Do your children protest when you talk about making a good impression?
Do they believe that walking around with their heads in electronic devices while chewing gum doesn’t matter?
Do they wonder why any of this is important?
Never fear, it’s pretty normal. Let’s show them how kick it up a notch.
Today’s students need all the advantages they can get. Good grades, extracurricular activities, community service and sports will all help them get into the college of their choice. But consider that research at Carnegie Institute of Technology, Harvard and Stanford finds that 85% of a person’s financial success is dependent on social skills—and only 15% is due to technical knowledge.
Think about the young people who impress you. They really don’t have to be the smartest, the prettiest or the most talented–they are the most respectful and confident. That’s about it. Here are a few tips for helping your children convey these two essential qualities. Pick two or three to start, and add as your child becomes more proficient.
- Look up. We spend a lot of time looking down at our phones and other devices in our laps and it’s natural to revert to the lap-glance. Looking up helps establish eye contact and conveys confidence.
- Have a great handshake. No one will ever tell you that the way you shake hands is not important. It again conveys confidence and respect. A firm grip, eye contact and a smile are essentials.
- Grow an inch. Not literally, of course. But standing up or sitting straight gives you the appearance of height—and confidence. You’ll know you are straight enough if you feel like you’ve grown an inch.
- “Tell me about……..”. Remember these three words—they are the best conversation starters anyone will ever have. Tell me about your school, your family, your hobbies, your favorite sport—the options are endless and will enable you to carry on a conversation with anyone.
- The “magic words” are not just for kindergarten. “Please” and “Thank you” go a long way towards making you memorable—in all the right ways.
- Practice kindness. Open a door. Step to the side in a crowd. Keep your voice down. It shows respect, genuine interest and kindness. And you will be respected and liked in return.
The good news is that most of this is common sense. Most of the time children and young adults balk at suggestions about first impressions because they lack the self-confidence to pull it off. But all of their lives, they’ve been taught to use the magic words and to show kindness. The other suggestions are easily taught and practiced. Practice conversation at the dinner table with “Tell me about”. A handshake is easily taught and includes looking up and growing an inch. With just a little practice your child can gain the confidence needed to make that great impression—and be confident doing it.