First Impressions are Tricky

What happened is this: I went to a meeting. Many of the people there didn’t know all of the other people there. Introductions were made and there was much shaking of hands, both at the beginning and close of the event.

One woman nearly tore my arm off.

As the tiny bones in my hand turned to dust, while the tendons in my shoulder area ripped and rearranged themselves, I found myself thinking of crocodiles. That quick impression of being pulled underwater by a hungry crocodile is how I’ll always remember Ms. Crocodile arm. It’s probably not the avatar she intended to leave imprinted on my or anyone’s brain.

It’s a quandary, isn’t it, that the things about ourselves that form first impressions are not things we can analyze and adjust?  We can’t feel our own grip on another hand or experience the force of our personality. We can’t even rely on the feedback of a trusted friend or loved one because they already know too much about us to be a reliable sounding board.

Should we even try? For starters, first impressions are tainted by the predelections of the audience. I may find a tipsy, barefoot Dennis Quaid quite charming while you find him arrogant and unsanitary. And how much of a first impression is chemical? Did you ever have an instant attraction or repulsion that seemed more instinctive than logical? You can be dressed the right way, have the proper strength of grip, just the right amount of eye contact, and still repulse a person through no fault of your own. As my grandmother used to say, “You can’t please everyone”. Ain’t that the truth? Isn’t it more important to understand what you think of a new acquaintance? After all, you have to be with yourself 100% of the time but you can mostly avoid people you don’t like.

My husband, BigB, has a talent for first impressions. Most people like him. Animals love him. Kids love him.  I’ve been on the receiving end of his first impression. What I remember is the warm smile, the curiosity in his eyes, his intellect. He has a way of focusing on the person he’s talking to. It’s unselfconscious. He’s thinking more about who you are and whether he likes you. “Who’s this?”, he asks himself. “What’s their deal?” And then he tries to find out. He’s the one collecting the first impressions.

I think one of the secrets to both happiness and success might be collecting first impressions rather than making them.

Chicken out

  7 comments for “First Impressions are Tricky

  1. Doug in Oakland
    September 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    My friend Jack used to make a point of being just as obnoxious when meeting people as he normally was so as to give them a chance to decide whether they actually liked him or wanted anything to do with the actual person he was and not the false impression they cultivated for their own reasons that he might later on find himself having to try to live up to.
    The results were sort of mixed, and I don’t know whether either of us would recommend it as an approach to meeting people.


    • September 26, 2018 at 1:27 am

      Ha. I get that. It’s funny, though, how refreshing it is to meet a person who is just totally themselves all the time. As much as I don’t like him I do admire the president a tiny bit for being 100% himself all the Time. At least I assume he is. I can’t imagine anyone choosing that persona…just imagine if that’s the best foot forward


  2. September 25, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I’ve been around too long. I find my reputation precedes me, from what I’ve written and what I’ve done. When I meet someone new, I tend to be low key, and wait for them to do justice to themselves. If we’re reasonable on the same theme, I can deliver a full frontal me, and we can get down to business.


    • September 26, 2018 at 1:29 am

      I get that sense about you. It’s a good thing. Everyone knows where they stand, right?


  3. jenny_o
    September 26, 2018 at 12:45 am

    And I think you are absolutely right.

    I want to roll my eyes at some people and their airs. lol


    • September 26, 2018 at 1:34 am

      We have a neighbor-he’s nice-he takes care of the side lawn that fronts the street but his fenced in back yard is a jungle. I can relate to that. He probably resents the pressure to keep up the lawn but he does it. Because appearances, right? But in the backyard, oh the backyard, that’s where he can be himself. I roll my eyes about 50 times a day on average. And then feel bad about it. But I still do it.


  4. September 27, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    As I’ve gotten older I have realized that a firm handshake can be painful for some. I’ve softened my grip considerably.

    I like the idea of collecting first impressions.


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