- On April 27, 2016
How often do we register a first impression….and that becomes our last impression?
The stories about Prince that have been surfacing after his untimely passing last week have had me thinking about how I often set an impression in my mind of someone based on a single interaction. And then forever more, this is the only way I relate to them.
Prince. My snapshot–love his 80’s music, quirky, reclusive, a bit ‘out there’, on the fringe.
No pictures in my mind’s album of his generosity, his background, the twists and turns in his celebrated music career. No array of snapshots clueing me in to the richness and depth of the rest of his life.
Why does understanding the whole ‘photo album’ that is Prince matter? Because his story enriches my experience with his music and feeds my own aspirations for a purpose-driven life. I had no idea that would arise out of reading the memorials.
So, I’ve been reflecting this past week on how often I do this–take one snapshot of a person and treat it as if I know their story.
I’m busy, just like you, plowing through the to-dos, stretching myself to meet impossible deadlines.
And our brains “help” us out by wanting to imprint a pattern it can refer to later so it doesn’t have to spend its energy processing an experience it thinks it already knows. So, interaction = snapshot.
Jim becomes ‘combative’ in my mind because of a brazen comment he once made.
Shana becomes ‘clueless’ because she was forgetful on one piece of information one day.
And you gotta watch Ron, he’s not detail-oriented because a number in one of his estimates was off. I see Ron and my mind sees ‘sloppy.’ He is one-dimensional in my brain.
What don’t I know about the background stories on these co-workers? And what snapshot of me will reside in their minds?
When we mindfully approach each interaction as a new experience, we are more open to understanding and appreciating the full capacity of the people we engage with.
I found out Shana is not ‘clueless’ at all. She is actually a warm and generous woman who has adopted her deceased sister’s two kids to raise on her own. That one-time piece of information she forgot for the meeting I was in seems like such a tiny issue in context of the bigger picture of Shana. Yet my mind took that snapshot and wanted to make that the default– ‘clueless’ Shana.
I’m committing now to be more mindful about the snapshots that are embedded in my mind. I don’t want to wait until I am memorializing your past life to really understand the richness of who you are right now.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock ll Aekkaphob