The First Encounter
First impressions matter. Once someone’s impression of you has solidified, it becomes an (unnecessary) uphill battle in trying to convince them otherwise. Reason being is that people have a tendency to be inclined to conserve brain power by grouping people into neat and tidy little packages. Which is where stereotyping and generalizing comes from.
Another old adage goes that one should treat others like how they want to be treated. Most people would like to be treated well by other people, so to start with, said individuals are kind to the people they meet.
Unintended Consequences of Kindness
It is expected that such good will will be reciprocated by the other party so that both parties will treat each other with good faith. However there is a power dynamic that comes into play where people take the kind behavior as subservience. That is, it is perceived that this kindness is there because they want to get in good with the other person.
It’s not seen as consideration, but rather that they are in a position of power while the person whom is kind is seen as being in a position of weakness. In other words, kindness is mistaken for weakness. In a perfect world, this would not be an issue. Kind behavior would just be exchanged.
Solution: Lean on Extreme
The human tendency to test boundaries prevents this aspect of human civilization from being, “perfect.” Other people will always toe the line to find the point where you will tolerate no more. Perhaps looking to get an angle on you. Using this invasion of sorts as a move into your property. With this analogy, it makes sense then to set the barriers further out then what you would like and let that initial boundary sink into the minds of the other party.
That is another way of saying it is better to start out as being harder and firmer then you would like to be and gradually soften up a bit to show that you can be kind as well, but only after establishing a solid first impression that you are willing and able to be stern. As this firmness, rather then kindness, is what garners respect.
Kingston S. Lim
September 3, 2020
Life Update: I think the older I get, the more I’m craving meaningful relationships with other people. Not just the fleeting ones where you only know someone for a few weeks before parting ways, nor even less of a relationship where you are leaving a foreign city where you are a lone visitor and no one in your hostel/hotel cares that you are leaving. An antidote would be moving around less or having a “base of operations” where you can bunch these excursions, but still be cultivating relationships at the same time. That was what I did when in Thailand and that was a point when I felt more fulfilled then now.