We are all guilty of making snap judgements of people we meet, it’s human nature. Whether our bias is conscious or unconscious we are all susceptible to it; but it’s how we process the bias that truly defines us. If our immediate impression influences too heavily our subsequent actions then aren’t we effectively shackling our own experiences? Consider how much we would miss out on if we only ever did what was inherently comfortable?
A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were talking and the topic of nursing came up. Her reaction to my own boobie adventures was pleasantly surprising and reminded me vividly of a time I encountered someone else’s bias towards me.
Now, before I head full throttle into this story, I want to make it clear I wasn’t offended in any way, nor am I highlighting this for any reason other than to encourage people to think twice before deciding a person’s character.
A couple of years ago, I was out with some friends for afternoon drinks, celebrating a birthday. As a family-friendly kinda guy, little people were invited too so I duly took the General with me (the Lord was at a party so the General was without his wing man). I didn’t know many people but I got chatting to the father of another little person who was protectively clinging to a wooden toy and munching his way through a bag of carrot sticks. The General, on the other hand was clattering around his shitty plastic toy from McDonalds and devouring a bag of Wotsits! The conversation (and wine!) flowed as I chatted to various people until I came across the other kid’s mummy. She was dressed in loose trousers and a floaty top, with a woven wrap tucked under her arm – the epitome of my beloved ‘crunchy’ mamas in Toronto. I was drawn to her immediately but was confused by her indifference towards me. In my mind, we clearly had a lot in common (given my love of excess fabric and baby-wearing) so I changed tact and started talking about the kids. She rewarded me with one-word answers but I ploughed on regardless!
Her husband then came over, announcing number two was due in five months and I happened to mention nursing during my second pregnancy. It was like a light switch had been flicked – her entire demeanour changed towards me! The conversation became animated and passionate about nursing, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, baby sign language…the list goes on.
I came away happy I’d made a new friend but couldn’t help but feel that I’d been unequivocally judged in the the first instance. My skinny jeans, red wine and feral, plastic-toting kid had been clocked and chalked up as the whole package.
What distinguishes us from each other isn’t always obvious; and likewise, similarities are often hidden. Getting to know people despite our first impressions (whether they are good or bad) is the key to combatting our intrinsic biases.
For those who are interested in my boobie adventures, there are a couple of old posts you might want to glance over :
Feature image 📸 credit goes to the lovely Lesley at Places With Ed