Saturday, September 29, 2007

First Impression

" First impressions is the last impression."

"You do not get a second chance to make first impression."

These sayings pack a lot of insight. We can get more out of these sayings if we think about how it applies to judge others and be judged by others.

There are only so many 'smart' people who know first impression can be extremely deceiving. They are the only ones who can get even an average worker produce superior results. Most of us belong to the category of 'dumb' people who base some of the most important judgments based on first impression. Read somewhere that most of us judge people within 3 seconds of the first impression they make on us. How wrong such decisions can be?

Since world is full of people who are going to judge us by first impression, we should make every attempt to make a good first impression. Different people prefer different first impressions. It depends on their own background and how their life has been up to that point. As long as we try to make a good first impression which is line with commonly accepted social norms, we are doing our best. If there is some weirdo, who bases his premature judgment based on some weird norms, hell with him or her.

Now, we have to look at the other aspect. That is how we judge people. If we want to move towards that small population of people who do not judge entirely based on first impression, we must not attach way too much importance to the first impression. This especially true when we are trying to judge people with far less experience, education and exposure.  Imagine a situation when a rank and file employee is meeting a CEO. Don't expect the employee to be little awkward due the situation he or she is in? In such cases, if the CEO is dumb enough to judge the person based on first impression, I worry about the company having such a CEO.

We must suspend our judgment of people who matter for as long as possible. One of the smartest thing we can do about any judgment is to defer it as long as possible. This does not mean we should procrastinate the judgment or decision. What is recommended is that we should set a deadline for a judgment. Till that time comes, we should not even think about the actual decision or judgment to be made. What we should during that time is to doing best due diligence possible. Collect data, analyze data and use  final few moments to make the decision.

People naturally make better first impressions as they get varied experiences in life. A person who goes to a new country for the first time is going to be center of fun and ridicule occasionally till he or she learns about the customs and rules of the new country. So is the new employee of a company. So, if we believe that people are who really matter and people who work with us or work for us are the ones who really determine our success, we should defer our judgment of people for a long time and give them every benefit of doubt as long as circumstances permit.

Deferring immediate judgment is a skill we can all learn. We just need to practice and practice for a long time each time learning from the mistakes of our premature judgment.

As a person who is going to be judged by many people during the course of our life, all we have to do is to try our best to make the best first impression possible and hope that majority of the people who judge us belong that small category of smart people and leave rest of the God. If we are judged wrongly based on some criteria for 'correct' first impression, let's not make the same mistake of judging other person's judgment as misjudgment. Learn from other person's mistake and vow not make similar misjudgment if we are faced with similar situation in the future.


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