I am sure you have all heard the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. People tend to put a lot of weight in a first impression. It can make or break you in a job interview. I find it tends to be true when we meet a person in real life also. What we believe of a person during our initial interactions often turns out to be completely different when we get to know them. Still, we tend to put a lot of stock in our first impressions.
First impressions are often quite interesting when our beginning interactions are over the phone or email. Do you find yourself forming an impression of the other party simply based on the sound of their voice or the tone of the writing? Recently I had the opportunity to meet in person several people that I have only worked with over the phone or email in the past. Needless to say I had a vision of what these people would look like and be like based on my interactions with them. Across the board I was surprised by what they looked like in person. Really, I shouldn’t have been, but I was.
I went to meet these people expecting bald, young, or heavyset based on something that was said, how it was said, or the sound of their voice. In each situation the person who sat across from me was not what I pictured in my mind. I had to wonder what they were expecting of me and did I live up to that expectation? I suspect I didn’t.
I have been thinking about the pictures in my mind and why they were formed. I wonder if my own biases cause me to put people in boxes. Thankfully, my boxes don’t confine the people I come in contact with. Often I don’t even tell folks what my initial thoughts were because they sound ridiculous when voiced aloud. I try not to let that first thought color my view of the person I actually meet. If I allowed my biases to put me in a box and I may miss out on an amazing friendship.
Later as I was talking to my boss about my mind pictures of the colleagues I met I had to laugh at myself. What does bald sound like?