How Do People See us?
How Do People See Us?
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
It was an ephemeral statement that carried as much weight as a straw in a hurricane. This offhanded comment dissipated as the words left her lips, but it got me to thinking. I’d not considered how I appeared to someone else. I guess we think we know ourselves and what we see is what someone else sees. Both conclusions are of course wrong. Not many people know themselves and even fewer can estimate the view that someone experiences of us.
We are complex beings and our thinking as erratic and undisciplined as it can be, is rarely let loose on an unsuspecting public. So how someone sees us is dependent on many factors. Whether they know us, having a history of our behaviours or how perceptive they are, able to see through the mask that so many of us wear, needs consideration. Finally, how outwardly honest we are in our expression to them, needs to be looked at. All these aspects help to create an impression, an understanding people gain through interaction with us.
The man we just flipped off is doubtfully going to think we are a nice person, as is our assumptions about the woman who just pushed her shopping trolley in front of ours. Every day we make assumptions about people after brief interactions. Often there is no interaction, just purely judgement based on what we see: dress, manner, attitude and more. This is hardly a sound judgement and could never be seen a definitive on any level.
The truth remains that how any one person sees another is singular and subjective. If our dealings with a neighbour for example had always been affable, we are more likely to believe that they are a good, caring person. On the other hand, if we had continually been in conflict with a neighbour we would probably see them as difficult, hard or uncaring.
So knowing someone needs time and experience to establish a broad criterion of behaviours to assess. In the end, we judge that person as worth knowing, kind, caring, this or that. But of course people are far more complex, and our acceptance is influenced also by our own flexibility, patience and willingness to accept fault.
The mystery is still ‘how are we seen?’ There of course cannot be a definite answer. In looking at this problem, I suppose the best way to be seen is in honesty, being exactly who we are. Perhaps we would scare some people off if we were showing a negative side, but at least we would be being honest with us and others. If a friend, after seeing you in a negative state ran for the hills, perhaps they’re not a friend worth keeping.
The statement that began this inquiry was an emotion filled spit of sarcasm, not aimed at me as such, but more a venting against men, and emotional ineptness. Knowing the person well, I knew exactly where it came from and it just flew by, never striking its mark. But it is interesting how we assume, and don’t recognise the detail of how people think and act.
I always try to be honest and present an authentic self. How people see me then is up to their views and judgement. Should that be in opposition to how I feel as a person, who I am; then that is their problem, not mine. Pretence is a fruitless practice, not only misrepresenting to others but deceiving ourselves.