Oct 7th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

The Important Initial Approach

Sometimes difficult and challenging, approaching persons to create an opening for a new friendship can be intimidating for most of us seniors.  We were at an occasion recently in which we knew most of the guests.  There were, however, a pair of couples that we had not met before.  I took the initiative to approach the senior male of one couple and was quickly and summarily rebuffed.  That doesn’t happen very often.  I am, by nature, outgoing, conversational and friendly.  Clearly none of of those attributes was well received.

Rather quickly I retreated.  There were some lessons in that encounter.  One of the mistakes I made was to place my hand on the man’s shoulder in an effort to establish a bond.  That was likely a turn off for him.  Some people are very clear about their personal space, and do not want it to be invaded by anyone.

Lessons for Social Interaction

Lesson #1:  Allow a comfortable distance physically between you and another person you do not know, have not previously met.

Lesson #2: Test the ground. Observe the person from a distance before approaching him/her.  Is he/she naturally at ease or appear to be stiff and uncomfortable.  If the latter, leave it alone this time.  Try on another occasion.

Lesson #3: Watch his/her interactions with others.  If isolation appears to be preferred, grant that and move away.

Lesson #4;  If he/she is engaged in a conversation, do not invade his/her circle.

Lesson # 5:  Watch for signals of welcome to others.  If none are given, step away and find other conversational partners.

If there are no signals of warmth, invitation, or recognition, drop the matter of getting acquainted.  You do not have to know everyone in the room and you are not the official greeter.  Therefore, leave well enough alone.  Do not make it a challenge to take on every one’s peculiarities.

There may be another occasion to become acquainted with people you do not know, especially if you frequent the same social circles over time.  Keep your doors open, and learn the lessons just outlined for appropriate social interaction.

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