Why Do We Care What Strangers Think Of Us?

Public speaking is a common fear. People, it seems, are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of a large audience, and losing public approval.

Why should that be? If someone speaks in front of a large group of strangers, why should their reaction matter? Setting aside an instance, say, like a job interview, where a stranger’s impression of you has something to do with your future, what difference should it make whether complete strangers, who we have never met before and will never see again, should like or approve of us?

Why do we care what strangers think of us?

Related questions: Where do our fears come from? When is embarrassment a good thing? Why do we behave differently alone or in large groups?

2 thoughts on “Why Do We Care What Strangers Think Of Us?”

  1. Integrity is a core value of mine. I want to be known as a fun, trustworthy, and smart guy. I want to be known as someone who celebrates the good successes of others. I also want to be thought of – for real reasons – as someone who’s there for those in need.

    I care what strangers think of me for the same reason I care about what friends, family, and colleagues think of me. I want to present the same (and best) self to whomever comes into contact with me.

    In fact, I can think of reasons why I’d care why I’d care more about what strangers think of me. Those who already know the real Michael Dahl are not going to change how they think of me because of one blunder here or there. And if I do something terribly inconsistent or even potentially character damaging, repentance is easier with those who know the real me. If I’ve done my best to live with integrity, those who know me will hopefully know my contrition is real.

    With strangers, first impressions mean a lot. So, a blunder, an inconsistency, a really bad mistake can have a lasting impression that doesn’t represent who I really am.

    Which brings me to the deeper reason to care about what strangers think of me: someday they may not be strangers.

  2. I seem to care a great deal about what others think. Prehaps it’s a need for approval. Maybe, it comes from my upbring.
    If as childen we get alot of attention, and our self esteem is high, it is not as necessary. But on the other hand, self esteem is low, the approval of others is very important.

    In the case of strangers. You never know what influence they may have in your future contacts. What opinion they may form about you and share with another is completely unknown. So what they think is important. I wouldn’t want them to say anything negative about what I said, did, or how even how I looked or behaved.

    So, with that being said. There is a tremendous fear that comes from my childhood regarding acceptance, and how I behave around others.

    Thats a good reason not to drink or use drugs that would influence my choices. (On the less inhibited side.) I would not want to imbarass myself, or someone else for that matter.

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