When I started examining my spiritual side earlier this year, I took inventory of the characteristics I liked, as well as the ones that weren’t so flattering. For instance, I liked that I am a good friend to those I consider friends; but I recognized that I could be judgmental. Although I rarely vocalized my opinions, I wanted to eliminate negative judgments from my life.
But there are still first impressions. What are first impressions but an assessment of a person based on a single meeting? A judgment. I had heard it took 30 seconds for one to form an opinion of a person they met, but I recently found an article that suggested we form our opinions after 1/10 of a second. A tenth of a second? Talk about being an overachiever on the judgmental side!
First impressions test a judgmental girl’s self-control like a clearance sale tempts a shopaholic. I can’t help it – first impressions happen whether I want them to or not. I recently met someone whose first impression made me not want to give them an opportunity for a second one. Something about this person screamed, “Run!” Catching this quick judgment, I attempted to clean the slate and try harder to get to know this person.
At our second meeting, I decided this person was tolerable. Possibly someone I could enjoy a conversation with. I celebrated by defeat of the Critical Cathy in me and imagined judgment as an unidentifiable mass crumpled in a lifeless heap in front of me.
My premature celebration was cut short because the battle was not won. My third encounter made me retreat to my first impression faster than a nine year old boy flees from housework (or soap!) I don’t get a vibe that this person is mean-spirited. On the contrary, I think this person’s heart is in the right place. I think my first impression is warning of a personality conflict.
I appreciate the self-preserving nature of first impressions but, in this case, I’m not going to head for the hills. I can’t condemn someone because our personalities don’t mesh. With God’s help, I will continue to be friendly, all the while knowing we will never spend an afternoon getting to know each other over a cup of coffee.
That’s okay. I mean, I don’t really have an afternoon to spare anyway. Besides, I don’t drink coffee.
How about you? How accurate are your first impressions? Do your first impressions ever change over time? Have you ever been burned by ignoring your first impression of someone? Have you ever developed a friendship after a poor first impression?