Thin slicing happens when the human mind shifts quickly through first impressions, intuition based on past experiences, and current information, and makes a judgment about a message, a person, or an idea.
- Thin slicing is at the root of snap judgments, continuing conflicts, nagging disagreements, and fights that never seem to go away; it is near to the root of our “fight,” “flight,” and “fear” reactions.
- Thin slicing is at the bottom of the contempt that we have for people and ideas without knowing why we feel that; it is at the bottom of the disgust response; it is at the bottom of most divorces, and other traumatic relational breaks.
- Thin slicing is at the core of the old saying “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
The moment after you make a judgment—and mostly snap judgments are the first judgments made—is the most important moment, because without training and constant vigilance, thin slicing and snap judgments are often not examined, second-guessed, or unpacked.
The training, constant vigilance, and self-awareness to examine your own thin-slicing process, opens you up to feelings of empathy, understanding, and to the uncomfortable feeling of being consciously incompetent.
Particularly as you wrestle mentally, emotionally, and spiritually with a challenging idea, a person who was raised differently than you were, or to current information that supersedes past information you believed was right.
The media likes to ask the “gotcha” question of electoral candidates and celebrities, “Do you have any regrets about ‘x’ decision?” Many political candidates, and celebrities, when asked that question, tend to respond historically with words which reveal a lack of training, a lack of constant self-questioning and minimal mental, emotional, and spiritual vigilance.
Yet, here’s the challenge: If you can’t even handle being challenged on your thin-slicing tendencies on a daily basis, then expecting that a candidate running for office, a celebrity, or some other person to do what you cannot, is a childish expectation.
In a world where the penalties for making the “wrong” decision, are higher and higher, it is incumbent upon you, me, and everyone else, to start being more vigilant after we’re done thin slicing our world.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org