Category Archives for "General"

Jan 19

Tweak Your Life

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"The Biggest Trick in Life is Making it All Look Easy."
My husband, Eric, is a professional magician. Before you say anything, the answer is yes, he's tried many times to make me disappear, but that's not what this article is about. It's about watching the progression of a magic piece he's developing. The first time he showed it to me, I was impressed. It was surprising and beautiful at the same time. I thought he couldn't make it any better, and yet, he continues to work and improve it in tiny increments. Eric has shared his new effect with a few trusted magicians to get their feedback and suggestions. It's interesting to watch his work evolve, and I realize that's what sets an artist apart. Taking the time and effort to create something unique and interesting requires several adjustments.

Life is like that. Living up to our potential and doing our best means always looking for ways to improve ourselves. It's being open to constructive criticism and not being offended. We may find it hard to ask for help because we feel we're admitting defeat. The opposite is the reality. We're showing others that we want to grow and willing to take advice. Think about what you're involved with right now. Do you feel confident in your communication skills? Are you prepared for your Zoom meeting? What are you making for dinner? Seriously, what's for dinner? I'm running out of ideas.

Speaking of food, the right combination of seasonings can make a big difference when cooking a meal. It's trial and error until we find that perfect blend. I've ruined a few dinners when trying a new recipe. (Who knew that too much cheese could ever be a bad thing?) Learning a skill can be frustrating in the beginning. If you want to be proficient, you'll keep at it until it becomes a part of you. Once you have a strong foundation of your newly acquired talent, the attention to detail will hone your expertise.

The performers and artists I know are never satisfied with their work. I find that same drive in other professions as well. Are you the top salesperson in your company? Have you received an MVP award for your team? Do you have the Best Mom in the World coffee cup? Well, you don't have the last one, because my Mom has it.

The way to stay engaged in our lives is to strive for excellence. When you need some guidance, seek out a mentor. Talk to your family and friends and ask for support and encouragement when you doubt your abilities. There are resources on the internet where groups of like-minded people get together and brainstorm concepts. It's challenging to be innovative in a vacuum. We need to bounce off our thoughts and ideas to others. It could be a simple word or perception from another person that makes everything click. It's a fantastic feeling to have an epiphany and solve an issue you've been struggling with that brings your product or service to life.

The small things matter when it comes to presenting your work. Take the time to tweak and adjust. Practice your introduction before meeting with a potential client. Take note of what is and isn't working for you at a networking event. When planning a project, ask for feedback and recommendations from people you hold in high esteem. Develop the mindset that you're always evolving and creating for your audience. You never know who will be inspired and motivated by your example. The biggest trick is making it look easy. People may not recognize your hard work and hours of preparation, but they will appreciate the results.

I have to make a delicious dinner now before my husband tries once again to make me disappear.
Jan 12

To Find Success-Show Up!

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Success only happens when you show up."

Woody Allen said in an interview that he believed eighty percent of success is showing up. I've heard this over the years, and I know other people have said the same thing in one way or another. It seemed odd that this piece of advice was necessary. I mean, of course, you're supposed to show up for work, class, or an event. Why wouldn't you? If there were an emergency keeping you from your commitment, that would be understandable. I learned over the years that many people simply don't show up.

I talked to Jane Parmel, an excellent business coach, who like me, had been in the hospitality business for years. She said one of the reasons her company stood out was her reputation for showing up on time, being professional and personable. She was surprised to find that many vendors hired for events didn't bother to show up or even call to say there was a problem. Jane said this kind of absenteeism is so prevalent that she found herself having to take on other roles at the last minute.

One time she had to dress up as a clown for a children's party when the person they hired was a no show. "I'm having stage fright, and I feel ridiculous at the same time. I was so worried that I wouldn't be funny until my partner pointed out how silly I already looked." Luckily, the children were entertained, and the party was saved. This sense of responsibility is what cemented Jane's well-deserved notoriety.

