September 2, 2015

We can all remember the first time a new kid started school. They were introduced to the classroom, 20 – 30 pairs of eyes on them, as nervous as they had ever been in their life. Maybe you were the new kid. Taking the first step was the hardest and bravest part of starting at a new school.

Sometimes the difference between thriving or living in terror for the new kid is that someone said hello. Someone voluntarily went out of their way to be nice and to be welcoming. Perhaps they asked the new kid if they wanted to come and play.

For most of us, stepping into a new environment makes us feel like the new kid starting school. We have butterflies in our stomach, a nervousness tick, and the awkward feeling of staring at a bunch of people who look like they belong. They’re familiar and comfortable in their environment.

A person’s first visit to a centre that specialises in weight management can be even harder. They’re like the new kid at school, but they are also dealing with the emotions tied up with reaching out for help, acknowledging that they haven’t been able to control their weight without that help. They’re likely to feel anxious about how well they can exercise, whether they can follow their plan, and whether people are judging them.

If you’re the new person, think of the new kid at school. Quite simply, they had to just put on their brave face, try not to cry, and accept the helping hands that were offered. If the new kid can do it, why would it be any different for you?

If you’re well past the new kid stage, the best thing you can do is to offer a helping hand to the new person. Reach out – even if it’s just with a smile and a hello. It will help make them feel more comfortable and ease their nerves as they are about to commence a program that requires not just dietary change but also lifestyle change.

What’s in it for you – apart from being a nice person? Here are 5 reasons you should take the initiative to be friendly to the new person.

You were once the newbie: Chances are, you remember the nervousness and it would be great if you could ease the transition for the new person. It will mean the world to them to have somebody say hello and include them in your conversation.

Being nice helps you feel good: How you treat a first-timer can leave a lasting positive or negative impression on that person, and can really influence whether or not they come back. Imagine the glow of happiness you feel when you’ve done something nice for someone else.

You might make a new friend: Every friendship starts with an introduction and conversation. You never know how the people you meet will eventually impact your life.

You might be entertained: Most people you come across are friendly, especially in a new environment. Introducing yourself and striking up a conversation could provide you with insightful and entertaining conversation pieces with a new person.

Extend your social circle: Putting yourself out there is an essential life skill and we all fear rejection when we introduce ourselves to an unfamiliar face. If you’re in a familiar environment, you will already know most regulars so why not expand your social circle by getting to know somebody new and seeing if you have anything in common besides wanting to improve health, fitness and wellness.

Next time there’s a new kid in your centre, remember the bravery it took for them to be there. Reach out and make them feel welcome. It will be good for both of you.