When you first meet a new dog or cat, what is the first thing you do? You don’t bowl them over. You pause, extend your hand, and allow them to smell you. It’s a sign of offering, a sign that you don’t mean any harm. And the animal’s reaction answers back. Nosing their head under your hand for a wanted scritch, a gentle lick to say hello, or (hello, some of you cats) a leisurely turning away to say ok, you’re not a threat, back to my sunbathing.
When we meet another person for the first time, this same thing happens. (Perhaps without the licking or scritching.) There is a watching, a listening. Feeling each other out to see if this is a new friend, a new colleague, a new connection.
That last word is key. In our quest to make connections, we often get nervous about how we present ourselves. And we bowl the other person over. I know I do that a lot. So the next time you feel that coming on, put yourself in my niece Sydney’s place and think of the other person as the fawn she’s meeting. Listen, respond, and take time to breathe – you might have a better sense of who this new person is to you.