I told Jane that many of the jobs I had happened because I showed up when no one else did. I was in college, trying to work out ways to make money when I was offered a job as a cocktail waitress. I was sitting in the club enjoying the music when the bartender came over to my table. He said, "I have a packed house, and my waitress didn't show up for work. One of the guys in the band said you're looking for a job. Would you like one right now?"

This scenario played out in my favor again and again. I worked the phones for a brokerage house for the summer because the receptionist stopped showing up for work. I worked as a DJ for a club when their house DJ didn't come in. I was a substitute teacher, a bartender, a director's assistant, and a last-minute drummer for a band all because somebody didn't show up.

Opportunities for success are all around us. When we make assurances to a business or social event, our presence is felt as well as our absence. I've seen Zoom networking events get canceled because most of the registered participants didn't come on. There's quite a bit of planning to put on these virtual meetups, and it's disappointing when they don't happen. Sometimes, the coordinator goes ahead and works with the people who do appear. I've been able to network, get advice, and make new friends because there was more time to do so. Once again, showing up worked to my advantage.

My advice is to be open to all possibilities. Don't make the mistake and assume a position you want is unattainable. When you take the time and effort to have a foundation of skills and expertise, the chances of finding your niche grows exponentially. Let the people around you know your aspirations. Attend virtual networking events, meetup groups, and webinars. Share your contact information and follow through with a personal message to connect.

When you get that new job, a promotion, or land a client, do yourself a favor and show up. Otherwise, I'll have your position instead.

For more information on Jane Parmel, visit her website: Jane Parmel.com

Jan 05

Abbey Normal

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"I Don't Know How to be Normal. I Only Know How to be Me."
Is it possible to give up on the word "normal"? Bear with me a minute to explain. I know that the society we grow up in has a set of acceptable cultural norms. We learn an unwritten set of rules for participating and contributing to our family and community. Ideas of right and wrong evolve as we learn and gain experience in our world. Growing up, your family is your universe, and you don't know anything different. As you get older and meet people, you realize growing up in a home that doubled as Grand Central wasn't the norm. Didn't everybody open their doors at two in the morning for guests? I think "normal' is hard to quantify. I think there are expectations that we set out to achieve, but many times we fall short. The goals laid out for us may not be what we want for ourselves or are so lofty that we're set up for failure. Not everyone wants to be married and have kids by the time they're twenty-five. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or lawyer. Not everyone purposely tries to disappoint their parents, but there's some fun in doing just that.

I believe this fascination with being "normal" puts blinders on us. It gives us a narrow scope of how we view ourselves and others. It keeps us from fitting into what is perceived as "acceptable." "Acceptable" to who; our parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors? I don't know about you, but I've yet to meet anyone that I would consider "normal." Everyone has their own set of perceptions and experiences that shape their mindset. If you spoke to my brothers and sisters separately, you wouldn't think we grew up in the same house. We each have our own renditions of our childhood. Also, you would walk away, feeling none of us had a regular upbringing. Don't feel bad, you didn't either.

I would rather replace the word "normal" with something much more simple. Nice or not so nice. I think this person is friendly and I like hanging out with her. Whatever she does in the privacy of her home that doesn't affect me adversely isn't any of my business. I don't feel the need to judge anyone or put conditions on a relationship. We all have silly quirks and see the world a little differently. Who wants everyone to be the same? Not only would it be boring and uninteresting, but it would also keep us from seeing things in a new light. Philosophy and enlightenment come when we pay attention and gain knowledge from our differences.

I avoid people who are insulting, petty, or rude. I believe respect is a two-way street. I try to give everyone a chance. Sometimes we don't present a great first impression because we're having a bad day or we had too much to drink. It happens to all of us, and I would want someone to give me a second chance as well. Some people I meet I click with right away. Others may take longer, similar to a developing skin rash, but we become friends, warts and all.

Your idea of "normal" is not what I would consider "normal." That's the beauty of meeting and getting to know people. We have the opportunity to learn from each other because we are different. Even though we know not to judge a book by its cover, we tend to label and categorize new acquaintances anyway. If we take the time to get to know people on a deeper level, we may be introduced to some great new stories. We get a chance for inspiration and connections that can last a lifetime.

