DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter starts off shy and then warms up after a while. Because she is slow to interact with people, some think she is shy or unfriendly. That’s not the case at all. It’s more like she starts off as an observer, figures out who she wants to talk to and then slowly opens up to that person. In our fast-paced world, this can cause problems. I’m worried that now, when she’s interviewing for high school, that the first impression people may have of her is that she is not interested in their school. What can I do to help her to pick up her pace? -- Press Fast Forward, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR PRESS FAST FORWARD: Please know that your daughter is not the only student who can be a little shy at first. Many children need a little coaxing. What you can do to help your daughter prepare for what is a rigorous interview process in New York City is to get her a coach. She needs to practice speaking out loud and talking about herself with confidence and enthusiasm. Generally, that’s not a role best filled by you. It can be a friend who is good at coaching or, better yet, a hired professional to support her through the interviewing process. You can encourage her to think about what she likes about the school she is visiting as well as her interests. Practicing talking about herself is key to losing the butterflies.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I had an intern many years ago whom I really liked. He tried to keep in touch with me, which I appreciated, but it was at a time when I was busy building my business, so I was distracted. When I finally realized how dismissive I had been of him and tried to find him, I had no good contact information. Years have passed, and this young man’s teacher, who is my friend, found a letter from him. We have his parents’ contact information. I’m a little nervous. I want to reach out to reconnect with this young man, but I was not responsible years ago. Do you think it’s wise to knock on that door again? -- Closing the Loop, Seattle
DEAR CLOSING THE LOOP: Your sincerity should ring through when you make this next effort. Starting with his parents, write a note, or call if you have a phone number, and say you want to reach out to their son. Remind them of when he worked with you so they will feel comfortable making the connection.
If you do reach the young man himself, start off by saying how happy you are to reconnect. Ask how and what he is doing. Allow him to share his story. Then admit you didn’t feel good about the way you parted ways years ago and that you have tried to find him for some time. Ask for his forgiveness for your lack of responsiveness in the past and see if you can forge a relationship now. There is a chance he could be in a busy phase, but your overture should count for something.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)