say. I know people who are all of those things and I don't find them any more manipulative than anyone else. Of course what's over-sharing to one person might be a routine conversation to someone else. If I tell you all about my enlarged prostate, is that over-sharing or just being open? (I feel a new blog post coming on....)

kylie said...

If you told me that on first meeting, it's an overshare. The important part of my comment is that manipulators do these things unusually early with a new acquaintance

Nick said...

Kylie: Agreed. It would be quite inappropriate. But where does the manipulation come in? In making the other person feel uncomfortable and therefore vulnerable?