Be open to other people's views and thought processes. You never know who may motivate and encourage you that will set you on a new path. Whatever you decide on your life's purpose, understand you've upset your parents, again, but it still beats being "normal."
Dec 29

It’s A New Year

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"A New Year, New Challenges, and New Possibilities."
A new year is around the corner. There's a universal anticipation of starting fresh. I get excited about what new possibilities may develop. Granted, 2020 was challenging, unexpected, and life-changing. I may be one of the few people who didn't organize and get rid of unnecessary items. All my useless stuff is still in the closet, under the bed, and behind the couch. ( I betcha didn't know you could hide junk behind the sofa. My husband taught me that one.) I did feel the world take a breath for a moment. The realization we're all in this together and how important it is to take care of each other took hold, except for the woman not wearing a mask who tried to get on the elevator with me. She didn't get the memo.

I think one of the most important takeaways of this past year is our health and well-being. I try to be mindful of my diet, exercise, and taking in plenty of sunshine. I have to admit that the stress and anxiety of world events took their toll, and cookies seemed to be the only answer. When my jeans started to get too tight, it was time to rethink my coping strategy. Practicing mindfulness and meditating did help alleviate some of the pressures I was feeling. What really helped was connecting with friends and family either by phone or Skype.

Talking, laughing, and even crying with others was the best way to deal with the unknown. Virtual get-togethers were my saving grace. I watched friends' graduation, a Bar-Mitzvah and birthday parties. I even made a few new friends through Zoom networking events. I received encouragement, support, and advice as I turned my in-person presentations into online productions. It's amazing how adaptable we can be. I realize how fortunate we all are by having the technology to keep us from feeling completely isolated from each other.

I'm continuously surprised at others' ingenuity. I've been entertained by the wonderful videos people produced while in quarantine. Have you seen the video by Casey Neistat where he and others recreate a scene from Star Wars? Here's the link if you haven't seen it yet. Star Wars Speeder
I've learned a great deal about cooking techniques, new exercise classes, and how to make cauliflower taste like chocolate pudding. I've tried to use the time at home to be productive but also a time to be grateful for what I have.

It's not easy finding a silver lining, but the stories of people's kindness to others have been uplifting. I'm happy for people who finally wrote their book or developed a new skill. It's great to hear families come together and spend quality time with each other. We'll always have challenges to face and overcome. If there's one lesson we learned is that we're not alone. When we need a helping hand or someone who'll listen to us, it's good to know we have each other. The New Year will find us all more vital, more compassionate, and more loving.

I promise when it's safe for us to visit, I will clean behind the couch for you. I wish you a Happy and Wonderful New Year.
Dec 22

The Best Super Hero

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Everyone Should Be A Secret Santa to Someone."

Photo courtesy of Stan and Kent Waldman

Do you believe in Santa Claus? The only correct answer is, Yes! This mythological being is the very essence and spirit of the holiday season. He embodies love, friendship, and the joy of giving. As we close out the year and look forward to a new one, one thing is certain, a visit from Kris Kringle. Many acts of kindness occur under his name, and heartfelt memories are created.

One of my favorite memories of Christmas eve is with my youngest brother, Zach. I told him he would need to get to bed early because Santa doesn't drop off presents until everyone is asleep. He was five years old and a bit skeptical. He looked at me and grinned, "Are you sure Santa is coming?"
"Yes, of course, he's coming. Why would you doubt that?"
All of a sudden, we heard the front door open. I said, "Should we take a peek and see who it is?"
Zach said, "Sure, why not?" Still not believing he would see anybody.
We slowly and quietly crept down the hall, and we could hear somebody in the living room. We looked, and there he was, Santa Claus in person!
Santa looked up and saw us. Zach was so surprised he started crying. He ran back down the hall, and it took a lot of convincing to get him to come back. Santa assured him it was fine that he got caught. He would give Zach his present personally.

