With condolences to introverts everywhere, we live in a social society that likes to have parties, and at said parties, you are likely to meet people you don’t know. And everyone you have ever met in your whole life, at any party ever, has had the same goal: to have a Sally Field moment with you. To have a “you like me, you really like me” moment. It’s a little neurotic, but it’s true. We all want to be liked, almost instantly, by just about everyone. While that is statistically impossible, I’ve comprised a quick guide to help you navigate social situations via the science of body language. Try these out at your next party, then write me about all the new friends you made.
Do you struggle with eye contact? I tend to do it when I’m nervous or intimidated. The life hack is simple — just notice the color of the person’s eyes. It helps them feel acknowledged and makes you seem confident.
What’s In A Name?
When someone offers you their name, repeat it back to them. It will help you remember it. “Hi, Slim Shady. It’s nice to meet you.” Remembering someone’s name makes them feel special.
Hearty Health Handshakes
Power shakes aren’t just for blenders. How you shake someone’s hand instantly tells them more about your personality than anything else (even more than your quirky socks, gentlemen). I’ve experienced death grip handshakes and, as a lady, the borderline-offensive shake of the upper hand (that one is weird and makes me feel like an 18th century French lady). So for both men and women: Be firm, but don’t squeeze; keep your wrist straight; and — throwback — make eye contact while you’re doing it.
“I love smiling; smiling’s my favorite!” I often say, quoting the movie Elf. It can be your favorite, too. A simple smile, even a half-smile of the Mona Lisa variety, sends signals to your brain to chill out and lets others know you’re not a Debbie Downer. Like eye contact, don’t do it too much, or it gets weird.
Lead With Your Heart
Be aware of how you’re standing and what your arms are doing. Crossed arms look cool on '90s hip-hop album covers, and bad in a social gathering. Tuck your shoulders back so it opens your chest, and direct your heart toward the person you’re speaking with.
Listen more than you talk. Tilting your head shows interest, as does — wait for it — eye contact. Don’t look around the room; concentrate on who you’re talking to.
Unless You’re E.T., Don’t Phone Home
Which brings me to: For the good of humanity and the preservation of our species, please don’t look at your phone when I’m talking to you. I’m sure that text is really important, but having someone’s full attention is the most delightful, rare, and generous thing you can give.
If You Get Bored
Some people are a drag. Luckily, there’s a polite way to segue out of a conversation. Smile; touch their arm or shoulder if you feel comfortable with it; look at them and say, “Great meeting you. I’m going to see what [friend’s name] is up to. Hopefully see you in a bit!” This has gotten me out of hearing detailed accounts of stranger’s medical problems, so you’re welcome.
These are guidelines, not rules. The biggest favor you can do for yourself and others is just to relax, be yourself, and be considerate. So go forth and party, connect, and make new friends. After all, friends are good for your health.
PHOTO CREDIT: H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile