Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sally Field syndrome

 If you could only see me now, you’d know that I keep my palms up.

Between letters, of course.  Between pecking out each word on the keyboard, I always turn my palms up.

Sure, it slows me down, but it’s what all remarkably likeable people do.  So.  It’s my habit.  Totally unconscious.  Palms up – likeable me.

That’s one of the items I have checked off the list published by Robin Dreeke, former head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program and contributor to an article in Barking Up the Wrong Tree titled “How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert.”  Keep your palms up.

Dreeke should know, right?  After all, who doesn’t love an FBI agent?  Their dance cards are always full!

He talks about conversational techniques like actually listening to the other person instead of just waiting for your turn to talk.  But let’s continue with the basics:  non-verbals.

Palms up.  Oh, and don’t forget to smile.  In fact, if you want to increase your smile’s power – and who doesn’t? – smile slower. 

Slower?  Really?  Seems creepy, but OK.  We’re practicing our Cheshire Cat.

What’s next?  Elevated eyebrows?!  What the heck?

All right.  I’ll try it.  I just hope I don’t get that surprised look, the sure sign of an amateur facelift.  Seems like that would be off-putting, diametrically opposed to getting people to relax, and therefore making them like me, which is, of course, the goal.

I mean, picture it:  You and I are introduced in a social setting.  I take your right hand with my right hand and shake it while touching you non-sexually on the upper arm or shoulder with my left hand– following the FBI ‘like me’ protocol – and thereby deftly putting you at ease with my sincere display of friendly care and interest. 

Then, maintaining good, open, comfortable non-verbals, my palms return to their upward orientation. 

Whew!  This must be what it’s like on screening day at Quantico!

And I wonder how you, my potential target, uh, friend, feel when I expand my repertoire to include elevated eyebrows?  You might cautiously retrieve your hand and shoulder, take a step back to give me a curious once-over, your newest irresistibly affable amigo, and who would see?  Phyllis Diller?  Bozo?  Jack Nicholson?  Nancy Pelosi?!!

Those folks all have big smiles and perpetually elevated eyebrows, but I’m not sure people near them feel free of anxiety.  Think “The Shining,” or US Congress! 

Here I conclude my likeability score will be tied to the altitude of the elevation.  Therefore, I shall strive for Goldilocks eyebrows – not too high, not too low; elevated just enough to mesmerize you without tipping you off to my designs on your friendship.

OK.  So far, I’m smiling with palms up and elevated eyebrows. 

Now what’s this?  Chin down?  This is getting tricky, but I think I can manage it.  

According to Dreeke the rule of thumb in artificially friendly interactions is “anything going up and elevating is very open and comforting.  Anything that is compressing: lip compression, eyebrow compression, where you’re squishing down, that’s conveying stress.”

Well!  We, the seekers of love from all whom we encounter, can’t have that!  No siree!  We won’t be pursing our lips or squelching our facial muscles.  No!  We’re open!  We’re comfortable!  Our non-verbals convey only the sweetest and most inviting of false emotions!

One last thing:  “…if you can show a little bit of a head tilt, that’s always wonderful.”

Tilting head!?  Sure!  Right or left?  Say the word.  I’ll tilt.  No worries! 

I’m ready.  I’ve rehearsed.  I can do this.
It’s feeling a little unnatural, like I’m in a strait jacket on crutches, but hey!  It’s all for the worthwhile goal of being popular. 

Ah!  Here’s my opportunity to try the FBI’s system.  My new neighbor has stepped into the alley.  He’s looking this way.  Our eyes meet.

OK.  Here goes:  Deep breath.  Palms up.  Eyebrows lifted.  Smiling.  Slowly! 

Hello!  Let me shake your hand and touch your shoulder!  Come on!  Nice to meet you!

Hey!!  (Head tilted right.)  Where are you going?!  (Tilt left.)  You know you want to be my friend!  You know you like me! 

You really, really like me…