About a month ago I moved to a small seaside town in New Zealand where I’m settling in nicely. One of the things I love about moving somewhere new is all the interesting people I meet. Over the years I’ve moved many times and lived in a number of countries. I’ve learned that I click immediately with some people, but find it harder to connect with others.
I’ve been asking myself why this happens and I’ve had a bit of a revelation. I believe that the way in which I judge someone in those first few minutes of meeting them is a key reason. Let me explain a bit further…..
As humans, we’re hard-wired to make instant instinctive assessments of new situations or people to determine whether we are safe or under threat. We base our initial assessment on criteria such as appearance, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class and life experiences. We decide in those first few moments at a deep gut level whether the other person is similar, which our primitive minds interpret as safe, or different which we interpret as a threat.
But while your initial reactions can protect you from danger, they don’t always serve you well in the longer term.
Categorizing someone as either similar or different based on a narrow set of criteria will prevent you from getting to know who that person really is. Think about yourself for a moment and you’ll agree that you are much more than the criteria I’ve listed above. And so are other people.
I’ve learned over time that my initial judgement of others can be very wrong. I have some very good friends who I didn’t initially warm to for one reason or another, while on the flip-side there have been friendships and relationships based on the similarities that started well but foundered because the differences became a major stumbling block.
So how can you learn to see past your initial reactions particularly when they judge a person as different?
Remember you are unique which makes you different from everyone else. We are all similar to and different from everyone else. Where you focus your attention when you meet someone new will make a significant difference to the way you interact with them in the future. Explore and enjoy the differences as well as the similarities.
Image by Julien Haler