#Talk Nerdy To Me™’s @staffwriter
Being a social ninja is all about knowing how to read people and manipulate them to your advantage. And the best way to do that is through body language.
By understanding what different body language cues mean, you can put yourself in a position of power (or, alternatively, fly under the radar) in any social situation.
The foot-in-the-door trick
This one is especially useful if you’re trying to get someone to do something for you. All you have to do is ask them to do something small first, and then follow up with a request for something bigger.
For example, let’s say you want your boss to give you a raise. You could start by asking if you can work from home one day a week, and then follow up by asking for a 5% raise. Chances are, they’ll be more likely to say yes to the second request if you’ve already established that you’re capable of working from home.
Leave a conversation just by turning your body
We all have that friend who goes on and on about something you lost interest in what feels like hours ago.
Now you can leave the conversation in a matter of seconds, and with no hard feelings!
To leave, turn your body by 45°.
Normally you’d face a conversation partner nose to nose, toes to toes. Turn your body slowly to the left where your stomach, feet and nose are now pointing away from them. All the while continue to listen and nod just as you were doing before.
Your conversation partner will stop talking a short time later, and give you an excuse why he or she needs to leave now.
Maintain eye contact to establish dominance
Note: This is true for neurotypicals, for neurodivergent it may be more difficult, but it is still an effective trick.
Eye contact is a powerful, yet unused resource everyone has. If you’re having an argumentation with someone, keeping eye contact (or eyebrows of the other person as someone else here suggested) shows dominance and makes your statements appear more solid and consistent. When is the other person turn to speak, do the opposite. Never look back to his eyes. It re asserts your dominance and makes the other person feel unsure of what he is saying. You’ll often hear from parents to their children “look me in the eyes when I’m talking to you” because it challenges the authority of the speaker not looking in the eyes when he is talking.
Mirror, mirror, whenever possible
When you’re sitting at the dinner table with a social group of people, reach for your glass and take a drink. Other people at the table will often unconsciously grab theirs shortly after. (Be responsible with this trick!)
Mirroring is just as it sounds: moving or gesturing the same as someone else. The book states that mirroring is a way of bonding and building rapport with others and is something we are all hardwired to do. Mirroring is also the concept that explains why yawns are contagious.
Take a full step forward
When you feel intimidated, take a step toward the other person. Be sure the person is not backed up against a wall or otherwise physically trapped. Just take one full step forward. Do it slowly and deliberately — you are in no rush; you are just taking your own time to execute a decision that you have already made. You aren’t moving slowly because you are afraid of moving forward. You’re just taking your time as you step forward. Lock eyes with the other person as you move. Smile. Don’t appear angry of afraid.
This generally breaks the tension. Intimidation is meant to make you take a step back — physically and mentally. So taking a step forward quickly breaks the psychic “wall” the other person has created between you and himself or herself.
I’ve gotten out of getting speeding tickets from the police following the instructions described:
– Stop your car, remain seated until officer gets to your window, make sure your window is fully lowered, say hi with a gently smile and pretend you don’t know why you were stopped. Stay casual and friendly. Answer all questions as if was a close friend the one questioning.
– If you see signs of you are going to get a ticket, wait for the officer to get away from your window try to engage in a conversation with them (this way you break the door barrier between you and appear more “human” to them).
– Try to appear submissive keeping a soft voice tone (a guilty one), put your gaze in the floor like a sinner and show them your hands palms. (Don’t over act yourself on this one. Do it on the sly, subtly.) Reassert everything they say, even if they are accusing you of law breaking. Don’t make up for excuses or crazy explanations. Just say they are right.
– Ask for advice or explanations about how to be a better driver, how to prevent you from getting tickets or how to get to some place you were heading (even if you don’t need the advice, keep them talking to you and in this point you can start to look them in the eyes and nod).
– Finally, thank them (yes, even if you are getting a ticket) for helping you and tell them you are sorry for your actions and it won’t happen again. At this point, if you’ve done a good job building rapport with the officer, they’ll pardon you and let you get away with just a verbal warning.