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Walking into a favorite department store with one’s best friend in search of a brand new pick-me up mood lipstick, two pair of eyes immediately scan for the cosmetics department. Blocking the path? A multicolored colossal flower-print dress and flashy gold handbag furiously gesticulate within the sight line. All motor and visual motion abruptly stops. In a flash palpitations patter feverishly, saliva drips from the sides of the mouth and an overwhelming sense of panic develops. As The Dress moves closer, it is apparent... You don’t remember her name. You should know it, as introductions will need to be made. But at this moment, it has conveniently escaped. Introductions will need to be made. NOW WHAT?

Introductions are an important part of making new friendships and keeping them. There are times when introductions can be a challenge. One of the most embarrassing situations can be forgetting someone’s name. Regardless of age, it happens to everyone at one time or another. An introduction has to be made, memory fails, and suddenly a person’s name remains perched on the tip of the tongue. When this happens there are three ways to handle this:

Fess up! One can sincerely apologize and say to the person, “So very sorry for the absentminded moment, but I just forgot your name”. They may get miffed for the moment, but more often then not, they appreciate sincerity. Honesty pays and there was no running and hiding in the clothing rack to avoid saying hello! As you age, this begins to happen with increased frequency, so most people will be understanding, forgiving and may even laugh! ** (Caution: This will not work if it is a relative, child, spouse or close friend!)

Investigate! Is there someone nearby who may know who the person is? One can approach another person and simply ask, “Who is the person wearing the flowered muumuu?” This must be done quickly and discreetly but usually yields a positive result.

The Sting! This operation is a bit more complex and works on the principle that when a person meets someone, there will be mutual introductions. “Hi! We met at lunch last week. I’m Jamie, and this is my friend, Brett”. The logical response for person C is, “Yes, I remember. I’m Sam. It’s nice to see you again, Jamie, and a pleasure to meet you, Brett”. In a variation, Person A sends over Person B to introduce themselves hoping that person C will also reveal their name. Person B then reports back to person A.

To avoid forgetting an introduction, one can use memory tricks to help reinforce names. This is done by assigning a trait to the person such as Jerry has a big smile. Because Jerry and merry rhyme, the word association becomes Merry Jerry. Parents can teach and help build word associations for the children.

Whatever strategy one chooses to use, it is important to remember that people like to hear their names mentioned. Children can be taught to use the words ‘I’m sorry” or apologize for not remembering a name. That social skill is even more effective when made with eye contact! Role playing prior to a new social situation, where they are likely to meet new people, can help build confidence and increase the child’s level of comfort. Teaching children etiquette helps to prevent potentially awkward and uncomfortable situations. As we want children to meet success, we should prepare them (as best we can) for potential social mishaps and how to gracefully handle them.

OK… Now what were we talking about?

 
 
Once upon a time, a King and Queen took their daughter and son, the Princess and Prince, out to dinner at their favorite diner. Eating out was a special occasion, and the entire family partook in conversation about their days, favorite books and movies, and upcoming events. They genuinely looked to be enjoying the family time...

If that scenario occurred in the present, it would read more like this: Once upon a time, a King and Queen took their children, the Prince and Princess out to their favorite restaurant: The King's Lair Diner. As the family sat down to dinner, all of the members put their respective blackberries on the table beside their place settings. Every other minute, a beep would be heard, and someone would pick up the phone and furiously start typing away. Conversation was limited to texted responses- "R U going 2 finish ur ff?" "IDK. FULLLLLLLL."

With technological advances appearing on a daily basis, people have been able to communicate via email and/or texting. The formality of writing letters has been replaced with incorrect grammar and informal sentences. Emotions are very difficult to ascertain without an overabundance of emoticons. LOL! :) Cousin Jackie, who types with all capital letters, always seems to be yelling at me, while Aunt Sue does the 3-sentenced email that never seems to finish any thoughts.

Don't get me wrong; people can now communicate on a regular basis. Waiting until you have time to speak on the telephone to catch up on each other's lives is no longer an issue; a quick email or text to say "hi, I am thinking of you" is a great way to maintain relationships. Unfortunately, there is a negative side to the informality and ease that is now accompanied by email and texting... Children are not learning social skills.

Eye contact is so important for humans (in the United States). It is what separates us from other species, providing us with the ability to have intimate relationships with friends and family. If the phone is placed on the breakfast, lunch or dinner table, the underlying message reads that the relationship with inanimate objects is more important than that with people. By putting the phone away during the family dinner, the grownups make it clear that the half hour spent with the family is a very important time of day. You will no longer have to wonder about the unspoken message behind the text. Instead you can just "talk it out" and never have to wonder.

According to webmd.com, family dinners will not only help you become reacquainted with your children, but you and your family will become healthier individuals as a result. Seriously, the benefits keep adding up...

Modeling social skills for children by making eye contact with other people at dinner will serve to be a lifelong lesson: put down the phone and start conversing. You might learn some pretty amazing information about the person across the table... And who knows, you may actually really enjoy the company of your family...once again.