There are so many things we are cognizant of in other people without being conscious of it, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what comes first.
I meet new people every day at work. Whether they are male or female is a good place to start I suppose. Sometimes it’s surprisingly hard to tell, especially with little kids from other cultures. I tried to sell a small boy pink glasses once. He looked quite pretty in them but it wasn’t the look he was going for I guess. The male/female thing is important to sort out when directing a customer to the right section of the store, but when in doubt I just advise them to look wherever they want.
Then there’s the people who give you little choice in what you notice first. Why else would someone do something weird and extreme to his hair if that’s not something he wants everyone who’s not legally blind to pick up on. It’s the unremarkable ones that are harder to read or easier to ignore, and I assume that whichever it is, they’ve chosen to be that way and I respect them for that.
We look at people’s faces and we look into their eyes, listen to what they say and how they say it. And then we kind of mirror each other back and forth. Smile for smile, frown for frown. I don’t really care about what you’re wearing or the length of your hair or the fact that you may have sixteen rings in your left eyebrow.
But I do care very deeply about how we choose to make each other feel. And if you think that isn’t something that happens immediately upon meeting, you are deluding yourself.