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manners MATTER First Impressions Karen La Corte is an etiquette and manners expert trained and certified by the Emily Post Institute in Vermont. She has been teaching etiquette and manners to children and adults for over thirty years. She is also a certified image and fashion consultant. Karen is happy to answer any personal eti- quette or image questions you may have by emailing her at BY KAREN LA CORTE A first impression is important because you don’t always get a second chance. It’s how you enter a room, your walk, how you sit or stand and of course, how you talk, including your tone. Having a good attitude, being aware of your body language and paying close attention to your appearance all play into making a good first impression. YOUR SMILE can win anyone over. Don’t ever underestimate it. It is the single most powerful thing you can do when meeting someone for the first time. A smile can make folks feel at ease and it makes you approachable. A smile is warm and inviting. Have you ever met someone for the first time and they didn’t smile? You probably weren’t really sure how to read them. I bet you weren’t even sure if you were going to like them! That being said, an artificial grin – one with width but no warmth – is just as unapproachable. EYE CONTACT is very important when meeting folks for the first time. Do you ever find yourself having a conversation with someone and you notice that they are paying attention to something else, their eyes are on the television or they are reading an email on their phone? It’s rude, disrespectful, and just plain annoying. Everyone wants to feel that what they have to say is important, so giving someone your undivided attention is good manners. Making eye contact holds a person’s attention and shows that you are interested in them. Maintaining that eye contact while you are conversing helps to win them over. The third most important thing in making a good first impression is the HANDSHAKE. A handshake is an expression of friendliness; it tells the other person that you are really glad to meet him or her, or that you are genuinely happy to see them. When you offer your hand in greeting, strive for a happy medium between a dead-fish grip and bone- crushing enthusiasm. Your handshake is as expressive of your personality as your clothes and your speech. Along with the handshake, you may want to smile and ask “How do you do?” or say “I’m pleased to meet you.” Because it might help to remember the name if you repeat it, you might ask, “How do you do, Miss Smith?” If you haven’t been formally introduced, introduce yourself by saying your name. Next, I would like to address ATTITUDE. All of us want to be liked and accepted. Considerateness, integrity, a sense of fair play, and a willingness to cooperate are qualities we value in one another. Our positive attitude and our knowledge of how to act in social situations is one of the determining factors in people’s reactions to us. Negativity or personal drama should be left at home. A person who is open- minded is able to respect the many differences that she finds in people. She is able to admit that the new way may be a better way than the old. She knows that if she closes her eyes to the viewpoint of others, she may be limiting her vision. The person who is able to get along well with others is the one who has discovered that her way of looking at things is not the only way. I heard a cute story years ago about opening your eyes to the viewpoints of others. Four people were in a barn and each one had a knothole to look through. One looked to the east, one to the west, one to the south, and one to the north. The person looking to the east saw the sun come up and said, “The whole world is nothing but sunrises.” The person looking to the west said, “You are wrong, the whole world is nothing but sunsets.” The person to the north, who could see nothing but a haystack, said, “You are both wrong, the entire world is nothing but hay.” The person looking to the south said, “I can’t understand how all of you can be so stupid. The world is nothing but bales of straw.” From their own viewpoints, each was right. But, obviously, each one’s viewpoint was limited by the size of the knothole and the direction in which each person was looking. Get on top of the barn, look in all directions, learn that your ideas may be right, but this does not necessarily make the ideas of others wrong. They may be seeing the same wide, wonderful world through different knotholes. Continued on page 83 74 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016