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For a few years now, I have been thinking about taking part in a triathlon. Unfortunately, there is one big problem: I can’t swim. Actually, it’s not true to say that I can’t swim at all, but I’m nowhere near good enough to take part in a competition.

Earlier this year, I decided to join a sports club in Gifu and see if I could learn to swim properly. I started going to the pool two or three times a week, but I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Other people seemed to be using much less energy than me and still going much faster.

One night, I noticed a guy swimming two lanes over from me. Even under the water, I could see that his stomach was quite big, and he certainly didn’t have a swimmer’s body. I soon realized, however, that he was much faster than me, and I started to feel really depressed and think about giving up. “If I can’t even beat a guy like that, ” I thought, “there is not much point in carrying on.”

I didn’t give up, though, and a few days later, I started talking to a woman and a man who I had often seen swimming together. We became quite friendly, and they offered to teach me how to swim. Both of them were really kind, and they were very good teachers. Over just a couple of months, I got a lot faster, and I also learned how to swim much more efficiently.

Last week, they were giving me some tips as usual, and I suddenly noticed the big guy swimming in the next lane. Now I bet most of you are thinking that you know how this ends, but I’m guessing that you probably have the wrong idea, so please keep reading.

When my two teachers saw the big guy, they called him over. They said to me, “This guy is the best teacher in the club. Let’s ask him to watch you and give you some advice.” To be honest, I really thought they were joking, and I was quite shocked. I thought it was very rude of them to make jokes about him.

Of course, it turned out that they weren’t joking at all. The man used to be a competitive swimmer, and he was much better than all of us. Even my teachers were listening to everything he said and asking him for advice themselves. In just 15 minutes with him, my style improved more than it had done over the previous month.

The point of this story is that the old saying is true: you should not judge a book by its cover. When I saw that guy for the first time, I never imagined for a minute that he could be an athlete. After I watched him closely, however, I realized that even if I train hard for five years, I will probably never be as good as he is.

Anyway, this experience made me wonder if any of you have ever made a mistake like mine and misjudged someone based on the way he or she looked.

Look forward to hearing your stories.

このブログは英語学習者のためのものです。レベルの高い人もいれば、初心者もいますので、自分のレベルや学習経験を気にする必要はありません。「いつもコメントを書いている人は仲間みたいだから参加しにくい」と思う方もいるかもしれませんが、勇気を出してコメントを書いてみてください。必ず温かく迎えてもらえます。多くのコメントは英語で書かれていますが、もちろん日本語もOKですし、英語と日本語を混ぜて書いても大丈夫です。言いたいことが言えないときは、How do you say 「〜」in English? と聞けば、きっとだれかが教えてくれると思います。私のエントリー、または他のメンバーのコメントの中に分からないところがあったら、「”…”はどういう意味ですか?」と遠慮なく聞いてください。このブログで使われているフレーズや表現をたくさん吸収すると、より自然な英語に近づけることができますよ!

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22 Comments

  1. Fumie on Tuesday June 11th, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    It’s an interesting topic. I often misjudged someone by their looks and then they turned out to be quite nice people after I got to know them.

    Your story reminds me of Susan Boyle. As you know, when she got on the stage nobody imagined by her sloppy looks that she had such a great voice but after she started singing, everyone was mesmerized with her voice!

    The man who lives back of our house looks like Yankee(Yankee means different in Japanese maybe “rogue” is similar meaning.) His daughter and my son used to be in a same class. I hadn’t talked to him because he looked scary. But one day at night around 10:00, he came to our door with his daughter and apologiszed sincerely that she forgot to bring my son’s Renrakucho(corresponding notebook) during the day. I noticed that he had a sweet smile without sunglasses. My son was absent on that day. Student who lives close to one who is absent, supposed to bring Renrakucho to absentee to tell them homeworks and other matters.

    David, now you became a better swimmer, are you going to take part in triathlon?
    You and I are about the same age but my physical strength is nowhere near yours. My physical strength deterionrated sharply in these couple of years. I took the test to measure physical strength at the sport festival several years ago. The result showed that it was about the level of people in their twenties. I was quite Genki until a few years ago! (sigh)



  2. Anne on Tuesday June 11th, 2013 at 05:45 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your help. I got it. I’m afraid I’ve been using this way unconsciously.

