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These 8 Tips Will Help You a Lot When Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for the First Time

These 8 Tips Will Help You a Lot When Meeting Your Partner’s Parents for the First Time

Meeting the parents is an important milestone in any intimate relationship for all involved.  As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and first impressions matter.

Not convinced? First impressions matter so much that scientists study them. As shared by Forbes, Princeton University psychologist Alex Todorov and student researcher Janine Willis asked a wide cross-section of subjects to look at a microsecond of a video of a political candidate. With only that microsecond to go on, research subjects obtained a 70% accuracy rating in predicting who would win the election. What can we all take away from this study? People can make accurate snap judgments in a tenth of a second.

Are you worried about how to navigate those potentially rocky waters of meeting your partner’s parents for the first time? Keep these 8 tips in mind and your relationship will be off to a smooth start.

1. Remember that it’s about all of you.

Most men and women worry about the parent’s impression, the partner’s impression, the cat’s impression, and everything under the sun when they meet the parents for the first time. Remember that this occasion is also about you. This meeting is a valuable opportunity to learn more about your partner. Pay attention to their parent’s mannerisms, home, and how they treat each other. No matter what the current state of your partner’s relationship with them is, the parent’s influence was a powerful one in shaping future expectations of intimate relationships.

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What can you learn about your partner from this new perspective into their family life?  Do you like what you see?  What troubles you?  Did you enjoy their time? How you do you feel at the end of the evening? Be honest with yourself – like anyone you know, there will be things you consider positive and those that deter you. The more clarity with which you view them, the better you can evaluate your bond with your partner and stay on the same page as you move toward the future.

2. Maintain perspective.

How big a deal is “meeting the parents?” It depends. If families are far-flung and meeting them requires travel, a holiday, or another momentous occasion, then yes, it’s definitely a big deal. If everyone lives in the same neighborhood and your partner first introduces you when you run into each other in the supermarket, then things are more casual. Ask your partner how important this occasion is to them, and be clear about where this meeting falls on the “serious, committed relationship” scale to you.

Some people highly value their parents’ opinions, or have unique care taking or other logistical arrangements with their parents, and prefer partners to meet them early on; some don’t give two shakes what their parents think and will see them in the pew when you two are at the altar. Bottom line – don’t stress, and don’t assume that meeting the parents necessarily means more than it does.

3. Realize how much you don’t know.

Whether you meet the parents in their home or in a public space, you are guaranteed to learn something about your partner during the meeting. Remember that these folks have decades of history together, complete with insides jokes, embarrassing stories, and detailed knowledge of each other. Work hard not to react to anything you hear – there is likely context that your partner will explain to you later, and there’s a good chance that jokes and stories that sound like they happened yesterday actually took place years ago.

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If you are past the age of 18, there is also an extremely good chance that you are not the first one your partner has ever brought home (really, would you want to be?), and that “meeting the parents” likely hasn’t gone swimmingly well in the past every time. The first meeting is all about composure – maintain yours.

4. Be there for your partner.

Most folks resort to humor to cut nervous tension, and families pretty much exist to share embarrassing stories. Some families also include nosy or maliciously minded individuals who will pry and push for information. Remember that this first meeting is just that – a first meeting. You wouldn’t have teased your partner incessantly on your first date, embarrassed them, or revealed exceedingly personal information, would you? Of course not. So don’t do it now.

Sure, down the road you can tease your partner with their family, but save that for later. Giggling is alright; ganging up on your partner in a quest to be accepted by the parents is not. Respect your partner’s privacy and the sanctity of your relationship at all times, and deflect all attempts to learn private information about your relationship with your partner.

5. Cut the parents some slack.

Think you’re nervous, excited, stressed, eager, or every other emotion under the sun? So are they. You’ll probably say something you wish you could take back, blurt out a joke that isn’t that funny, drop your napkin, or some other detail you agonize over on the car ride home. So will they.

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Take a deep breath, relax, and don’t judge any more than you wish to be judged. Remember, these people are important to your partner. It may have taken a few meetings to realize that you partner is amazing, your best friend is great to hang out with, that dog you eventually adopted is the right pet for you – give the parents some time, too.

6. Have a gift in hand and kind words on your lips.

No matter what you’re doing, where, when, what time of day, in what season – never arrive empty handed. But what gift to bring? Go for something the mother will like, and present the gift directly to her. Not only do classic rules of etiquette dictate presenting the hostess with a gift, but there are valuable “family goodwill” points to be gained by courting the mother’s favor. Not sure about her tastes, food allergies, or other considerations? Pick up a bouquet of flowers. On a super tight budget? Bake something – whether they like it or not, the effort will be noticed and appreciated.

Be appropriately generous with compliments throughout the evening, whether on a style of dress or the parents’ home, and send a handwritten “thank you” after the event.

7. Reciprocate.

Did the parents pick up the tab for the evening, or welcome you to their home? Reciprocate by hosting them the next time, or treating them to a meal or experience. Establishing you and your partner as mature adults who care about the parents will go a long way in the good will department and lay the foundation for the mutual respect that is a part of every ideal relationship. Added bonus: you’ll likely be able to relax and enjoy the second meeting a little more, especially on your home turf or a bit more on your terms.

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8. Relax, and enjoy.

The point of meeting the parents is that because you care about your partner, you could see them in your life for a while to come…. maybe even forever. That time is a lot happier, more peaceful, productive, and supportive if you all get along. They don’t have to be your favorite people, but you all do have something in common – love for your partner, who happens to be their child. So take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy your time with new folks. They did something right if your partner turned out the way they did, so no matter how this meeting goes, it should be an occasion to celebrate.

Mastered the parent thing? Check out these other 10 Keys To A Successful Romantic Relationship.

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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