Idiosynchronicity

The top line: You probably do know what people think of you

But it’s likely you don’t know any one person’s assessment. “We have a fairly stable view of ourselves,” says Bella DePaulo, visiting professor of psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “We expect other people to see that same view immediately.” And they do. On average there is consensus about how you come off. But you can’t apply that knowledge to any one individual, for a variety of reasons.

For starters, each person has an idiosyncratic way of sizing up others that (like metaperceptions themselves) is governed by her own self-concept. A person you meet will assess you through her unique lens, which lends consistency to her views on others. Some people, for example, are “likers” who perceive nearly everyone as good-natured and smart.

via Metaperceptions: How Do You See Yourself? | Psychology Today

I dunno. My view of myself seems deeply influenced by my mood, but if that’s what she thinks is within the realm of “fairly stable”, I guess I’ll go along with it.

I asked my wife if I seem like a nervous person. She said no. I was surprised. I told her that a lot of times I feel like a nervous wreck, and then she was surprised. She assured me that I don’t come off that way. I believe her when she says that. I’d know if she were only trying to make me feel better, because I know her so well.

I do agree with the above statement that we each have “an idiosyncratic way of sizing up others” according to our self-concept. People expect me to hold opinions of them that are not what I caught on to when I met them. Then I wonder what kind of face I was making when I met them. I was probably aloof, off in my own head, trying to think of something clever due to my ridiculous desire to say something funny to make them laugh, because that’s what I think will have the best chance of making them like me and not think I’m boring.

If I get to know them well enough, we’ll probably agree. Or at least I will have addressed the disparity in their expectations and the actual outcome of what kind of person I believe they are.

I Just Got Called Out By Someone I’ve Never Met

Shyness: a double whammy

If you are socially anxious (otherwise known as shy), you likely fret that you don’t come off well. Unfortunately, you’re probably right. Shy people convey unflattering impressions of themselves, says DePaulo. But not for the reasons they think. People don’t see them as lacking in smarts, wit or attractiveness but as haughty and detached. When you’re anxious, you fail to ask others about themselves or put them at ease in any way, which can be seen as rude and self-centered.

In a way, many shy people are self-centered, points out Bernie Carducci, psychologist at Indiana University Southeast and author of Shyness: A Bold New Approach. They imagine that everyone is watching and evaluating their every move. They think they are the center of any social interaction, and because they can’t stand that, they shut down (unlike an exhibitionist, who would relish it). Socially anxious people are so busy tracking what others think that they can’t act spontaneously. Still, many people find them endearing, precisely because they don’t hog attention.

via Metaperceptions: How Do You See Yourself? | Psychology Today

Being self-centered isn’t just for extroverts anymore. (Not trying to be snarky – the statement in the above quote is true.) Preoccupation with your reputation is grounds for elimination from further consideration of your transformation from mere vacillation to emancipation.

In other words, if people find out how selfish you are, they will no longer hope for you to be free.

The irony is that “haughty and detached” is often the last things that a shy person wants to be. But then, “self-centered” is the worst. It’s a cause for guilt, and as you might imagine, a shy person gives in to guilt like a crater gives in to a meteor. The introspective personality catches on to this dynamic quickly, but knows not what to do with the realization. The reaction is emotional. Changing emotional states is easy for few, introvert or extrovert. Thus, the introvert feels stuck.

I “don’t come off well”, as I may have already admitted. I got over not being “the center of any social interaction”, but then again, I’m in my forties. Now I’m more of a social sniper: The well-timed comment or quip goes further than the speech, has more impact, and is easily more memorable. Let the blow-hards have their way, but the cunning will seize the day.