    I heard that you talked about the triathlon before, and now your dream is becoming true,right? That’s nice!

    As for this week’s topic, I tend to hesitate to talk with people who are very positive or Genki, so I guess this could happen, but I can’t think of my story now. Let me share my experience later.

    Hi Fumie,
    >Your story reminds me of Susan Boyle. —Yes, me too!



  3. Biwa on Tuesday June 11th, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I can’t believe how stupid I am!
    From the title, I thought we were going to share ideas about how to choose good books! To tell the truth, I was thinking “Is David going to introduce us a book about swimming???” until I finally came to the last paragraph. Ah-, now I see!

    Anyway, I’m quite bad at judging things or people at first sight. For example, when I meet mothers that I don’t really know at a school meeting or something, I can’t tell whether she is an ordinary women or a rather hard-to-deal type by the way she looks. However, after talking with her for a while, sometimes I start regretting that I should have kept away from her and talked with someone else. I think eight or nine out of ten of my friends would say they can tell a person to beware of, but I just can’t! Maybe it’s rather a problem of the ability of gathering information!

    Well, I would never say I like talking with complicated women, but at the same time, I’m actually interested in the gaps between the appearances and charaters or abilities that most people have.



  4. Anne on Wednesday June 12th, 2013 at 05:55 AM

    correction:
    >I tend to hesitate to talk with people who are very positive or Genki
    —I tend to hesitate to talk with people who are talkative and say something straightforward.

    Hi Biwa,
    >I thought we were going to share ideas about how to choose good books!—I had the same misunderstanding as you did when I read the title! I guess we were on the same page.



  5. Akira on Wednesday June 12th, 2013 at 06:01 AM

    Hello everyone and hello David, I’m Akira.
    It’s my first comment on this blog.

    I’m often said by friends, ‘you looked scary and I didn’t think I could get on well with you when I saw you first, but you’re calm and friendly actually’. I think that’s because I’m a bit taller than normal in Japan and don’t often smile apart from when talking someone. I quite often misjudge people as well though.
    As far as I’m concerned you shouldn’t judge someone by his/her looks as much as you can otherwise you will miss oportunity to meet them and to learn sth from them.



  6. Biwa on Wednesday June 12th, 2013 at 08:22 AM

    Hi Akira,

    Nice to have you with us.

    >you shouldn’t judge someone by his/her looks as much as you can otherwise you will miss oportunity to meet them and to learn sth from them.

    I totally agree!

    By the way, I’ve been thinking if I had a good case of misjudging a person (in the real sense of the saying), but I notice that it’s quite hard!
    I do have friends who have unexpected features, like an athlete-type friend happened to be a very good needle-worker or a friend who always talks in a low voice is a very good singer, but I guess it’s often the case that people have many sides, and of course, those features aren’t written on their faces nor bodies. Anyway, I’ll continue thinking!



  7. YU on Wednesday June 12th, 2013 at 09:50 AM

    Hi Akira,

    Nice to have you with us!

    Hi David and everyone,

    Yesterday was my birthday, but I’ve not been feeling well since last weekend.

    Well, as for this topic, it is true that you should not judge a book by its cover, but it is also true that it is not always the case. It sometimes happens that peoples’ way or looking really tell you their personalities, so I think it would be safer not to have prejudices, but not too much to believe people you meet for the first time.

    When my husband talked with me for the first time, he thought that I acted important for Japanese, and he didn’t like me very much. Later he learned that I was 8 years older than him, but he still thinks that I’m a bit overconfident even now. I think he has an eye for people.

    My first boyfriend was a friend from my university.
    My first impression of him was very bad. He was very blunt in his behavior, so I didn’t like him very much and his male friends who were kind to me looked much more attractive to me, but soon I realized his friends were just kind to all girls around them, and suddenly my first boyfriend looked more attractive. I never expected that my first boyfriend would become my first boyfriend when I met him for the first time.

    Well, I think those who look nice, kind have advantages because people are less cautious of them, but later, their impressions tend to become worse as peoples’ first impressions of them are often better than they really are. In contrast, those who look unkind have disadvantages at the start, but their impressions just go up because their first impressions are often much worse than they really are.



  8. I Love Nutella on Wednesday June 12th, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I often saw a man who always rode on the old bicycle. He wore sandals even in winter. I guess he had athlete’s foot. Actually, he was the man who I don’t really close to. One day, my husband approached and talked to him. I was shocked. They knew each other. My husband told me he is the director at a large listed company.

