Be curious, not polite
First impressions are given a lot of weight. Without a positive initial interaction, a friendship may never bloom. Or so they say.
Although it may not be in any one’s favor if you decide to insult the friend of a friend you’re meeting tomorrow night, cutting through superficiality when first meeting someone may work to your benefit.
This article will explore how a not-so-great first impression can lead to a lasting friendship — or at the very least, the respect that comes with a willingness to be transparent.
The power of having many faces.
The friends you most enjoy having constantly offer new impressions. It’s fun to spend time with a person who subverts our initial expectations. Humans feel intrigued when their first impressions conflict with what they later discover.
It’s a reminder that our perspectives are our own projections. They don’t necessarily map onto the real world. If it’s at all possible to see a person in the wrong light, it begs the question of how frequently we’re overlaying our own interpretations and assumptions onto others, even while we think we’re seeing them for who they are.
People of many angles make us feel less alone.
We all experience ourselves in several forms. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, our moods don’t believe each other. In the morning we feel cranky and unmotivated, and by 10 at night we’re laughing or entranced by a new book.
When you’re willing to show others the whole story of who you are, from the tears of futility to the enthusiasm brought about by minor triumphs, you’re going to get closer to them faster. And this is because humans have the tendency to flatten the minds of others.
While we’re aware of our own vast array of intentions and motivations, we can fall prey to simplifying the dispositions and motives of our companions, thinking that they do what they do for this or that reason, forgetting that they’re likely plagued with contradiction just as we are.
However, when two people are able to see each other as the ever-shifting beings they are, the artifice present in most friendships falls away, and greater intimacy becomes possible.
Politeness doesn’t make people trust you.
Contrary to popular opinion, if your first meeting with someone involves you warning them about the stain on their shirt, this may work in your favor.
Think of it this way: how often do you mean it when you say, “it’s nice to meet you”? If this is what you say to everyone, even the people with whom you never exchange more than a few words after greeting, how sincere can this expression really be?
Overly friendly people inadvertently materialize their own fears. They think that by being polite and abiding others will like them. However, cardboard politeness just emphasizes distance and misapprehension. It demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of human nature. It’s likely that you’re aware of your own resilience. You’ve weathered insults and broken expectations, yet you still kept living.
When we’re tossing compliments everywhere, or when we’re dishonest about our true feelings, we demonstrate the belief that other people are fragile.
Even if they seem confused or offended at first, people feel respected when you’re willing to tell them about the green thing between their teeth. It shows that you’re not going to see them out of obligation. You’re not going to withhold critical information out of fear of hurting their feelings. You’re not pretending, and it’s because you take their experience as seriously as your own.
Transparency dissolves the masks that people put on in relationships. It breaks down our tendency to objectify one another.
The more we show others what’s beneath the mask, and the less that we attempt to change ourselves to become what we think they’ll want, the easier it is to connect with people.
This holds true at any juncture in a relationship, but disrupting expectations when first meeting can set the stage for a rich, dynamic, and honest interactions.