Saturday, August 30, 2014

Making first impressions as an Expat

It is time to go back to school soon. Expat children often need to begin a new school in a foreign place at this time of year. Although this is a very enriching experience, it is not always easy to start all over again time and time again. You also realize how important first impressions are.

Did you know that a Princeton University study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make judgments about a person based on their facial appearance. Judgments - on measures of attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggressiveness - made within this span of time were not significantly different than those made without time constraints. In fact, confidence for some judgments actually decreased with greater exposure time.

With the amount of time Expats spend having and creating first impressions, this should be something we talk to our kids about. Imagine one-tenth of a second when you are in a crowded airport, one-tenth of a second as you enter your new school, one-tenth of a second as you meet your new neighbors.

The researchers found that attractiveness and trustworthiness are the qualities we judge most quickly.
As a global family how important is the trustworthiness in your family? How can you model this so your child really understands what it looks like or feel like? How can you get a feeling of trustworthiness show in your face or manners?

A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that both clothing style and posture played a role in initial perceptions. The tone and tenor of your voice also plays a significant role in determining what kind of first impression you make on others.

Did you know that your tone of voice is what people use to judge trustworthiness, aggressiveness and warmth?

Often expat children are dealing with a second or a third language and perhaps they are shy about their language ability in their non-native tongue. How does your child project his or her voice in the new language? They might not have master the new language yet, but they can master the non-language image of ‘posture’. Have you worked on your child’s knowledge of how important posture is in first impressions?

And remember: Expat parenting is about teaching and modeling. As parents of global nomads, we must think how we can model ‘first impressions’ so our children not only understand the concept but see us in action.

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