How to Be When Meeting New People

By: Mary Eden Rall – 8th Grade: Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School

”Peopling” is a skill we all struggle with, says Sheree Bodiford, Ph.D. Teenagers often struggle to talk to new people because of their own vulnerabilities. However, studies show that people who are real and vulnerable are easier to meet because they´re relatable. We’re less likely to approach someone who seems perfect because of fear of judgment. Intimidating, unrelatable people make us feel shy and it’s hard to be comfortable around them. We forget most people have good intentions and that we do, too. Dr. Bodiford says we should “beat up the shy monster and remember that you are very likable.”

Dr. Bodiford is a psychologist at River Region Psychiatry Associates in Montgomery, Alabama. She sees teenagers with questions about likeability. How do you make a good first impression and establish and keep friends? Dr. Bodiford says likeability in new friendships isn’t so hard. Often, appearance and competence are less important. Actually, being non-competitive shows vulnerability and relatability. Everyone struggles. Being vulnerable helps build trust because vulnerability is relatable.

How to Be When Meeting New People 1

Likeability is about making a good first impression. Showing flaws helps to develop trust. When you meet someone new, making eye contact and asking meaningful, appropriate questions will make them feel special. Mirroring is copying someone’s traits and gestures. If your new friend nods while talking, doing the same will make them comfortable. Mirroring shows you noticed. Also, making mental notes about others’ interests so that you can bring up those interests later in conversation shows you care.

Boundaries affect likeability. We want new friends to trust us and we feel welcomed by respectful personal boundaries. As Dr. Bodiford explains, “Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that makes people like you.” Don’t be standoffish; instead, stand close enough so they know you’re actively listening. Setting positive boundaries is important. Not gossiping is a positive boundary that affects how people feel about you. If you speak negatively with your friends, others might expect the same instead of trusting your positive boundary of not gossiping.

Likability is not determined by competency. Showing vulnerability and owning mistakes helps develop trust and makes people want to come back. Positive first impressions matter. Respectful boundaries and safe conversations make others want to come back for more. When fear of judgment makes talk difficult, we have to remember that most humans have good intentions and are likable. ¨You are also very likable,” reminds Dr. Bodiford.

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