Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Snap Judgements?

Do you make snap judgements?   Do you meet a person once and either relate to them or not - either think 'yes, I could make a friend of you' or 'I certainly don't want to see you again!'   And, if so, are these judgements really fair?   In fact this judgement does not necessarily have to go as far as meeting a person.   It can just be seeing a person.

This happened to me this morning and it set me thinking about just how fair this is.   I suppose we are all guilty of doing it.  I'll tell you what happened.

Friend W always very kindly takes me into our little town on Tuesday mornings.   We go to the Post Office, pay our newsagent's bills, do a bit of shopping and then meet in our favourite Coffee Bar for a drink and a natter (we are pretty good at that) .

This morning a family came and sat on another table and had what looked like an all day breakfast (it was 10.30am - they could easily have been up here on holiday - in any case I could always fancy an all day breakfast at any time but because I watch my weight I suppress the urge).   I don't think W noticed them as she had her back to the table, but I couldn't help noticing them and their behaviour.

They were quiet, they were well behaved, their table manners were perfect - so far, so good.   But one thing marred the whole scene for me.   The man was absolutely festooned in gold.   He wore gold earrings, he had gold bracelets on both wrists and a gold watch as well, he had four or five gold chains of varying thicknesses around his neck and a gold ring on almost every finger.

Now why should that lead me to make snap judgements?   For all I know he could have looked at me and thought how dowdy I was, sitting there with just one thin gold chain around my neck; or maybe he had an aversion to the colour of my hair, or my hairstyle.  He is entitled to his own views, but my judgement of him rests entirely on the quantity of gold he had about his person.   I didn't even hear him speak - they spoke quietly and got on with eating their meal.

Should we try not to make snap judgements like this?   Are we being unfair to people or, as they never know in instances like this, does it matter?   What is your view?

28 comments:

Gwil W said...

Perhaps he doesn't trust banks. Prefers to have his money about him. But why flaunt it? That's really the point. I can't ever imagine you as being dowdy, Pat. But that's my snap judgement.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Well, most of us are taught that being so gaudy is a sign of bad taste, so someone who is festooned with gold doesn't feel like a person who would be much of a kindred spirit. It's not a judgement on his worth as a human being, just an acknowledgement that you might not have much in common.

Mac n' Janet said...

We do make these judgments and make them quickly. For me it's tatoos, hate them and wonder about people who have them, are they crying out for attention? I don't need "needy" people in my life.

the veg artist said...

Was it a cultural/nationality thing? I think we all notice something that is out of our ordinary, whether we regard it as exotic or just in bad taste, but then we are considering our own taste to be good.
I will never, ever, forget the time that I heard a colleague say that some clients who had just entered the office were the "scum of the earth". She didn't know them, had never met them, did not even have to deal with them. They were 'hippies'of the 1970's variety, perhaps a bit grubby, but pleasant and polite. I judged my colleague that day, and she did not do well!

Reader Wil said...

I also do snap judgments, and often notice that it is not fair. I even do it with bloggers. Fortunately I like most of them, but sometimes I come across a person with lots of negative energy and then I feel pretty unhappy.
I am always glad to read your posts. I hope you'll have a wonderful week.
Wil, ABCW Team.

Heather said...

I would have felt the same way Pat - and yes, it is unfair. The man was probably a very nice person whose taste in dress and adornment is just very different from yours and mine. Maybe it is simply human nature to think like this. The saying 'don't judge a book by it's cover' comes to mind.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I think that some negative judgements come from fear of the unknown. Just this week, in North Carolina, a group of 25 African Americans was turned out of a restaurant after waiting 2 hours to be seated (one of them had been a regular customer there for several years), because one white man was uncomfortable with that many black people around. Of course this has national and international attention and good people are appalled - and this on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Law in the U.S.

And sometimes judgements come from ugliness inside the person - like the waitress who turned the African American people out of the restaurant and said she did it because "she just wanted to". That is ugliness in all its "glory".

But most snap judgements are usually something that we can change in ourselves if we look at it as a "snap" judgement and use reason with ourselves as to why we chose to make that decision. Fortunately most people are kind hearted and will give others another look.

I like to think that when people see me they don't make a snap judgement for whatever reason - and I try to not make them myself - though I'm certainly not always good at that either.

I truly think that if we could sit down with others, have a cookie or a piece of cake and a little chat we'd find that we are really all the same inside - some are dressed in lots of gold (perhaps he was not allowed decorations when he was growing up, or was told he was homely and this makes him feel good), some are hippies, some have different skin - but we are all the same inside - we want to be liked and we want others to reach out to us - not push us down.

I shall try harder. Thank you for the though provoking post.

shadypinesqltr said...

I try not to make snap judgements based on appearance only. However, having waited tables in my past, I would definitely think less of the gold -festooned customer if he was stingy on his tip to the waitress etc. I know however that tipping practices are very different in the UK.

shadypinesqltr said...

Furthermore, being over 60, I hate being dismissed as an old fogey. Some of the most interesting conversations I have ever had have been with uninteresting or unlikely looking people.

Bovey Belle said...

Hmmm. I grew up in a place where I encountered people of a . . . genre . . . who wore their wealth ostentatiously like this man. They also ALL had (usually piebald or skewbald)driving horses, and worked for themselves and lived in spic and span "palaces". Perhaps he was of this culture too?

I am a good judge of character - it's an instinct with me - someone doesn't have to say a word, I just "know" what they are like. A useful trait to have at times! I have only once not been able to "read" someone, and that was because they were incredibly shy.

I would never presume to judge someone on how they looked, but it would tell me a great deal about them as a person.

MarmaladeRose said...

I think we all make snap judgements Weaver. Maybe it comes from our cave man survival instincts. I'm loving your banner picture.