Santa comes in many shapes and forms. My friends Eliezer and Lisa Rodriguez dress up as Santa's helpers with their sons, Miquel and Cristian, to hand out toys to families. They've done this for many years in partnership with the YMCA and Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. They do fundraisers, collect wish lists, do the shopping, wrapping, and delivery. They believe every child should have a special gift from Santa. They tell me that all of their hard work is worth it. The excitement of giving and being involved in their community keeps them all uplifted.

Steve Rodman, a professional Santa for many years, told me that he's no longer Steve when he puts on the costume; he's Santa Claus. He said there's no greater feeling than seeing children and adults be thrilled to see him. The kids hand him pictures and letters as they hug and kiss him. It's a universal love that everyone can feel, and it's a responsibility that he doesn't take lightly. His costume, the bells on his belt, and his laugh are authentic. He listens patiently to each child as they tell him what they want for Christmas. He assures them he knows they've been very good. Isn't that what we all want?

Santa Claus is the superhero that cares and lets us know he appreciates all of us by leaving a gift. There's a sense of global unity that everyone is getting a visit from this jolly old man no matter their culture or beliefs. Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, but it's Santa that goes around the world and spreads holiday cheer. He inspires us to be like him and to give to others. To love unconditionally and realize that we're not perfect. We all want to love and to be loved. Everyone should be a secret Santa to someone.
Happy Holidays and I hope you get what you wished for.
Dec 15

Hey Mr. Postman

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Letters From the Heart Will Never Go Out of Fashion."
Apparently, I'm considered "old fashioned" because I still like mailing holiday cards to friends and family. "Don't you know everyone sends season's greetings by email, text, or FaceBook? No one bothers with cards anymore." Yes, I know all about the excellent technology at our fingertips, but I like sending and receiving cards and letters. The little girl inside me still gets a kick out of opening up an envelope that isn't a bill. I love the artistic designs of today's cards. They're flashy, fun, and colorful. Emojis are cute, but you can't hold them in your hand. You can't put them in a drawer and take them out once in a while to reread a pleasant memory.

I like sending text messages to people throughout the day. I enjoy sharing jokes and silly cartoons. Once in a while, though, I will find the perfect card for someone and write a personal message to let them know I'm thinking of them. It's a way to stay connected that I believe is more personal. Before the wonderful advancements of technology, writing letters was the best way to keep in touch. I guess a part of me misses that form of communication.

I'm also the type of person that will not text you to see if you're available to talk on the phone. I'll take my chances and call you. I'm fine with leaving a voice mail if you don't pick up. I do find it funny when someone will go to the trouble of texting me a long conversation and then say they're too busy to talk. I'll text back and say I understand, and then they will text for another ten minutes. I must really be "old fashioned" because this makes zero sense to me. Every time I think the person is finished texting, the little bubble appears. Now I feel stuck waiting for more text to arrive. Tell me again how this is more efficient?

Writing a letter allows me to express my feelings on paper. I find I take more time to shape my thoughts that I want to convey. It may be a heartfelt thank you or a walk down memory lane. Sometimes I add a photograph or two. Yes, an actual photo on paper that you can hold or put in a frame. I love pictures, and I have many that adorn my walls. I change them out every so often. I have a million images on my computer, but it's not the same. I know I'm "old fashioned."

When I drop a line to my family or friends, it lifts my mood instantly. I feel happier when I take the time to let someone know how grateful I am that they're in my life. Reaching out to each other is always necessary no matter what time of the year it is. Take advantage of all the resources available to brighten someone's day. You'll end up brightening your day as well. Before you know it, you'll be "old fashioned" too. 
Dec 08

Tips For A Better Night’s Rest

By Celeste DeCamps | General

A Good Laugh Will Lead to Good Dreams.

I'm in the supermarket, walking up and down the aisles. I look up, and I see many angry faces, all directed at me. I don't understand what's happening until I realize I'm not wearing a mask. My heartbeat gets faster, and I feel so embarrassed. I also feel vulnerable. How did I leave my home without my mask? I try to be so careful. I can't believe how irresponsible I'm being. I then open my eyes and find that once again, I'm having a bad dream. It turns out I'm not the only one. Psychologists are reporting a significant uptick in covid related dreams. 

