Well, I’m a married man now. It’s a very exciting time in my life, and I’m happy to say that things have gotten better since the wedding day. But they haven’t gotten easier.

 

Anyway, enough about wedding talk. Today I’d like to share with you a thought that’s an extension of my “gaining recognition through your work” post. Many people I know have a difficult time meeting new people and finding their niche in a new group. This is especially important when you get a new job, when a new semester begins, or when your relationship progresses into a more personal mode, and you need to fit in with his/her friends and/or family.

 

I’d like to begin this with my core belief in social matters. Specifics are not important.

Let me repeat that.

Specifics are NOT important.

 

There is a right way and a wrong way to approach a potential meeting, which ironically matches with analyzing a failed meeting. Generally, the wrong perspective on each is on a microscopic level, where each word, look, action, and article of clothing is scrutinized. Conversely, the right perspective on each is a systematic process, where the symbols and suggestions are more important than specifics. We’ll look into each of these approaches, and then discuss some overlap area.

 

Men tend to understand the physical side of this: looks can be quite varied, as long as they suggest good personal care. When a woman walks in the room who has taken care of herself, she is instantly noticed by the men and women around her. This responsive behavior plays a key role on the introduction process for both sexes: dressing well when meeting a significant other’s parents can go for miles. They will not remember what color shirt you wore or if your shoes matched your hair color, but they will remember the sense of responsibility that comes from a commitment to being well groomed. Regardless of the situation, a system of making each part of your appearance match the desired role is key to fitting in when meeting new people.

 

Women, on the other hand, tend to have better control over the actions in a meeting. Subconsciously, women seem to snap into this mode where they get, well, kinda silly. It’s really strange to think about from a man’s perspective, but you may have noticed this when your female friend (or sister) switches from quiet and reserved to loud and expressive when new people are present. And it’s not like they have the same one-liner or catch-phrase that attracts people to them. Some men who are very good at this are listed as confidence; while confidence is not a measurable (or even directly observable) trait, the ability to react to a situation rather than try to directly control a situation generates that desire that draw other people to you.

 

With that idea of reacting to a situation in mind, there is a slight overlap with the right and wrong methods that I have come to appreciate. There’s an old saying when it comes to presentations: “If there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it.” The key idea present in this gem of a statement is to comment or otherwise bring light to any strange occurrence that is happening. The goal is to have a systematic response to any issue on a level that specifies the situation. For example, I had a presentation once where everyone happened to wear a nice button-up black shirt to a presentation, while mine was blue. Right at the start of the presentation, we introduced ourselves and I made a dramatic look at everyone’s shirt and said “I guess I missed the memo about the shirts.” It’s a short and seemingly stupid quirk, but the significance hit hard. First, I lost any prior nervousness because of the audience’s laugh. Secondly, I was remembered by the viewers more than the other presenters, and my topics were well listened to (there were some wonderful questions at the end).

 

A word of caution: don’t go elephant hunting. People can see when too much effort is put into being funny.

 

I wish you great success and confidence in meeting new people, and don’t be afraid to fail sometimes. Failing is part of the system too.

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~ by MichaelStaudenmeir on September 29, 2011.

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