Jinksy said...

I guess some chaps just like jewellery... Or perhaps his rich wife gives him lots of presents, because he's such a super husband, and he wouldn't dare not to wear them! LOL

Canadian Chickadee said...

I agree that it's easy to make snap judgements, but as you so rightly point out, it can be a big mistake.

My friend's daughter has a PHD and is also a talented designer who has created hats for the San Francisco Opera. She is also writing a children's book which shows great promise. She is kind, honest, funny, and i would trust her with my life.

Did I mention that her hair is fuschia colored, she has a nose ring, and I haven't seen her in anything other than black since the day she got married eleven years ago?

If you saw her on the street, your impulse might be to cross the road, but it would be a huge mistake, and you would miss out on a truly lovely, intelligent, and interesting person.

Rachel said...

He probably looked at you and thought how quaint, some local Dales women down from the hills.

marilyn said...

I have to say the well mannered children would have made me pay more attention to the group than to the bejeweled man! Live and let live is more often easier said than done and I am one of the worst at snap judgments. I am working on fixing this.

John Gray said...

Funny but I am the same
Men with jewellery irritate me on a basic level bugger alone knows where it came
You are human pat.... Welcome to us .. The snap judgemental crew

MorningAJ said...

I'm a hunchback. I've been judged on appearances all my life. It's wrong. Always.

Irene said...

I suppose it's a person's behavior and attitude that matters and for that reason we can not let outward appearances influence our judgment about them too much. That is too much influenced by preconceived ideas that may or may not be well grounded. If he and his family were well behaved and soft spoken, then that says a lot too.

Crafty Green Poet said...

We all do it and it might be a useful trait if you're a writer, you can create a character from your snap judgement and hopefully that is nothing like the real person and they won't recognise themselves when you write about them!

Arija said...

It is unfortunate that we all make snap judgement. I do my best to step on the brakes though. I realise that not only have we no idea what our life's learning is but we certainly are completely in the dark about anyone else's.
Personally , I neither wear jewellery nor do I change what God and my life created by painting over it. I think a smile and inner happiness does more for one's appearance than any amount of spack filler or gold.
I just told a lie, I do wear a gold chain to keep up my Medic-Alert medallion and an almost invisible gold chain with a tiny St.Christopher medal that my sister gave me years ago to keep me safe when travelling.
They are so much part of me, I forgot all about them.

Molly said...

I think, people's appearances don't bother me too much unless they're wearing something indecently offensive. Irritating, inconsiderate behaviour is another matter - I absolutely hate that. These people seemed quite nice and well mannered from what you say.

mansuetude said...

If he made you think deeply, already he is your friend.

Love your blog.

Woman Seeking Center said...

Another fascinating post you've given us to ponder Pat...

I've long and often wondered precisely why I have (whatever) initial reaction to anyone I meet or observe?

Sometimes my reaction/impression is related to their attire but it come equally often because of their actions, body language, expression or other variable factor.

Much the same way I'm ASTOUNDED at how precisely I've formed a sketch or picture or tone of voice in my mind for a person I've emailed or written to but not met or spoken with. Upon meeting or talking or seeing a picture of them it's almost always different than I'd unintentionally created. How odd!?

Specific reactions to individual points (such as jewelry, clothing, age, companions et al) are all the more interesting and confusing!

From whence do these reactions/impressions come? Taught or chosen? Do we edit them or do we embrace them in our mind? Do we alter our initial impression before or after we perchance meet or talk with the person? (or not)?

If I were years (many, lol) younger I'd think this topic perfect fodder for a thesis or research grant topic, lol

Thanks for yet another challenging post (in the most excellent way).

Warm regards
Issy

Cloudia said...

Gypsy? Jew? Jeweler? Vain? Effeminate? Scarred Refugee?

Just a few of the possibly implied characteristics that came to my mind in Freudian immediacy.

We do rely on snap judgements day to day, it is a well established psychological principle.

Thanks for your honesty in initiating this convo, pal


ALOHA, Friend
from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
=^..^= <3



Virginia said...

Cloudia's thoughts also went through my mind - but I also thought that I would have been impressed by his children's behaviour, and revised my negative thoughts in view of that.

I'm a teacher, and that influences my judgements, and where my prejudices lie.

Mrs F with 4 said...

I try not to make snap judgements, but I dare say I'm guilty. Mind you, I wonder, sometimes, what people think of me, as first glance. Bright white and silver hair (since my teens!) with a rebellious midnight purple streak in it (that's recent), and a very sharp cut. Four children, not yet teenagers, and I'm mid-forties.

Love my platform boots and underwear that always matches. Apparently I'm considered the chic Engllishwoman..with the unintelligible accent...out here in rural Quebec. I'm from the Dales...can drive a tractor, a snowblower, a combine, deal with most farm animals and implements, and use pretty much any power tool you care to mention. Oh, and I weld. And bake, preserve, make bread, crochet blankets....all that.

Hmmm, maybe 'first impression' is better than snap judgement? I've been wrong, and now try to take my time forming an opinion of character. But in the case of lots of gold jewellery on men, or poor grammar and spelling, I have to make exceptions!

Loren said...

After teaching high school for thirty years I like to think that my "snap judgements" are better than most people's snap judgements.

More important to me, though, is how you use those snap judgements and whether you're able to still deal with the people at a professional level.

After fighting in Vietnam, I had a hard time dealing with Vietnamese refuges and was most worried that I would be prejudiced when one entered my Freshman English class. I fought those prejudices and ended up choosing the girl to work in my yearbook class the next two years.

I'm prejudiced against tattoos, too, but I've managed to become quite fond of some people that sport them.

So, I'd would say that just being aware of your tendency to make snap judgement is enough to blunt any negative effect they might have.

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