From WebMD: "Vivid dreams about bug attacks top the list of crazy COVID-19 nightmares, says Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D., a Harvard psychologist and dream researcher who launched an international survey about pandemic-related dreams. From "swarms of wasps, flies, and gnats to armies of roaches and wiggly worms," bug attacks are "by far the most common metaphor" seen in the more than 8,000 dreams reported on her survey since March. I think part of it traces to the slang use of the word; we say we have a bug to mean we have a virus," says Barrett. "Dreams can be kind of pun-like in using visual images for words."

Dreams play a major role in helping us deal with stress and anxiety. Our subconscious mind is working overtime in trying to help us with emotional overload. We're bombarded daily with news of this pandemic and how quickly it spreads. We're concerned about our family and friends, and we miss not being able to see each other. It's no wonder that our dreams reflect that worry. 

Sleep is a vital component to our overall health and well-being. Most of us are suffering from lack of sleep because we're feeling anxious. I find myself waking up quite a bit throughout the night. Sometimes I can get back to sleep, but other times it seems impossible. My mind races with worst-case scenarios, and the more I try to make it stop, the crazier it gets. I've written in the past, ways to get a better night's rest, but I think an update is in order in these uncertain times. 

Disconnect. I know we all want to look at our phones for messages or cat videos, but with it comes upsetting news. It's hard to ignore. Turn off the tv, computer, and your Dick Tracy watch. Put your phone on silent or switch notifications off. This will keep your phone from dinging and the impulse to check it. Instead, read a good book or flip through a magazine. Give your mind something pleasant to absorb in place of the apocalypse. 

Stretch. In general, exercise alleviates the feeling of dread and replaces it with a better outlook. Gentle stretches before getting into bed will also relax tense muscles. As you move, take slow, deep breaths. This will put you in the present and give you a much-needed break from future concerns. 

Meditate. I find meditating works the best for me when I'm trying to fall asleep. If my mind keeps wandering, I'll put on a guided meditation from an app on my phone. Yes, now it's okay to use your phone. Listening to relaxing sounds and quieting our minds will induce a more peaceful rest. Dreams may still happen, but hopefully, they'll be more pleasant. 

Call A Friend. I wouldn't suggest calling someone in the middle of the night, but it is a good idea during the day. We're all experiencing uncertainty and feeling fearful. Talking and expressing our worries to others helps us to feel less alone. Being able to chat and have a good laugh is the best remedy of all. If you're having trouble with depression, please consider talking to a professional therapist or psychologist. We can always learn new coping skills. 

Nightmares, especially when they feel so real, can stay with us in our waking hours. It can darken our mood and make it hard for us to have hope. We need each other and reaching out to family and friends is essential. Check-in with your loved ones and ask about their emotional well-being. Communication is vital for us to get through this. 

My latest dreams are better. Instead of finding myself in a room full of strangers without my mask, I have the more normal dream of being naked instead. I'm just glad I'm not dreaming about bugs. Cheers to happier times ahead. 

Nov 30

Finding Inspiration With a Few Simple Tricks

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Go out, play, have fun, and make the world a better place."

Kent, my eight-year-old nephew, told me he was working on some new jokes. He'll tell them to me as soon as he's figured out the punch lines. I told him the best way to feel creative is to go out and play. It's the same advice I give myself when I need help in the inspiration department. When I'm stuck on a problem, I realize that sitting and staring at my computer screen doesn't help. I've found a few tricks to get my imagination to work clearly.

Get Up and Move. Being sedentary for an extended length of time isn't good for our health and well-being. Sitting still in an office or classroom reduces our productivity. We think better on our feet. Increasing blood flow and raising our oxygen levels only happens when we're on the go. We all need a bit of recess. Our breakthroughs and problem solving happen easier when we take a walk, whether on a nature hike or window shopping. Put on some feel-good music and dance around. Even doing some simple stretches can clear away the cobwebs. It's like a fog has lifted, and we can see the answer in front of us. 

