How do first impressions strike us?
Growing up one usually learns that first impressions are lasting impressions. This old cliché certainly makes sense when you think about it. People often make assumptions about their personal interactions with others based on these often fleeting encounters. In general, people can make the mistake of sizing someone up based on their own personal values and beliefs. Individuals tend to have preconceived notions about people that can be situational, often making snap judgments based solely on visual perceptions. It is human nature to believe what you see and then set personal expectations that one’s behavior will support the first impression.
I attended a seminar once that has stuck with me for more many years. While waiting in my seat for the lecture to start this man was walking around trying to strike up conversations with seminar attendees. My first impression of him was he was in the wrong place based solely on what I could see. His clothes were inappropriate for this event; he appeared un-kept, and seemed to make people uncomfortable as I watched ladies clinch their handbag as if they were afraid he would grab it and run. This would be our first impression of the day’s speaker. As he took the stage he spoke about first impressions and stereotypical beliefs, while during the course of the lecture he began to change his appearance. By the end of the seminar he was well groomed, dressed in a three piece suit and no longer instilled fear in the guests of the conference. Ironically, most if not all of the people in the room made the same assumptions that I did; black man, dressed like a rapper, getting to close to people had to mean trouble. I felt ashamed of falling prey to cynicism, judging this man solely by his appearance. The speaker’s character and personality traits did not change; he was still the same successful and confident man. This lesson changed me, and I learned the power of first impressions, and that we seldom get a second opportunity to change the perception of another person.
How did you picture John after reading the first scenario, and then the second?
In the first scenario, John seems energetic, confident, and outgoing. These would be consistent of personality traits for an extrovert. Extroverts seem quite comfortable in large groups and social settings. They tend to come across as confident, friendly, talkative, and open. According to Pawlik-Kienlen (2007), “Extroverts are interested in what's happening outside themselves: their surroundings, people, noises. Extroverts don't tend to enjoy spending time alone, and they get their energy from other people.” (Energy Source of Extroverts, para. 7).
In the second scenario, John seemed to feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, and shy. These would be...