Meeting People

The beginning of the fall semester is upon us. We will all be meeting a lot of new people. When we meet people, nonverbal communication plays a major role in shaping first impressions. Not only the smile, the handshake, the eye contact and the tone of voice, but also what we wear, how close we stand together, and our posture. We draw conclusions about others without much analysis. Over the years, we’ve learned to read people. On average, women are better at this than men. We also talk. When we meet for the first time, we generally talk about superficial things, like the weather, sports, majors, and where we live. We try to find commonalities and as we find more and more commonalities, we tend to like the people we meet more and more. Birds of a feather, flock together. The old saying is true. No it’s not really news, but think about job interviews and why some people get hired and others don’t. It’s usually a matter of how people fit in, which is often a matter of first impressions, which is largely a matter of highlighting similarities, both nonverbally and verbally.

As you meet people this week, pay attention to the nonverbals, listen closely to what is said, and notice how you react. Is there a script, a well understood plot that you both know and follow? Did you like the person? Why or why not? How accurate do you think your first impressions are? When you see them again later, try to find out. Were you trying to impress the other person? What did you say or do to try to make a good first impression? How much did you reveal about yourself? How much did the other person tell you about themselves? As you meet people online, consider how meeting people in the online world differs from meeting them face-to-face.

Welcome to the class. Have a great semester.

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