Gauging Your Listeners Response

Gauging your listener's response is useful in telling how interested they are in you. You can achieve this through a combination of linguistics and body language.

Linguistic clues

Checking the linguistics is a great way to see if somebody wants to chat or flirt more with you, and works equally well in social and work environments. Interpreting linguistic clues is particularly useful if you haven't got the hang of reading body language yet or want another indicator to back it up. The three simple indicators of length, personalising, and questioning give you all the clues you need.

Looking at length

Listening to the length of a response given to a question is your first linguistic clue. If the length of the answer is shorter than the question, this person is either not interested in conversing further or you're going to have to work harder to find a topic they'll be happy to converse on.

If you ask, 'Have you had a good day?' and they respond with a short 'No', they don't want to carry on with this line of questioning and you need to find a new subject. Asking open questions helps to avoid very short answers and facilitates more of a conversation.

If the answer is the same length as your question, for example 'It could've been better', they're not disinterested in conversing with you but you're going to have to do the work.

If the answer is longer than your question, you're leaping up the interested response scale: 'I've had an awful day. Seeing you is the highlight.'

When responding to questions, try to give an answer longer than the question to appear interested in the other person.

Personalising conversation

Personalising is the next clue to look for in a response. 'I', 'me', 'we', and so on are all examples of personalising a response.

In the previous section, 'It could've been better' lacks personalisation and makes telling how interested they are in continuing the conversation harder. In contrast, 'I've had an awful day. Seeing you is the highlight' provides a sign that they're keen to continue talking to you.

Asking questions

Questioning is the final clue you're looking for. Combined with length and personalising, being asked questions yourself is the linguistics jackpot. For example, 'I've had an awful day. Seeing you is the highlight. Was yours any better?'

Chapter 8: Making Conversation with Absolutely Anybody 109

Going in a positive direction

Gill met Steve at a networking event. She was drawn to him because of his outward confidence and was really pleased she'd made the effort to talk to him, because he was great company. She loved his positive attitude to everything, and it actually drew her attention to the fact that she was constantly putting herself down and was quite negative about work generally. During the conversation, she changed direction and stopped herself from being self-effacing or negative. Changing her attitude took a bit of concentration, but she noticed that when her language altered, Steve became more enthusiastic about her and their discussion. The conversation lasted the rest of the evening. Steve took Gill's card and emailed her a few weeks later to invite her to another event, where the two of them networked like demons and flirted when no one was looking.

Questioning is part of your strategy to expand on your conversation, but can also provide vital clues to let people know you're very interested in continuing talking to them.

Mirroring language

Adding mirroring to the equation helps reinforce your observations. Mirroring is simply copying what the other person is doing and applies to spoken as well as body language. If someone's interested in you, they may mirror anything from the type of language or words that you use to the way you phrase your sentences to your tone of voice. Listen to their responses to see if they adapt any of their language to copy yours.

Mirroring spoken language is as powerful as copying body language and creates an impact on people on a subconscious level. If you're not great with body language, use mirroring language as your secret weapon. Using the same types and styles of words and language as the other person in your responses immediately increases rapport.

Body language clues

Conversational body language is different to that used in the flirting steps prior to conversation. This type of body language gives an indication of how the other person is responding to you and can be used in both work and social environments.

Eyeing up eye contact

Facial language is very important when you're up close (see Chapter 10 for more on this). Eye contact is the biggest component of facial language and can be very telling. When a person's listening to you they should also be looking at you. Plenty of eye contact and/or increasing eye contact are positive signs.

When a person is attracted to you, their eyes can become wetter, A®JJ giving the appearance of a twinkle or sparkle.

kCt Research shows that the pupils dilate if a person finds you attractive. As a stand-alone clue, pupil dilation is unreliable, however, as bright lights make the pupils shrink and a dark environment makes them expand.

Expect eye contact to lessen when the other person is speaking and don't interpret it as a negative sign.

Showing the Way with their hands

Touching is a way of accentuating a message. When someone likes you, they often touch themselves in a way that draws attention to their vulnerable spots (which we ordinarily protect), such as pulling a chain at the nape of their neck, or that shows where they would like you to be touching them, such as rubbing their arm or thigh or touching their face or lips. The people in Figure 8-1 demonstrate this: the woman by drawing attention to her low-cut neckline and her thigh, and the man by placing his hand near his crotch.

Figure 8-1: Leading with hands.

Leaning in to listen

A person's posture can tell you if they're interested in your conversation. Leaning back in their seat and not looking at you is a clear indication that you're boring them. In contrast, leaning in towards you clearly demonstrates interest.

Chapter 8: Making Conversation with Absolutely Anybody ///

I beg your pardon?

Abandoning a conversation just because you can't hear it isn't necessary. You can use your body language and proximity to show your interest, which is sometimes more effective and easier than trying to make dazzling conversation.

Mike was at a wedding and was struggling to hear what was being said against the background noise. He kept asking the woman to his left to repeat herself, but still couldn't make out what she was saying. It was seriously impeding the conversation. In the end, Mike just leaned in to listen to her and although he couldn't make out everything that she was saying, he could tell whether it was positive or not by her facial gestures and the inflection in her voice. He managed to laugh in the right places and give the appearance of hanging on her every word. Eventually, Mike asked her if she wanted to go to the lounge for a drink. He was relieved that it was much quieter in the bar and he could actually hear her. They sat on a sofa next to each other and this time she leant in close. Both her words and her intentions were now clear!

w Next time you're in a restaurant or bar, observe the postures of the people chatting. Friends mirror each other's posture by IvvJJ leaning in to listen. Can you spot people rowing, or those that aren't interested in each other by their posture alone?

Figure 8-2 illustrates the man's bad listening posture, which is very conversation limiting, and the woman's good listening posture, where the person is keen to hear what the other person is saying.

Figure 8-2 illustrates the man's bad listening posture, which is very conversation limiting, and the woman's good listening posture, where the person is keen to hear what the other person is saying.

Listening Posture

Getting your face in gear

Jo wondered why all the people she met seemed to be strange. Despite being attractive and friendly, regular people didn't seem to want anything to do with her. Jo's problem was that nobody had told her face to be friendly. She'd been very shy as a child and had got into the habit of frowning at people she didn't know. She still had that habit twenty years later. Most people were put off speaking to her because her frown stayed in place until she decided if she liked them or not. The odd bods didn't seem to mind if she frowned or not and gravitated towards her. Jo learned to put on a fake smile when she spoke to strangers. It felt odd for her at first, but once she saw the instant effect it had on people, she developed a more natural smile.

Positive facial language and expressions widen your choice of people to talk to and create more meaningful conversations.

Watching for changes in expression

Some people are more animated than others, but being interested in what someone is saying and not changing your expression is actually almost impossible. If someone's hanging on your every word, their facial expressions mirror yours - so avoid frowning! Head nods and tilts, smiling, frowning, eye contact, and blinking are all non-verbal ways of engaging in dialogue, without interrupting the flow of conversation.

Think about the people you find it easy and enjoyable to chat to; they probably all use facial expression to good effect. Now think about people you find it difficult or awkward to converse with; they inevitably use limited facial expressions and/or won't lean in to listen. Be conscious of your own changes in expression during every conversation.

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