    When I studied the communication theory at university, I discussed with my classmates how our looks affect people on first meeting. From discussion we concluded we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Even some students pointed out we should care how we look, including how we talk and how we act. I agree with it. You don’t need to look like an announcer. But I would be neat and tidy at least, when I am with people.



  9. amo on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    How’s the weather treating you? I took a time off in lieu today. It wasn’t great weather for going out so I stayed home and did some house work. Anyway, it’s nice to take a day off on weekdays 🙂

    As for the topic, I see what you mean and I had a similar experience like yours. In 2009, I went to the Philippines with some co-workers as a company trip. I didn’t know that one of my co-workers was a good swimmer until then. You know, she was a bit chubby so I had never thought that she could swim like a fish.

    Hi Akira,

    Welcome to the blog, and look forward to your next comment.

    Hi YU,

    Happy belated birthday 🙂
    Hope you are feeling better now.

    Hi Biwa and Anne,

    >I thought we were going to share ideas about how to choose good books!—I had the same misunderstanding as you did when I read the title! I guess we were on the same page.
    Really?! It was easy for me to guess what was going to happen in his story, so I couldn’t wait to read the part where the big guy turned out to be an ex-competitive swimmer. I believe that David is a good story teller so I giggled when I read the story 🙂 I wish I could tell a story like him 🙁

    Good night and sleep tight Zzzzz,
    amo



  10. Anne on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 07:24 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I understand that you should not judge a book by its cover, but it’s true that you could be judged by your cover. People tend to judge others by their outfits, facial features, their shape and even the color of their faces.

    This reminds me of the job hunting in Japan; as you know, most university students in Japan put on the same kind of suit called “リクルートスーツ(recruit suit? I guess this is Japanese English.)when they have a job interview. This means that students are judged by their cover at the job interview from the personnel division staff, and student put on them because they feel safe. It helps students take(reduce?) pressure of worrying about their appearance for an interviewee,right? I wonder if students in foreign countries put on this kind of suit.

    By the way, I have a friend whom I first met about twenty years ago. When I first met her, I didn’t want to be involved with her because her words were always sarcastic and straightforward. She looked scary, but later I found her to be very gentle.

    Hi Akira,
    Nice to have you with us!

    Hi YU,
    Happy belated birthday♪
    How are you feeling now? Hope you are getting better.

    Hi amo,
    >It was easy for me to guess what was going to happen in his story—-I just jumped into conclusion at the photo of the entry!



  11. Anne on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 07:45 AM

    it’s me again.
    “just jumped into conclusion” should be “just jumped into a conclusion.”



  12. Biwa on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 08:15 AM

    Hi Anne and everyone,

    >I wonder if students in foreign countries put on this kind of suit.

    I’d like to know that, too!

    This kind of discussion reminds me of the best-selling book a couple of months ago called “人は見た目が9割”. I haven’t read it, but it’s quite easy to guess what was written. (Or am I judging by the cover/title already?)
    Anyway, reading some of the reviews on the Amazon site, the whole idea of the book seems to be based on a study about verbal and non-verbal communication. It says that, at first sight, people judge other people by their appearances or facial expressions mostly (55%), next, the tone or the loudness of the voices (38%), and the least, the content of speaches (7%).

    I’m not sure about the authenticity of the data, but I do feel that people receive many other information when talking with someone besides the content itself.

    Hi Anne and amo,

    >I just jumped into conclusion at the photo of the entry!

    Me, too! And that means we do rely on visual information at the beginning, doesn’t it!

    >so I couldn’t wait to read the part where the big guy turned out to be an ex-competitive swimmer

    I like this sentence of yours, amo! I hope I can write like you next time.

    Hi YU,

    A belated Happy Birthday♪♪♪
    I hope you’re feeling better today.



  13. YU on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 09:24 AM

    Hi amo, Anne, and Biwa,

    Thank you for your kind messages, I’m feeling better today.

    Hi Anne,

    > It helps students take(reduce?) pressure of worrying about their appearance for an interviewee,right?

    It actually helps interviewers see who is beautiful and who is not, too. Don’t you think so?
    It’s the same system as a beauty competition like “Miss OO contest”! All contestants have to wear the same bathing suit, don’t they?



