Facts vs Impressions.
An impression is simply a clue.
A fact is something that you believe (through information).
When was the last time you formed got an impression about someone or something that was not based on a fact?
When was the last time you based something on what you thought was a fact, and it turned out to be the exact opposite?
Impressions are formed.
A fact is received information.
Now, let’s break it down into a real life example:
Picture this, you are about to interview someone for a sales role. When you look at their résumé, they have all the qualifications, experience, and skills that would fulfill the requirements of the vacancy. You tell yourself “On paper, this candidate is ideal for this role”. You are basing that on the fact that is received ie. what is in front of you (the résumé).
When the candidate walks in, he does not say a word, he gives a very loose handshake, sits uptight, and does not make eye contact with you.
What will your first impression say about this candidate? Is he still “ideal for this role?”
Can you see the difference between a fact and an impression?
So, here are three tips on how to handle facts and impressions together:
- Be open minded – The impression that you create about a person is always in your control. Yes, their behaviour or outward appearance will be the clue about forming an impression. That said, the final decision is yours. Being open minded means that you are not giving in to the facts alone, nor are you giving in to the impressions alone. You are being open to looking at both equally.
- Distinguish between the facts and the truth – The legendary Bob Proctor, (whom I consider to be the godfather of personal development) once said “Forget the facts, just give me the truth”. At this point, you may be wondering “What is the difference between a fact and the truth?” Dr Matt Moody (Social Psychologist) wrote a very enlightening article on this subject. He said “The word “fact” is often used to mean “reality”—the way things ARE, the way the world IS. But then what word should represent the legal evidence that is used to mislead? In legal arenas, fact is often far from a truthful representation of reality.” In the job interview example above, the fact was that the candidate had the right skills, qualifications, and experience for the role. The truth is that he was extremely nervous during the interview, and created a not-so-impressive first impression. How do you balance the two? Well, that will always remain subjective to your views, opinions, and preferences. That said, please see point number 3 below.
- Create a balanced view of the person – In an article by George Dieter (author of I-Power, The Freedom to Be Me), he states “When you observe what someone does or says, it triggers a response in you according to your experiences, values and expectation.” Opinions are a projection of your values, not the other person’s. As challenging as it will be, do your best to not form an opinion about someone, based on a fact alone or an impression alone. Let me share an example with you. I volunteer as a kitchen hand at a mental health support centre. There are times when some of the attendees are rude, and on the odd occasion, physically abusive too. One day, an attendee who is battling a mental illness and a physical impairment started telling the kitchen volunteers to work faster and harder (by raising her voice). Clearly, she was very hungry. She had no idea about how hard we were working already. It could have been very easy for me to form an opinion about her and label her as “Rude” or “Ungrateful”. Then, I thought “This behaviour of hers is not a holistic view of her. There is more to her than just this behaviour.” That supported me in forming a balanced view of that person. The fact was that she was very hungry. The impression was that she was rude. Creating a balanced view of her was a conscious choice, and enabled me to remain calm.
The above mentioned three points can be applied in:
- Job interviews
- Managing or supervising staff
- Taking care of children
- Doing community service work.
Quote: “It takes just a moment to judge someone, but a lifetime to understand them.” Tina Ng
I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can handle facts and impressions in a balanced way.
Influencing you to your excellence,
PS: My Anti-Bullying Charity’s latest short video addresses – “Duty Of Care” – https://youtu.be/fZN7vMp_IgE