Yesterday, a man asked me a question. He approached me and presented the following scenario:
Two men present you with investment opportunities. You have $10,000 to give one of them. Their resumes are identical, and as you leave the meeting you are on the fence. Both sound like solid investments, both have promised to make you rich. As you go your separate ways, you see that one man drives a 2002 Subaru, while the other drives a 2012 Camry. Which man do you trust with your money?
What was his point?
He claimed that the man with the new car is much more credible. That we naturally assume that the man with the nicer car is more successful, more accomplished, more trustworthy. What does this say about our society? Is he right? Do so many of our judgments come from people’s external appearance?
Unfortunately yes. Generally speaking, in big broad elementary school strokes, judging people is bad. We’ve all heard don’t judge a book by its cover.
But in real life, does this work? Can we actually with hold judgement on everyone we meet until we truly get to know them? I think no. I think it is entirely unrealistic, and impractical to completely reserve judgement.
The way people choose to present themselves does in fact say something about their personality. The ways in which we present ourselves give the people around us clues about who we are and what our priorities are. To take these cues and pay attention to an individuals presentation to determine a preliminary impression is not bad. To allow these first impressions to determine which people you would like to continue to get to know, is not bad.
You can choose to look at these two men with their respective cars and see the man with the newer nicer car as more successful. Or you can choose to see the man with the older car as more practical and prudent with his money.
You are entitled to your conclusions and impressions based on peoples’ chosen appearance. You can take these clues and what you know about the world and come to a conclusion. But you also might be wrong. People are so multidimensional, and there is always more beyond the surface.