Meditation. Taking five minutes to close our eyes gives us a moment away from the non-stop action in our lives. Meditating helps us to slow down our breathing and brings us into the present. The roadblocks in our thought process will give way to finding a path forward. The "ah-ha" moments come when we can quiet our minds and filter out the chaos. Our insight grows when we open ourselves up to infinite possibilities. 

Write It Down. Don't let that good idea getaway; record it on your phone or grab a pen and notepad. I've gotten my best concepts in the middle of the night, and I'll get up and start jotting it down. I've learned from my past experiences that no matter how much I think I'll remember it, I won't. A moment of clarity can come from seeing our thoughts on paper. We can start to mold and shape our vision when we can cross out or add-in as needed. It's like a photograph appearing before our eyes as the picture comes into focus. 

Call A Friend. We can try to bounce our ideas off a wall, but our best bet is to talk to someone and get their feedback. Mastermind groups are popular for a reason. When we get the opportunity to discuss and strategize with others, our thoughts start to take form. We can hear other perspectives and see our ideas advance. When we have the support and encouragement from others, we can feel the impossible become possible. Collaborating and working on other people's projects will also help the creative juices flow for our work as well. 

Inspiration comes when we take the pressure off ourselves. Playing, laughing, and enjoying the people around us puts us in a positive mood. Taking a warm bath, reading a good book, or watching a wonderful program gives us the ability to regroup by shifting our attention to something else. 

I love that my nephew, Kent, is working on his standup routine. I enjoy watching him bring his imagination to life. We all carry that innate creativity that keeps us improving ourselves. We should never take it for granted. Go out, play, have fun, and make the world a better place. 

Nov 24

Thanksgiving Tradition

By Celeste DeCamps | General

There were only two traditions in my family, and they both centered around Thanksgiving. The first one was my mother's decision to invite anyone who didn't have a place to go on Thanksgiving to come to our house. I didn't grow up in a small family. I have two older brothers, two younger sisters, and another brother. Six kids weren't enough, so my parents adopted a seventh. Our place was where all the neighborhood kids hung out, which made all the other parents very happy because their homes always looked pristine while ours always looked like a bomb went off.

Besides my family, we had relatives that would spend Thanksgiving with us as well. We would spend a few weeks before Thanksgiving shopping, cleaning, and organizing. We would start preparing food three days before the big event. My mother made everything from scratch. I was in charge of pies. I would bake about eight to ten pies. My sisters were busy making appetizers and other side dishes. My father and my brothers sat on the couch and watched football. That seemed fair.

The parade would be on, and my Uncle Smokey would show up at that time with his famous eggnog made with Southern Comfort. Soon the parade of friends and family would start as well.

People would start coming in from late morning until late in the evening. Friends came in before going to their own family or drop in after being with their family. It wasn't unusual to answer the door and see a stranger standing there, explaining that my mother invited them. Once, a whole blues band showed up to have dinner with us. It's true what they say; once you feed them, they never go away. They were with us for three months. That's a different story for another time.

All of this sounds like a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. It was a great feeling knowing how much everyone enjoyed being with us, which brings me to our second Thanksgiving tradition.

After everyone had stuffed themselves silly, and we were sitting in the living room, we would put on Monty Python's "Meaning of Life." Now, if you've never seen this movie, I'm going to spoil one scene. I don't feel bad about it at all, because this movie has been out for years and you should've seen it already.

We start the movie and fast forward to this one scene. It takes place at a very elegant restaurant. The actor, John Cleese, is the waiter. In walks a huge man. He must weigh a thousand pounds. The waiter goes up to him and says, "Good Evening, Mr. Cariso. How are you doing tonight?"

The man says, "Better. Better give me a bucket", and then proceeds to projectile vomit. My brothers and sisters and I are on the floor laughing, much to the horror of our guests. There's nothing my mom can do because she knows we're going to put this on. We think she thought it was hilarious too, but didn't want to encourage us.

The waiter hands the big customer a menu and says, "What would you like to have this evening?" The man replies, "I'll have the entire lot."

