Saturday, March 26, 2011


You see a face, or meet someone for the first time -- if the person seems interested in what you say and listens, or responds in some way -- you begin to "like" the person and go further in a conversational exchange.

But if he/she is poorly, or wrongly dressed? If you notice crumbs on the person's lapel, or maybe a faint odor? Even too much perfume makes you uneasy -- not suspicious, but you are NOT comfortable. Do you become their friend?

There is a firm of lawyers that advertises quite frequently on television. While a recorded voice assures you that the firm is the best and their clients win millions, we see the lawyers -- a pleasant middle-aged lady, a fatherly man, then, a grinning guy, who looks up from his desk with a knowing, off-puttingly bemused smile. Each time I think "HE'S A CROOK!" Would I become a client? No!

I picked out these faces for a Who Can You Trust test.

What do you think of when you see this lady? Is she offering friendship? Is she saying, "Phone me and I'll be your friend?" It's a nice face but her am I not desirable pose -- hmm. Unless that's what you 're looking for, you don't stay focused on her.

But what about her, with her hands on her hips laughing? Chelsea Handler is her name. She's an up-and-coming star with a show -- she teases her guests, and sometimes makes outrageous, almost-but-not-quite crude remarks, but her smile, the tilt of her head is ... pleasantly saucy. We like her. That's undoubtedly why she's an up-and-comer, who is being touted in Newsweek Magazine.

I found these three faces in an advertisement for an online school.

Do you trust this guy? He's a teacher. He looks intelligent, but there's something in his demeanor that suggests that he's bored, or he feels superior. Maybe he doesn't really like his work? Why do I feel he's doing this work temporarily?

There's something about him that suggests, to me, that he is very restless.

What about this young lady teacher?
Her posture implies that she's not sure of herself -- is she pretending to know things that she doesn't really know? And her confident expression -- is it somehow slightly fake? Why do I think she's prissy? Her hands? It's as if she's nervously hiding behind them,

What about this lady on the right? I happened to notice that she's a "psychological counselor." Immediately, I'm wondering why she can't get her weight under control? If she's a good counselor -- there to help students and advise them about what courses they ought to take ... well ... why can't she help and advise herself to do something about her weight?

I think you knows lots of things almost immediately when you meet someone, or see their picture.

Okay, don't judge a book by its cover -- but pay attention to what you're thinking -- don't ignore the intuitions that flicker across your mind. They can help you connect with someone who can really be a help to you. They can help you NOT attach yourself to a new friend, counselor, employee, doctor, lawyer, accountant, or housekeeper -- a person who is sending you a message that he/she and you aren't going to really get along very well.

Trust yourself. Listen to the advice you give yourself.


Paul Mendenhall said...

Funny, my reactions to these pictures were entirely different.
#1: A wry sense of humor, a capacity for self-mockery. I like her.
#2: HATE her. She looks like she's about to tackle you, and would love taking you down. Very aggresive.
#3: Very insecure; a boy trying to do a man's job. Fearful.
#4: Boring, prissy. Nice, but who cares?
#5: Intelligent, humorous, compassionate. Who cares about her weight? It just tells me she enjoys sensual pleasures.

There was an interesting story on TV last night. They did a test where they showed pictures of politicians to people for one second, and asked them to judge them as to competence. 70% of the time, the ones people said were competent had won their elections. That's how fast people judge.

Linda Phillips said...

I agree with you and I do. Like you, I am very observant of people: how they dress, what their expression says, how they stand. It just seems to be a natural instinct that I have.

Bobbie Horowitz said...

You're so on target Emily. AND - as a certified image consultant I've learned that what you think (it's subliminal) in those first seconds you meet someone is often determined by the hues and style they're wearing. You probably know the old studies that showed that 55% of a first impression is made up by the visual, 38% by the way the person sounds and moves and that leaves only 7% for what they say! People can learn to frame themselves like the work of art they are (we're all works of art) - in colors and shapes that harmonize with themselves.

I agree about the counselor's weight an the expressions on faces. It's so interesting and there's always more to discover about ourselves too. I'm still discovering places I might "push" a little. Thankfully, they're getting fewer and there's still more for me to learn.

Anonymous said...

I required heart surgery, the cardiologist I went to was short, very, very thin, he looked like a jackal , was gray haired, I wasn't to sure about his sexual preference and my dog didn't like him. Do I sign up with him for surgery based on these impressions? Do I trust him with my life? The answer was yes, why did I trust him, he was the best cardiologist in North America, had invented a heart valve, had successful done 100's of similar surgeries with success, top of his class, years of experience,published and taught others and was highly regarded by his peers both professionally and personally. Understanding the rest of his story made all the difference in my perception because I was really interested in his skill to do what I needed to have done. We all have bias, we all use whatever skills we have to determine a level of trust we will give to a strangers. Dr. Richard Hawking, is a genius, exploring the universe, he looks very strange and sits in a wheelchair. If we met him at a party would we write him off? xxxxoooo Heather