It has come to my attention that I am a first impressions snob. I didn’t realize this about myself until my friends told me that they make a point to prep me before I meet someone new. Apparently, they tell me about the newbie’s social faults upfront, so I won’t be judgmental when I we’re introduced.
Several examples proved their point. And I had nothing to stand on. I was ashamed.
After the shock of realizing I’m not perfect wore off, I started thinking about why I am so quick to decide whether or not I like someone. Maybe it’s because I know what I look for in a friend. Maybe my brain can tell within 10 minutes whether we’re compatible. Either way, it would seem that once I make up my mind, it’s hard to get me to come around.
“But Jen,” you might protest, “so and so is really nice.”
“EXACTLY!” I reply.
‘Nice’ is not a characteristic I include in my “list of things to look for in a friend”. To me, ‘nice’ simply means ‘not mean’. In my experience, very few people are mean when you first meet them. Nice is a given. If someone wasn’t nice to you, then you probably wouldn’t be introducing him or her to me. In fact, you would have likely been offended and avoided that person for the rest of the gathering. If I was going to include ‘nice’ on my list, I would use a better word, such as ‘kind’ or ‘thoughtful’. They carry more weight in my lexicon.
My response to nice is “what else?”
When I meet someone, I want to know more. I don’t need a manifesto or anything, just an indicator that the person is also cool or smart or funny or silly or whatever it may be. From there, I make my decision.
What *is* the deciding factor? It’s anyone’s guess; all I can tell you is that it’s not about pleasantry. I would say that I have pretty great friends, so whatever the algorithm is, it’s working so far.
And to those that didn’t pass through, maybe I was off that night… or maybe you’re a real big jerk.