<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Eric. He is a MAASSTTEERRR social dynamics expert that will be talking about his experiences in the field from both an expert, and experience perspective. He’s not just saying “this is how to get the girl” he’s here to share his actual life stories and lessons learned from them. I only have one more thing left to say … HIT IT ERIC !!</editorsnote>
Hello friends, happy holidays.
<tangent> Is anybody else getting hit up by their exes? I’ve been hit up by two in the last two weeks, who I literally never thought I’d end up in a steamy make out sesh with again. #wtf </tangent>
So today we are going to be talking about one of my favorite topics, body language. Specifically we are going to be taking an in-depth look at body language before and during the opening of a conversation. There are a couple things to note about body language before jumping in. Women are extremely in-tune to subtlety and your body language can be beneficial or detrimental to your approach. Generally speaking, what comes out of your mouth is only so important, and it is your body language that will either validate or invalidate what you’re saying about yourself. For instance, you are telling a story where you are surrounded by women and friends, and thus your words are saying that you are a confident leader and social person. But what if you’re body language is saying something else as you’re telling it, you’re hunching your shoulders, avoiding eye contact, and fidgeting nervously? If you guessed that no one is going to believe you, especially the women, then you’re right they’re not.
It is also important to note that reading body language is really about contextually recognizing changes in body language. Here is an example, you are talking to someone on the patio of a cafe and as they tell a story their arms are crossed with their hands tucked in their armpits. Suddenly they mention something and their hands fly above their head, and their feet lift off the ground. Now, here it is important to note that old-school body language axioms would say that this persons crossed arms is a form of protection or reservation, but in this scenario the people could be sitting outside and it could be cold. What’s important is the change to flailing of the arms and feet from a state of having the arms crossed. That change shows excitement and it’s that moment in which the person gives us a true “tell” that they’re elated at the conversation they are having.
The last thing that I want to mention before diving in is that there are no silver bullets in social dynamics, and that definitely includes body language. Body language is a tool and if you’re trying to up your social game it’s an important tool but still just a tool. There are other tools in social dynamics (verbal communication, touching, synergy, and your appearance) and when used well together with the others, body language can be a very powerful asset. I will say this a lot in my pieces but always remember that everything I say is a guideline. All guidelines in social dynamics are meant to be bent and sometimes broken but you need to know what they are first.
Alright so let’s dive in, when does a social interaction start? In my last piece I wrote that it started when you open a conversation. I wasn’t being completely truthful. It actually starts before that, it starts the moment that either person is able to see the other. Here is a small checklist that you should mentally run yourself through when entering a social situation:
- Am I standing tall, with my shoulders back and my chin up? But make sure you ain’t cray…
- Am I smiling? But make sure you ain’t cray…
- Am I moving at comfortable pace? (Many people walk nervously fast)
That covers the basics of entering a new social area. If you walk in standing tall, smiling, and walking at a comfortable pace then you look approachable and confident. So now lets get into the meat of this talk with non-committal body language during opening. This is where I see a lot guys make mistakes repeatedly because they’re simply unaware of what they are doing. Non-committal body language is a piece of jargon that simply means you are not displaying commitment to a conversation or interaction via your body.
In order to do this you’ll want avoid entering the conversation head on. Rather approach the group of people from the side. If you’ve done this correctly then you should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the person that you are talking to, with your bodies facing the same direction. It should look kinda like this:
To validate why this initial positioning is important do this test. You can even just imagine it and probably feel the difference. Stand next to someone, shoulder to shoulder, and look at them over your shoulder with your body facing forward which should be the same direction that their body is facing. Take a moment and do a scan of your body, how do you feel? Now pivot and turn so that you are facing them head on. If you didn’t move and just swung around then your faces should be inches from each other. When you do this you should experience an innate feeling to move backwards in order to regain “personal space”. Even though the space in between you may have changed very little, the feeling of comfort changed quite a bit. One thing to note, is that appropriate distances for personal space vary quite a bit by culture. Israelis for instance talk much closer than Americans.
If two people are sitting facing each other directly then it’s best to be facing the same direction as the person nearest you. Your body will then be facing straight past the person across from you and not directly facing anyone. If it’s a group of people then it’s going to be hard to not face someone directly because if they are standing then most likely they’ll be in a circle. In this case follow the same rule as before to stay facing the same direction as the people that are directly next to you.
So now that we’ve dealt with the approach lets look at how you should stand or sit after you’ve started the conversation. One of my first students made this exact mistake when he approached his first group during one of Jen and I’s workshops. The two girls were sitting at a bar height table and he was standing, after he approached he leaned in so that his body was not only facing them, but his torso was tilted at a 140 degree angle. The girls reaction was to immediately lean back in order to create more distance between them and my student. You could see their facial expressions become defensive and he had already lost that interaction. The interaction continued to feel forced and was over very soon after it started. The lesson to learn here is to not lean in. People lean into a conversation when they are engaged and if you come in hot like this, before people are comfortable, then you’ll most likely get the same reaction that this guy got. Also people constantly engage in mirroring which is a body language term for copying or emulating. When you smile they smile, when you cross your arms they cross theirs, etc.. People mirror other peoples body language all the time. So when you lean back and you’re relaxed and non-committed, they’ll by nature do the same. It is a wonderful tool and it will significantly improve the success rate of the conversations that you open.
At this point we’ve dealt with position and posture, now lets take a moment to examine you facial expressions. When you enter a conversation you want to convey a friendliness that will put people at ease. The best way to do that is with a “light” smile. When I say light I mean that your teeth should be visible but the corners of your mouth shouldn’t be stretched to your ears. The right mood that you are conveying is that you are relaxed and happy. Once you’ve opened the conversation then you should smile a little less. Listen more, be attentive to what the people are saying back to you, you should be identifying social cues that they are giving you to spark conversations after your opener has run its course. If you read my last post about what to say when opening a conversation, and are running the 50 Shades of Grey opener, then as the people are giving you back their answers look them in the eye, lean back, relax and let them know that you are listening. Even though your body isn’t facing them directly you shouldn’t give them the impression that you are aloof and this is why it’s important to be attentive but not needy.
All of the above techniques signal that you are not fully committed to the conversation. When this is done correctly the people that you are talking to will feel more at ease and the thought, “How long is this person going to be here for?”, shouldn’t cross their mind. Even if it does they’ll be subconsciously comforted by your lack of commitment at the onset of your conversation. You are also signaling that you are willing to walk away which is exactly what you want. But there will come a point where you should become more invested in the conversation. The easiest way to know when is to let them invest first. Wait for them to pivot their body, smile more, and then mirror their motion. That’s all for now folks. If you have any topics that you would like to have covered please email me. I’d love to talk more about them here on TNTML.
Hope everyone had a great holiday season! And just in case you didn’t here is a cat hugging a baby kitten who’s having a nightmare.
If you’d like to share your stories please feel free to tweet me at @redolpho or email me at eric dot rudolph dot carrillo at gmail dot com