Ways We Misinterpret First Impressions

February 27, 2017  |  
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First impressions can be everything, but should they be? I have to remind you that sociopaths make amazing first impressions; they know exactly how to make someone feel flattered, excited and at ease all at the same time. Knowing how to make people love you isn’t always a good thing. Perhaps what’s more important is that somebody is fully transparent and 100 percent themselves, even if that doesn’t make the greatest first impression. At least that way, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Don’t give too much sway to people who make flawless first impressions and don’t dismiss those who make less-than-perfect ones. Things are not always as they seem. Here are ways we terribly misinterpret first impressions.

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The complimenter

It’s hard not to like the person who pays you a lot of compliments. No matter how much you’ve tamed your ego, it is bound to light up when somebody tells you how gorgeous you are, how brilliant you are, and what a great sense of humor you have. How could you not take a good first impression from them?

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Flattery is a distraction

Think of the times you’ve been overly nice to somebody—you were probably trying to cover up something. Something like the fact that you had a crush on their fiancé, or were vying for the job they had, or really didn’t like them and wanted to stop yourself from getting into an argument.

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The questioner

It’s not uncommon for someone to leave a party and remember their favorite person as the person who asked them the most questions about themselves. We are often our own favorite topic.

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Questions are also a distraction

Often, when someone asks a lot of questions about others, it’s a way for them to gain control. Sociopaths usually ask people so many questions about themselves that they don’t even notice they learned nothing about the sociopath. There are, of course, genuine and kind people who are just curious about others. But if someone only asks about you and deflects when you try to ask about them, they could be hiding something.

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The non-conformist

It can seem a little rude if one person doesn’t make a sound when the rest of the group bursts out laughing at a story or joke somebody told. Are they too good to laugh? Is this party below them and are these people too simple for them?

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That person might just be honest

If you think about it, that individual didn’t say or do anything insulting; they just didn’t put on airs or fake a compliment (in the form of laughter). Some of the most transparent people in the world can’t laugh if they don’t find something funny simply because they aren’t well-versed in the art of faking an emotion. That may not be such a bad thing.

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The great debater 

Sure, parties are nice when everybody gets along. Sometimes, if one person disagrees with something somebody else says and starts a debate, it can feel like they’re ruining the fun. People who don’t just go along with everything being said at a dinner party might seem like they’re trying to rock the boat.

Disagreeing is caring

So long as this person isn’t rude in the way they bring up their opinion, they are probably just a passionate person. They see the value in looking at two sides of every coin and seeing everyone’s perspective. Maybe they’re too “combative” at dinner parties, but in real life, they’ll actually give a damn and be invested when you talk to them about a real issue, rather than just try to brush over the subject because it’s “not fun.”

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The storyteller

Some people are full of anecdotes—anecdotes about their travels, their ancestors, their coworkers and articles they’ve read. One might describe these people as “fascinating” and “knowledgeable.” They’re certainly entertaining at parties.

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Stories aren’t intimate

The person who is always telling a story to the group is usually never involved in an intimate, one-on-one conversation. Telling stories is their way of avoiding more personal conversations. There could be a dozen reasons why they want to avoid these, but none of those reasons are good.

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The early exiter

If a dinner party is in full swing and somebody says they need to call it a night before dessert has even been served, without offering much of an explanation, they may seem flat-out rude. If a guy you thought you were hitting it off with does this, then you’ll likely think he’s just not that into you or he thinks he’s better than everyone there.

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People have their reasons

If you really felt you were hitting it off with someone, and they leave early with little explanation, don’t judge them too quick. A million things could be going on, ranging from sudden onset stomach issues to a friend who texted them about an embarrassing (private) emergency.

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The over-sharer

It can be a bit off-putting if someone shows up to a celebratory, happy night and takes over the conversation with some bad news they just received. You might be thinking, “Somebody loves attention” or “Why did they show up if they were just going to be depressed?”

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At least they share

Do you really want to be friends with or date somebody who is good at pretending everything is fine when something terrible just happened? That’s slightly sociopathic. Furthermore, do you want to be friends with or date somebody who just cancels seeing you every time something bad happens to them? Showing up, and being honest about what’s going on in one’s life, is the most mature and honest way to be, really.

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The money thrower

The guy who buys a round for everybody or secretly picks up the dinner check seems so generous, so carrying, so thoughtful yadda-yadda. How could you dislike that guy?

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Sometimes it’s a power move

Keep in mind that there were probably other men at that table who are a bit embarrassed that another man just bought their wife or girlfriend dinner. And remember that picking up the tab is a way of saying, “I’m rich—just so you know.” It depends on the circumstances, of course, but if someone does this, look out for signs that they use their money as a bargaining tool in relationships.

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The fixer

It can become a bit overwhelming when the person sitting next to you only wants to talk about your career, give you advice and offer to introduce you to relevant contacts.

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Some people don’t know how to socialize

Hey, some people just don’t know how to keep it light, tell funny stories and socialize. They’re a bit awkward, and the only way they know how to talk to people is to try to be of help in some way. You can steer the conversation in another direction by asking this person more personal questions.

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The quiet one

Quiet people are often interpreted as either incredibly shy or incredibly judgmental. Either way, it’s hard to get to know a shy person and many people don’t have the patience to try.

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People are quiet when they listen

Often people who are quiet are just exceptional listeners. They really want to get to know what new people are about before investing in them. If you think about it, that’s kind of smart.

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