Saturday, January 28, 2017


     I’ve written about first impressions before. As we are living in a new community and meeting new people weekly, I am reminded, however, about how first impressions can be spot on or completely off. When there aren’t children in common, or if you don’t have a pet to walk so neighbors see you, it is more difficult to meet people. We have joined some organizations where we meet a new crop of people monthly. It makes me think about the thoughts that cross my mind when I walk away. What do you hear yourself say when you meet someone new? Here are a few I’ve said more than once:

“Wow! What a fascinating person!”
“She’s really full of herself.”
“He’s so easy to talk to.”
“Omg. She never shuts up.”
“What a nice guy.”
“She’s one of those.”
“They make me tired.”

      What do you suppose people say about you when they walk away? Do you think they separate you from your spouse? We often find that we really like one of the couple but could not endure the other. I’ve said, “Could we just invite the husbands?” 

     Last night, we were out with some new people. He was especially charming. Why? He looks you right in the eye when he speaks. He is a wonderful listener. He smiles sincerely. He is interested in what you have to say. The other side of the story, however, gave me pause. Apparently, he is hard of hearing. The husband of the other couple is also, according to his wife, having some hearing issues. After an hilarious conversation among the six of us about husbands and their “selective hearing,” I realized that sometimes when (particularly in our age bracket) people don’t respond or respond in a strange way that maybe they didn’t hear what I said. Imagine being at a table with six people and only hearing a portion of the conversation. How could you respond? Losing our hearing is something I always considered an “old” person’s issue. Now I realize that I fall into that category, so I need to have some empathy.

     As someone who focuses intently on the other person’s words and often becomes excited about what she hears, I have to remind myself of certain things. Women are most guilty, I’ve found, of interrupting, not to be rude, but to share their enthusiasm. This interruption is rude, no matter what the motivation, and others might think you aren’t listening, even though you are. I remind myself to do the following:

-listen to the entire sentence and not formulate a response prematurely
-do not interrupt
-respond to what that person is saying not to how that is about me
-ask questions if the subject interests me before inserting my own take on it
                       -reserve my personal opinion about things for later when I know the person better

      Sometimes people get so excited about a topic, they have to interject their opinion on every topic. Sometimes, again for older people, we interrupt because we’re afraid of forgetting the thought. Sometimes, we are so enthused about the subject, we want to share our experience before digesting theirs. All of these reactions leave the person you’ve just met with the impression that you are all about you and you really don’t care about what they have to say. 
Although, narcissism is apparently, “In,” it does not make for a healthy first impression.

     I have learned that I can’t be friends with people who constantly interrupt. I can’t be bothered with people who constantly turn the conversation to themselves, and I get most excited about people who listen and lift up, not one-up.