Today I was walking in a local park when a man puffed by me heading up a hill. He was wearing a bulky hiker’s backpack, but more interestingly he was dragging a car tire on the ground behind him attached to his waist by long ropes. The gentleman wouldn’t meet my eyes. Little did he realize we probably had more in common than he thought.
My guess is he was training to hike the Appalachian Train and will start the journey in Georgia this April. I assume this because I have been on the periphery of trail culture for the last 15 years. My husband and I have completed many AT weekend backpacking trips, we’ve day hiked sections, and we have given lifts to through-hikers we met. But this man did not know that, and it is a bit odd tieing yourself to an old car tire, so I imagine he had been getting some interesting reactions all morning.
A few years ago I got a mole removed from my face, and it was uncomfortable being in public with a wad of bandages all over my cheek. In some situations, we do not like not standing out from our peers. Not fitting in makes many people feel uncomfortable and this contributes to new attendee anxiety. Participating in a conference or chapter event or the board meeting or video chat for the first time can be anxiety producing for members. When we are new, we don’t know the group’s norms.
As you onboard your new members think about how to prepare them to fit in. Do your members wear suits every day except Hawaiian shirt Friday? Do members tend to hug when they greet each other? Do they arrive early or on time? What are the norms among your members? Find ways to get new members up to speed so they can feel prepared and more comfortable.