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First Impressions

Linda Boissinot
Orleans, Ontario, Canada
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 1, February-March 2000, p. 14

Although my children are well beyond their nursing years, I enjoy attending La Leche League meetings. When I travel, I make it a point to visit the local LLL Group or at least call the Leader. It's a great way to expand my horizons as a Leader. I get innovative ideas for our Group and learn new ways of handling familiar predicaments. I gain affirmation for the role of a Leader and an LLL Group. I feel comfortable and welcomed.

That is how visiting Series Meetings affects me as a Leader, but as a visitor, I can also see the meeting through the eyes of someone new to the Group. How does a newcomer see your Group? Does she feel comfortable and welcome? How does she learn about the aspects of mothering that may be new to her? Is she left feeling that she is important to her baby?

First impressions are important. We can try evaluating our Series Meetings from a newcomer's perspective. Is everyone greeted warmly? Do we offer a welcome or newcomer's packet? Physical comfort is important too. Are there comfortable seats for new or expectant mothers? Are there pillows available for positioning newborns? Do we mention the location of the toilet facilities?

Remember that from a mother's perspective, each Group is a microcosm of La Leche League. As Leaders, each of us is viewed as a representative of LLL at all times. There are many details to consider before, during, and after the meeting, from dressing and speaking appropriately to the wording of announcements and questions.

During the meetings, do we take care to see that the newcomers' questions are answered? Are all our suggestions and comments in line with LLLI philosophy? Do we make a point to qualify or balance statements and comments that are outside the scope or in conflict with our philosophy? Do we keep the discussion on track even when using a conversation style approach? Do we balance attention to information and feelings?

Afterwards, do we hold Planning/Evaluation Meetings so experienced Group members have an opportunity to assess and develop the Group's work? Do we include enrichment topics to explore issues that interest regular Group members?

As each of us thinks about the first impressions our Group makes, we can consult the Leader's Handbook regardless of how long we've been Leaders. Like any good book it has timeless tidbits of information that we may not remember from our last reading. We can remember to look through back issues of Leaven and our Area Leaders' Letter. We can consult with our District Advisor/Coordinator for ideas, too.

And we can pop into a neighboring Group once in a while. Hope to see you soon!

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