Cut to a massive amount of plates and glasses and a gigantic mess on the table. The waiter asks, "What else would you like to have?"
"Nothing, I can't eat another bite."
"How about a wafer-thin mint?"
"No, I can't have another bite."
"Just one small, tiny wafer-thin mint."
"Fine."
The waiter slips the mint into the man's mouth and then runs for cover to the other side of the restaurant.

Now the man's buttons are popping off one by one as his stomach expands and finally explodes. There are guts and blood all over everything and everybody. We are now hysterical. We have so much fun watching that scene that we will start the movie from the beginning and watch it again.

I have beautiful memories of our family Thanksgiving dinners. More importantly, my mother taught me always to have my door open. She appreciated everything she had and was happy to share with anyone that was in need. She instilled in us to give back and be grateful for what we have. My mother believed our purpose on this earth was to be here for each other and that a well-lived life revolved around family, friendship, and community.

I wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the people in your life and take in these special moments. They'll give you fun and loving remembrances. After you finish eating and feeling full, do yourself a favor, put on Monty Python's "Meaning of Life." I know my family will.
Nov 17

What Kind of First Impression Are You Making?

By Celeste DeCamps | General

"Impress and Be Impressed"

"Don't judge a book by its cover." is an old saying and one that I always respected. The truth is we do make snap judgments when meeting people for the first time. We quickly take in what they're wearing, their body language, and their reaction to meeting us. We base our opinions on our new acquaintances from our past experiences. Our perception may be skewed, but an open mind will allow us to give a person time to reveal themselves. 

It never occurred to me to ask people what their first impression of me was. It doesn't stop them from telling me anyway. A couple of people remarked that they thought I asked too many questions when they first met me. Really? Why did they believe that? What did they think my intention was? Was I asking personal questions? Did I come across as an interrogator? Why would anyone think that? Oh, wait. I hear it now. 

People say they don't like to be labeled, and yet we label each other all the time. I don't think it's a bad thing because it gives us a starting point. 

I'm sure my dentist has a whole life that doesn't revolve around dentistry. All I know of him, though, is that he's my dentist. It's what he does, and I depend on him to keep my pearly whites healthy. It would be weird to ask him to give me an eye test because I didn't want him to feel labeled. 

Don't worry about giving your resume to people you're meeting for the first time. To make a good impression depends on more than your title. You want to come across as confident, pleasant, and relaxed. Here's a quick checklist to help you put your best foot forward.

  1. Expensive designer clothes are unnecessary, but whatever you're wearing should make you feel good about yourself. Ditch the sweat pants and wear a well-fitted, ironed dress or pants and shirt. Looking sloppy gives the impression of not caring about yourself or others. Taking the time to look great will make you feel fabulous. 
  2. Our body language is a reflection of how we feel on the inside. Feel self-assured by pulling your shoulders back, lift your head, and smile. Excellent posture creates presence and gets you noticed. When you meet someone, smile while making eye contact, this lets the other person know you're focused on him. Give feedback by nodding and showing you're engaged.
  3. When you ask a question, try not to ask too many; apparently, people don't like it. Listen to the answer and pay attention to how they phrased it. If they use a word to describe something, use the same word or phrase when you answer a question. For example, your new friend says, "I love the smell of fresh-brewed coffee in the morning." At some point, when you're speaking, you can say, "I agree, fresh-brewed coffee is the best way to start my day." 
  4. Remember the person's name you're talking to. If you forget, simply say, "I apologize, but I'm not sure I heard your name correctly." When they tell you their name again, repeat it to make sure you're pronouncing it right. People like hearing their name, and it keeps their attention on you. Don't overuse their name, but say it a couple of times during the conversation. When you leave, say their name as part of your good-bye. 

We're many things to various people. Our relationships reflect the multitude of personalities that reside within us. No one will ever know the real you; only you will. We should keep an open mind as we meet new people as we hope they will give us the same opportunity. First impressions are significant, but that shouldn't be the only impression. 

People can surprise you. As you get to know someone, your idea of her may change as well. Maybe she does ask a lot of questions at first, but, little by little, she ends up being your best friend. You then get to tell her, "Wow, I thought you'd never stop asking me questions."

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