Don’t be so quick to judge
Our brains love to categorize people. We sort people into groups, make assumptions based on they way they look or talk, we are drawn to people we feel that we are alike. Just go to any event where you don’t know anyone and see who the first three people you talk to are. Challenge yourself and approach the ones that don’t remind you of yourself. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s ok, you will most likely learn something new about them, and about yourself. The first impression is immediate and based on your mindset in the moment you meet them. The first impressions last, so be aware when they happen. If you take a moment before you step into a room with strangers to reflect on where you are at – stressed? happy? nervous? Then change your mind set to “curious” and your mind will be open* and not make decisions about the person in front of you too quickly. “Who is this person in front of me? Is he/she who I think, or will they surprise me?” I referring to a professional business setting, but curiosity can be beneficial in most social situations.
I’m watching two white men in their mid 50s talking about their accomplishments, and successes. They are c-suite execs with big companies. They have both done some impressive stuff. They seem the alike to me, but assuming will get me nowhere. I am curious so I approach them after their talk to hear more about what they do, and to tell them about EQ Inspiration (yes that’s me, always selling something.. file systems, software defined whatever, an idea..). I say; “Do you mind the gap? EQ Inspiration invites men into the conversation of why it matters to advance women and minorities to leadership in tech. Women and HR are invited and strongly encouraged to male executive along. We are introducing male role models from sales and engineering management at the event. We want men hear something they can relate to and to leave EQ Inspiration thinking, “Damn it, if he can do that, so can I!”
The first of the two men says, “That is great, good for you”. I say, “No, good for YOU and for your business”. Dead end.
The second man says, “Thank you, I have a daughter, she’s the only woman in her computer science program. Please invite me to your event.”
To me, they are no longer alike.
*Ellen Leanse, author of the Happiness Hack, to told me to change my mindset to curious when I feel stressed, and I think it works for first impressions as well.