There are billions of people out there in the world with billions of ideas and perceptions. We are quick to judge people we see without a thought. We place labels on each other and put each other in different stylistic groups – it starts in high school and the words stay forever – from jocks, to goths, yuppies, preps, computer nerds – we have a name and category for every kind of person out there, for better or worse.
I feel that our categorization is a way try and define ourselves, while keeping others away from us. It’s negative if you ask me, and as we age we realize at the end of the day that we are all just people – souls inside of bodies.
However, we still can’t help but judge the people we meet. We have first impressions, last impressions, and everything in between. Here’s a small list of subconscious things that we do and act upon without even thinking about it. We do these things day to day without considering how other people will look at us, even though it is in these little things that people begin to develop perceptions about us without even knowing us.
The colours you wear
I wanted to avoid saying “your clothing style” because that is a given – it’s very easy to differentiate people and their ideas by the clothing style they wear, and we all have so many styles anyways. In one day you could be seen wearing a suit, pajamas, athletic gear, and a band t-shirt! But it’s in the colors that you wear that people notice. If you wear yellow on rainy days, people will compliment your optimistic spirit. If you are seen always wearing all black, people might think you are a tad brooding. Red is a passionate colour – people wearing red may be seen as hot tempered, or quick to assessment.
Your writing style
It’s a popular joke that doctors have awful handwriting, and it’s a bit ironic – we think of doctors as being the leaders of society, the people who have succeeded in school and finances and are the most educated, well respected, and highest paid among us. Then what is with their awful handwriting?
You don’t have to be a doctor to have bad handwriting, but there are many styles of script that we use that can indicate things about us. People with sloppy cursive may be thought of as lazy, uninterested or too quick-thinking, while those with neat handwriting will be imagined with a tidy home, and having a very particular way of thinking, for example.
Do you bite your nails or tap your fingers on the bar when you are sitting idly? People notice traits like that and pick up on restlessness or uncomfortable behaviour easily. Adults who are privy to bite their nails in public look careless, or always have something on their mind. If you have a tapping issue, people may see that you are constantly restless and can’t just sit still and enjoy the moment.
What’s on your feet
They say that the first thing people notice when they look at you is your shoes. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, but keep it in your head the next time you go out, and suddenly shoes will be the only thing on your mind. You’ll notice the grocer who wears old runners, businessmen in their dapper leather shoes, and the footwear of the middle class in all it’s varieties. The point is, what kind of shoes you wear certainly can make an impact on your first impression. People who are able to afford good shoes are regarded as being from an upper class, since shoes are so easily destroyed and are expensive to replace.
We can’t not discuss the handshake when it comes to physical gestures. It’s something we all think about when it comes time to pleasantries. Do we shake hands, or hug? Do we shake firmly or loosely? There is such an unwritten protocol when it comes to hand gesture greetings that entire libraries of books have been written on it in every language on earth.
Your best bet is to keep it to a handshake of moderate grip. A lacking hand will make you seem disinterested or not entirely present to the person you’re talking to, and too firm of a grip will make you seem like an usurper, or that you are trying to break their hand. Keep it polite, keep it casual.
It’s easy to gauge someone’s emotions just by looking into their eyes and their face. It’s a reason that drawing eyes is one of the most difficult parts to do when it comes to fine art. We express so much through our eyes – loss, love, sadness, happiness, grief, confusion, etc. People can look into your eyes and detect honesty or lies as soon as they look into you. Best to just be honest and keep your eyes light and expressive.
The way you laugh goes hand in hand with your eyes as far as detectable honesty goes. There are some interesting videos on Youtube about the honesty of laughter that are worth watching, that tell us about how much truth can be felt through someone’s laughter. Are they faking it, or are they really happy? We all know someone with a perpetual cackle that you can just never go out to dinner with because you can hear them throughout the whole restaurant. People make assumptions of character when it comes to our laughter, there’s no doubt about it. Thankfully, all laughter is good laughter.
Do you have eight chains dangling from your neck? Perhaps you wear a very expensive watch – or no watch at all? Another social phenomenon, people have been obsessed with jewellery for eras of humanity. You can decipher someone’s social life through their accessories. If he’s wearing tye-dye banded hemp bracelets, you can probably guess he’s been to a few hippie music festivals this year. Does the girl your dating wear star shaped earrings? Perhaps she’s into astrology. These are the kinds of thoughts that go through everyone’s head when they see new people. Represent yourself well with your favourite accessories, and remember the purpose they play in your social composition.