Unmasked Shocker: hello, your face!

Now that we’ve mostly taken off our masks, there’s a very strange thing occurring: I no longer recognize people I thought had become familiar.

Do you remember listening to people on the radio and imagining what they looked like? Whether you were conscious of it or not you were expecting them to look a certain way and, most of the time for me, at least, I was sooooo wrong. Didn’t expect that height, or lack thereof, sure didn’t see that beard coming, etc.

And now, people who I came to know in stores and businesses, and could recognize by their eyes and general physical presence, are complete strangers again. I didn’t see the bottom half of your face coming!

This is all part of expectations and how important they are to how you are perceived by people you want to impress, engage, or relate to. We all establish expectations through our online presence and many of us have had the experience of being underwhelmed by the reality, once experienced. But that’s the online thing.

In real life, the minute you walk into a room people form judgments AND EXPECTATIONS of who you are, what your knowledge and experience are, how valuable your information will be/not be, and whether or not they like you and will pay attention to you.

Some writers on this topic claim that we instantly categorize people, subconsciously, as predator, prey or partner but the biggest category most fall into is: I don’t care.

Managing expectations about who you are and what you can contribute starts by having a clear sense of how you are perceived in those first few seconds. What’s the first thing people notice about you, how old do they think you are, how far did you go in school, do you have dogs, cats or fish?

You’d be astounded how many instant judgments we make about others within seconds of meeting them. And, of course, they do it to us.

Joanna Piros