In every first encounter with another person, we make judgments about them almost immediately based on a few simple factors. In the first few seconds upon meeting a new acquaintance we will take in and subconsciously process their age, choice in style of clothes, hair, their posture and the way that they carry themselves. In that short time we will form subconscious opinions about them based on our own personal prejudices and bias. After the first initial visual judgment we generally move into the physical greeting.
In western culture we will shake the hand of a person we have just initially met and this simple act will be the next test for our minds to run on this person. We will judge the character of their grip, whether it is a firm grip or a soft one, or perhaps too firm! Whether this handshake is pleasant or not will build upon the information gathered when the individuals first approached one another. The initial handshake can very well be the most important aspect of the introduction as “prospective employers said they're more likely to overlook visible body piercings and tattoos than an ineffective handshake” (Zupek, 2007).
The final stage of introduction is conversation. The exchange is generally mechanical, and will follow some loose rules. We exchange names and affiliations, and will then move on to interests or areas of business. This stage doesn’t change much in each social interaction and is an attempt to find common ground. As each individual finds similarities or subjects to which they can relate, they will become more comfortable with each other. The first impression has at this point been formed and we now carry that general idea of that person in our heads as we remember them, or meet them again.
If the first impression was a positive one, the next time we meet that individual we will be excited to talk to them again, and will have an expectation of another pleasant conversation. However, if the first impression was not a pleasant one we will likely experience some apprehension or fear at the prospect of encountering that person again. As the relationship continues it is possible to change your opinion of the person, but that first impression is nearly indelible, and it would take some extreme effort to alter.
In the article “First Impressions” (Clark, 2010) we are first presented with a story entitled “John is an Extrovert” (Clark, 2010). This title is the first piece of the picture that I will build for John, and it immediately begins the process that my mind goes through to categorize John. When he is labeled an “extrovert” (Clark, 2010) I immediately assume that he is a happy, outgoing individual and he will be pleasant to talk to and interact with. Now I have some expectations for John, and when he “entered the store which was full of people” (Clark, 2010) there is no reason for me to expect him to be apprehensive. This assumption is validated when I read “John talked with an acquaintance while...