Monday, June 11, 2007

Snap Judgements

We tend to make a decision about a person within 30 seconds of meeting them for the first time. If we are asked why we will simply say they were creepy or nice or fill in the blank. We do that without thinking until after the fact and then pick out details to support our decision.

We have ever since we were babies developed our ability to mind read. That is our ability to determine intent from a rapid scan of a person's face. As we get older we pick up on the incongruities between words spoken and facial expressions. We all know when our friends are lying to us when they say they are happy but look sad.

I remember a person that I used to see all the time when I was at a coffee shop. He was always frowning and never smiled at anyone including his kids that came in with him from time to time. We ended up one time helping out at a school fun day. One of his kids won an event and came over to his dad with the ribbon which he gave to his dad and his dad congratulated him without any smile. So after his dad went to do something I asked the boy if his dad ever smiled. He said no my dad was in an accident and damaged the nerves in his face and he can't smile. So much for my judgement.

It is an important ability we use to keep ourselves safe and we use it at a subconscious level. We just know. But sometimes our snap judgements are wrong. I know I still struggle with this one and if I have enough time I will give people the benefit of the doubt.

What has been your experience?

18 conversations:

Comedy + said...

Yep, I have done this all my life. Often I was right, but there were many times I was wrong. I have, and always will listen to my inner voice, but these snap judgements I try not to set in stone until I have more time to take a better sample. I loved your example.

Often we can have the snap judgement against someone and not heed it. Kind of a reverse type of thing. I've done this and it created me a lot of grief in my life.

It's so tough to be human and do the right things all the time. Very good mind tickler and a great reminder of what we shouldn't do. :)

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks Sandee for adding your insight

shaz said...

i can vout for that to

Princess Haiku said...

I often have intuitions about people that are right although I try to be open-minded. In general, it's good to give people a chance.

There is something about having a nonverbal "connect" with people though that gives you a good base to build a friendship on. An old man I know once said, "Your spirits need to meet." You can't force that to happen but you can be open to it.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Very well written. I was told a true story since young and it has always stayed with me - so much so that I'm constantly reminded not to make any snap judgement. The story went: one guy took his kids to a McDonald's. His playful kids ran around the entire place as if they were on the playground, while the man just sat there (ignoring the kids). All the other people at McDonald's gave this guy the "look". Finally one guy stood up, walked over, and said, "you should discipline your kids." The guy looked up and said, "I just lost my wife, and I still don't know how to tell my kids."

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Excellent post.

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you Shaz for joining the conversation

Peter Haslam said...

Princess Haiku that is an excellent viewpoint thank you

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you The real mother hen that is another potent story I shall remember

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you Jeremy Jacobs

enelrae said...

Wow! I pride myself on intuition and first impressions. Almost 20 years ago I totally blew it although the inner voice kept warning me. I was involved with a man who turned out to be a murderer. I was spared but my wallet was not. Interesting post!!

Peter Haslam said...

Close call enelrae

Michele said...

I guess we are all guilty of jumping to conclusions about people from time to time. It is so noticeable in our younger generations as they are so concerned about looks, about relationships, and about behaviours with each other and how they fit in as a group and they often forget how it hurts others by doing so.
Now, in my age, I find myself judging others very little and I find myself trusting people and this can be a dangerous trait as well. I give people the benefit of the doubt and normally overlook the way a person looks or behaves. I sometimes look at a person that might be dressed and behaving irregular as perhaps wanting so badly not to be in that position and crying for help, rather than a person who may be dangerous and a threat to the environment.
I know I have been judged and it hurts. And perhaps that is why I try not to put someone else in that position. Wonderful post Peter!

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks for your insight Michele

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh. i thought only i did that! ha ha.. seriously, you are right. my "norman" expression is sort of frown looking. if i am not thinking about it people think i am mad at them and i tell them, no, that's just my regular face!

tell cleo to go visit daisy! she is on my sidebar...

smiles, bee

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks Bee and Cleo wants the necklace

pearl said...

always wonderful posts Peter.. I consider myself to be very perceptive and majority of the times I am right but I am sure I've been judgmental without much thought!

There is a video on my site if you get a chance to watch.. its about a girl who does not have arms and does just about everything with her legs! She is seen driving a car but you can't really see her legs and when she pulls in front of the window of a drive-in, takes her foot out of the window to pay the money, the cashier frowns! Only to later find that she doesn't even have arms..these things are really eye openers! good reminder... thanks

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks Pearl I will check out the video