Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Can't Even, First Impressions

I Can't Even...
by Sara "Zarine" Jessop 
… First Impressions

            You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Once you've done something once you can never do it again and claim it was the first time. That's just the way time works. Many things that we do aren't effected by the fact that it's the first, second, or hundredth time we've done it. If you completely bungle it one of those times, you can often simply do better next time. Introducing yourself to people just doesn't work that way.

No, you're an over used Meme!

            It takes approximately three seconds for someone to evaluate you and form an opinion of your person when they first make your acquaintance. “But Zarine, that can't be right...” But it is. It sounds crazy, does it not? Yet we all form these quick conclusions about people and places all of the time and it's almost impossible to stop our minds from doing it. Once we have made these immediate judgments it's fabulously difficult to change them. It's almost like the quicker the assessment of someone or something is made the more deeply rooted in our minds it becomes. I'm sure someone more sciencey can explain the actual psychology involved. 

            While I may not be in the appropriate medical field to understand exactly how our minds work, I can tell you what all of this means: First impressions are extraordinarily important. Where is this train of thought coming from, you wonder? Well, dear reader, if you'll remember that just last week we had a few new plebs introduce themselves to the Realms at large and let's just agree that we were all a little uneasy about their intentions towards our very large but relatively tight knit community. Since I tend to over think just about everything you could possibly imagine, I analyzed this entire interaction to death. You see, just because it was the written word doesn't mean that we didn't form an impression. On the contrary, we likely form an even stronger yet less accurate impression.
One Sean Bean Meme Deserves Another

            Since I have hopefully opened your eyes to the importance of the first impression, allow me to impart upon you the wisdom of how to make your first impressions in the future be excellent ones. There are many ways to rendezvous with someone for the first time. It could be in person, written correspondence, or magical long range verbal communication. You could not even realize you are being observed and make an unknown impression on someone. Always be on your toes and follow these pointers from someone who makes a lot of first impressions.

            Be on time: you don't want people to think that you are irresponsible and/or disrespectful of others time. Make sure that you are at least fifteen minutes early the first time you will be meeting someone. Unless of course it is the type of fancy party where being fashionably late is celebrated, then being early would be quite awkward.

            Be confident: first encounters are always a bit stressful for everyone involved. Being relaxed and confident can help put everyone at ease and you will all get a better impression of each others natural selves.

            Be yourself: While you want to put your best foot forward, make sure it is indeed your own foot. Pretending to be someone you are not may make a good impression, but what happens when you correspond with that person again? Even if their opinion of you is bad, its better to be a bad opinion about the real you, than a good opinion about a you that does not even exist. Eventually they will find out that you were presenting a false persona and then their view of you is going to take quite the nosedive. They will never be able to fully trust you, and trust is the foundation of even the most basic of affiliations.

            Look your best: When meeting in person the absolute first thing someone is going to notice is your outward appearance. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Don't over or under dress, though always err on the side of over dressing if you are unsure as it's a far more forgivable offense. Be well groomed. If you look good, that usually translates to feeling good, which adds to your confidence and ability to be yourself.

            Use proper grammar (and spelling if applicable): This is especially important for the written word. If you say something slightly incorrectly people are a bit more forgiving as it's instant and non retractable. If your written correspondence is poor however, then they will think that you couldn't even take the time to proof read it. That then leads to the conclusion that they were not worth your time and effort. It will also lend credence to the conviction that you are uneducated and of lesser intelligence.

            More on confidence: A firm handshake and eye contact are very important.  It will tell them that you are not a doormat or a victim and anyone who might be looking for such will be quickly be disabused of that notion. And ladies, don't worry, there is nothing wrong with being a strong, confident individual with a dominant personality. (note: dominant personality isn't just fancy talk for being a bitch). Gentlemen, it's alright to shake a woman's hand rather than slobber all over it. Just use the appropriate interaction for the situation. If it's a business or military meeting, go with a handshake. If it's a social gathering, go with the hand kissing. If you're unsure, allow the lady to present her hand first and go from there.

            Be respectful. As much as I am fond of the phrase “respect is not given, it is earned”, everyone is deserving of basic respect and decency until they prove otherwise to you. So, be polite and pleasant.

            People are often fond of criticizing first impressions, that we shouldn't form an opinion on someone based off of such limited information. But it may not even be a bad thing. The fact that we can walk into a room which we have never been in before, quickly catalog everything in it, and then make a quick decision on our comfort and safety level is quite incredible. Or meet a person and every sense you possess processes everything you could possibly know about them and you decide how to proceed within a matter of seconds. It's an example of just how unbelievable our minds are. And just like our “fight or flight” response, it is the most intellectually agile among us who can do it most quickly an accurately.

            Perhaps we are not being shallow and dismissive. Perhaps we are actually using our minds the way that nature intended to analyze situations and recognize both dangers and securities. Perhaps we should stop questioning the involuntary functions of our minds, as they likely evolved that way for a reason.

            See you next Tuesday.

Zarine is the proprietor and Madam at Alchimia Lupanar, a magic marshal approved practitioner of medicine, an award winning author, and has 36 years of experience in giving her unsolicited opinion.

Unrelated to the article, but amusing to the editor.

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