You know a lot more about a stranger than you realise. And at first glance, people know a lot about you. That was my realisation after an exercise in the Networking and Personal Interaction workshop I attended.
We paired up with a stranger and were asked to describe the contents of our wardrobe. Very literally. My partner told me about his wardrobe: white and black t-shirts; jeans; that was almost all he told me. From that description, we were encouraged to make bold assumptions: was the person married? Where did they live? What were their hobbies? Which way do they vote?
It was hit and miss, of course. But what I was surprised by was that where my partner described me incorrectly, he actually described someone similar to me, me in a different life scenario almost. It reminded me – people make assumptions, put people and things in ‘boxes’ – not just because it’s economical to do so, but because it is frequently correct. Portraying yourself effectively as the person you want to be, is almost as important as being that person.