Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First impressions.

Is there anything more nerve-racking than meeting lots of new people and trying to make a good first impression? I know you're supposed to "be yourself," but on the other hand, there is the idea (as Thomas S. Monson talks about) of being "your best self." That BEST self is hard to find. What is my best self like? Awesome, of course. But how do I let the awesomeness out?

In my mind, the ideal first impression says something like the following:

"Hey! I'm personable and interested enough to engage in long conversation with you, but I won't obnoxiously follow you around for the remaining duration of this party. I'm outgoing but not an attention whore. I'm surprising and witty enough to make you laugh, but not so edgy that I make you uncomfortable. I'm well-dressed, but not vain. I'm tactful but not calculating. I have unique and quirky interests, but the music from Mario Kart Wii is NOT on my iPod."

How absurd. So much to pay attention to. So much to worry about. See, I'm writing about this because I have recently moved into a new area (I'm sure this is also the case for many of you readers who are just starting your semester here at BYU), and I'm fascinated by how much effort it takes to be social (though, perhaps I am simply out of practice since I have not been a single, socially-active guy for the past fourteen months or so).

At any rate, here are some tips for those of you who are, for some crazy reason, looking to a Chris Wei blog for advice.
  1. After you learn someone's name, find excuses to repeat it out loud a few times in the conversation. You will remember it better.
  2. After someone learns your name, and while they're still nearby, introduce yourself to several other people loudly enough so that the one who just learned your name has audible confirmation of the name they're guessing that they remembered correctly.
  3. Ask questions, and be interested in the other person (but don't interrogate). Say just barely enough about yourself to be memorable - but remember, the way you relate and react to the other person's stories is even more memorable than your story of That Supposedly-Awesome Thing You Did This Summer.
  4. It is possible to laugh at people's bad jokes without being fake. After all, I am sure you've had instances where people laughed at your bad jokes without being fake. Is it because they had bad senses of humor? Not necessarily; maybe they were just genuinely interested in you as a human being, and when you attempted to make a joke, they subconsciously recognized your endeavor and applauded it by laughter, without even thinking. Perhaps this is difficult for you; in this case, don't force it - forced laughter is usually obvious. Instead, try banter: respond to bad jokes with better jokes, ones that allow the original joker to redeem his or herself. It's a win-win; their misfired humor has become a part of an amusing back-and-forth, and your humor has an opportunity to shine.
  5. Ask unique get-to-know-you questions. Yes, it's good to know where people are from and what their major is and all of that generic stuff. But maybe you can start a conversation with something more spontaneous. Examples include "you share your first name with many famous people; which are you most proud of?" or "what is your least favorite thing about monkeys?"
I could go on, but I'm leaving the rest to you. I am sure y'all are more qualified than I, anyway. Go meet people! Godspeed!
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