  14. Biwa on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Hi YU,

    >It actually helps interviewers see who is beautiful and who is not, too. Don’t you think so?

    LOL! You have a point!
    As David said before, some companies hire young girls that would make perfect wives for their men employees, maybe those navy suits were created by those companies. It’s also well known that in Korea, lots of people have cosmetic surgery after graduating college. I guess this is another evidence of people judging people by their appearances.



  15. David on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Hi YU,

    Happy birthday! I hope you had a nice day even though you were feeling ill.

    Hi Akira,

    Are you Akira from Kendai?

    Hi Anne,

    I think “job-hunting” suits are so common because almost everyone in Japan wears uniforms. The word “uniform” just means “all the same,” and I think that is seen as a desirable thing in this country. It’s difficult to make comparisons with other countries, because the whole system of looking for and finding jobs is completely different.



  16. YU on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 05:19 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your message!

    Hi everyone,

    I’ve seen an interesting 合コン experiment on TV. Five young men and five young women wearing masks met at Izakaya and chatted for half an hour, and then chose the man/woman they liked the most.

    After that, they took off their masks and saw everyones’ faces for the first time. Then they chatted for 30 minutes and chose their favorites again.

    As a result, most of them chose a different person from the first time and the second time.
    At the first choice, the not really good looking man/woman was the most popular, but at the second time, the best looking man/woman among five was chosen as the most popular man/woman.

    This experiment tells you that people judge other people by their appearances, but I hope it is only seen especially among young people….



  17. YU on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 09:10 PM

    corrections ;

    > Then they chatted for 30 minutes and chose their favorites again.

    They chatted for another 30 minutes…

    > As a result, most of them chose a different person from the first time and the second time.

    …chose a different person between the first time and the second time



  18. Fumie on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 09:14 PM

    Hi YU,

    ♪Belated happy birthday.♪
    I hope you will get better soon.
    I didn’t see the TV program you mentioned but it seems interesting.

    Hi Akira,

    Nice to have you with us!



  19. Anne on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 09:51 PM

    Hi David,

    >”job-hunting” suits.— I see. Thank you for your help.

    >the whole system of looking for and finding jobs is completely different.—I understand that there are lots of people who change their jobs, however, what’s about newly graduates? I guess students put on neat suits or outfits to look nice,right?

    Hi YU and Biwa,
    >It actually helps interviewers see who is beautiful and who is not, too. —Really? I had a completely opposite idea. I thought it helped interviewers to focus on the interview itself.
    By the way, I read the book(人は見た目が9割),too. Example cases that both of you mentioned are interesting.



  20. amo on Thursday June 13th, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Hi Anne,

    >I wonder if students in foreign countries put on this kind of suit.

    I like to watch foreign TV dramas and movies. I sometimes came across the scenes where someone wearing dark color suits who took a job interview. I remember thinking to myself, “They(foreign people) wear job-hunting suits(リクルートスーツ), too!!.”

    Hi Biwa,

    >I like this sentence of yours, amo! I hope I can write like you next time.

    Your kind words made my day 🙂

    amo



  21. Biwa on Friday June 14th, 2013 at 07:52 AM

    Hi YU and everyone,

    >This experiment tells you that people judge other people by their appearances, but I hope it is only seen especially among young people….

    Your story reminds me of another TV program I’ve seen before. It featured some of the most popular hostesses and geishas who work in very exclusive clubs or bars. What made them so popular was not their beauty (of course they’re not ugly, though) but their abilities to listen to what their guests say and make them feel comfortable. They were also very good at entertaining guests, but they never talked what they shouldn’t, so they were trusted by the guests. Since those bars and clubs are for very rich people, I guess real successful people know well that the old saying is true.

    By the way, how’s the weather at your place? I live in Kanagawa, and it’s been raining all week! I’m already sick of this rainy season. 🙁



  22. Anne on Friday June 14th, 2013 at 08:09 AM

    Hi Biwa,
    >it’s been raining all week!—Oh, really? I live in Nagoya, and it’s been fine this week. The temperature yesterday was over 35℃! It was hot and humid.
    I can’t believe it’s in the midst of the rainy season. According to the weather forecast, it is supposed to rain late in the afternoon. Anyway, it will be good for crops,right?



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