The fine line between being social and being creepy
It’s common to feel at least some hesitancy while in a social setting. There’s always that moment at a party where you’re surrounded by guests conversing and laughing, yet deep inside, you’re asking yourself, “Is my breath bad? Is there anything in my teeth? Do these people know I’m a convicted felon on the run?”
You can learn to be charming. When you think of “charming” you probably think of someone suave and debonair and whom everyone likes. The ideal image of charisma is James Bond, which is strange, because he’s always getting shot at.
You won’t get shot at the next party you attend, unless you spill guacamole on the host’s new couch, in which case you had it coming.
Dale Carnegie authored the treatise on charm, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” In the book, he offers several simple, effective tips on social interaction that I would like to share with you, except that the Mesa County library says the book is checked out until May 8. Hopefully, you don’t have any pressing social engagements until then.
Books such as Carnegie’s are more necessary than ever today, when more and more people are proclaiming to have “social anxiety disorder.” I don’t think this is a real thing. Everyone can be nervous in social settings, but it’s not really a disease if can be cured by two Coors Lights.
Nevertheless, there are some tips that can make you appear to be more charming while distracting guests from noticing your ankle monitor.
Numerous studies have revealed that waitpersons made more in tips when touching their customers. I had heard this theory on my first day of waiting tables and tried it out, but ended up getting punched in the face by a long-haul trucker named Darryl.
The key is subtlety. Gently brush your hand on a person’s hand. Playfully punch their shoulder as a joke. But don’t keep you hand on their arm, caressing it back and forth. And certainly don’t do it while closing your eyes and breathing hard. Trust me and Darryl on this one.
You want to know what people are interested in? Themselves. Not you, or your kids, or your mutual funds. So don’t monopolize the conversation, unless you’re specifically discussing the game Monopoly.
The key is to display a genuine, sincere interest in the other person, even if you have to fake it.
This can be difficult if you’re a man and happen to be speaking to an attractive woman in a low-cut dress with cleavage that is talking to you. “Look at me!” it says, only you’re not allowed to look, even though the woman secretly wants you to notice and be impressed. She has to be; otherwise she’d be wearing a burka.
Experts in body language say that miming the person across from you can help build rapport. Miming, of course, is when you dress up in white face paint and pretend you’re stuck in a box.
Actually, it’s the mirroring effect, where you subtly imitate the other person’s body language. If they cross their legs, you cross your legs. If they hold their drink with their left hand, you hold yours with your right hand. Mirror their every gesture, unless they bend down to pick up the Swedish meatball they dropped on the floor, because there’s nothing more awkward then getting caught pretending to pick up a fake Swedish meatball off the floor.
Studies show that people who use hand gestures while speaking are considered more interesting. So use chopping motions. Throw your hands back flamboyantly. Your model should be a gay Italian guy at a karate class.
The point of all these tips is that you can learn to be charming. All you have to do is to maintain eye contact and keep the conversation on the other person while touching them.
But not too much. Darryl hates that.