First impressions

First impressions

You’ve heard: “The mind is a beautiful thing.” And, it is! It’s amazing how quickly it processes and feeds us information. However, at times that information can be biased and give us false impressions. Let’s consider the mind’s impact on your impression of other people. When we meet someone for the first time, there is usually a 15–30 second period which gives you a first impression.

While only a small percentage of their life, that first impression represents 100% of what you know about the person and you, like most people, weigh initial information much more heavily than later information. So subconsciously you have taken in their clothing, body language, comments, and responses, as well as the circumstances and stress they find themselves in at that time and made a decision that will formulate the basis for any future (or lack thereof) relationship.

When we meet someone for the first time, we will never truly grasp either the joy, excitement, and enthusiasm or the pressures and stresses they are facing at this time in their life. In reality, we do not know if the person we are talking to is projecting the true essence of what God created them to be. Matthew 7: 1-2 says: Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. I bring that up because every one of us has some bias and uses our own personal “filter” to evaluate others and compare them to what we imagine they should be. It is an inherent problem and the foundation for arguments that is quite often based on semantics rather than substance.

Over 2,400 years ago Hippocrates identified four distinctly different types of behavior and the differences in how those behaviors communicate. While his theory on the basis of what caused those types to behave the way they do was a bit off base, he was amazingly accurate when it came to the actual patterns of behavior and communication. His descriptions of those styles are still widely used as a foundation for measurement in some psychometric assessment tools or personality tests today. I tell you this, because those behavioral filters bias our opinion of others and may lead you to inappropriate judgment. I could tell you to read my book on behavioral and attitudinal types, but that is not the point. The point is there are many factors influencing the person you are talking to.

The reality is that we are not here for ourselves. We are here to be a light in the darkness. That means we must adapt to and appreciate those who are different: To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). We must listen and seek to identify with the other person so we will understand why God brought their path to ours. There will be times when the person’s purpose is to stretch our patience to mature us. However, there will be other times when the person possesses a gift directly from the Father to enrich your life and make you greater in the Kingdom — even if you do not like them! You will never be able to decide which role the person is playing if you make up your mind in 20 seconds. Give the person a chance to be her/himself unless your spirit of discernment makes it obvious. I have never met a person who could not teach me something. If you look, I think you will find the same thing true.

Love, Dad

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