We judge people every time we meet them, every moment we are with them. And you are judged in return. Sometimes our judgments are faulty.
Think of a recent example when you misjudged someone. How did it happen. Did you make a quick appraisal—based on your first impression—that they were arrogant, frivolous, not very smart, unsophisticated, inexperienced, or lacking in understanding about a situation? Or did you rely on the previous opinions or labels from others, on what you had heard about them?
When applying for a job, most of us tend to worry about making a good first impression. If that goes well, we feel somewhat reassured and may be less concerned about the second, or third, interview. Yet, you are judged anew each time.
Even after securing the position, you will be judged again on your first day of work, on your first meeting with the team, during your first presentation, and in every new experience.
The cumulative impressions about you eventually become a descriptor, and you acquire a label or two. You may be described as friendly, detail-oriented, hard working, or conversely, unfriendly, sloppy and lazy. How did your coworkers arrive at your labels. Do the labels assigned to you help or hinder you in the workplace? Do you actually know how your coworkers see you?
What labels (spoken and unspoken) do you and others attach to your boss. Is she calm, organized, kind, scary, supportive? How did you determine that? How did you make that judgment? What happens if she “steps out of character,” when she loses her temper or snaps at staff? Does her label change? Does your judgment of her?
Positive labels may have a positive effect, but labels can also be negative, hurtful, even dangerous. In addition, labels frequently lead to inaccurate assessments because we tend to view others through a lens colored by labels or by the opinions of others.
Instead of simply accepting the labels assigned to others, make your own determination. Each time you interact with someone you get to make a new judgment about them. Try being open minded and give others the benefit of doubt. You may find that they surprise you.