Sunday, December 31, 2006

How to Establish Subconscious Similarity

How to Instantly Make Your Quarry Feel, "Why, We're Just Alike!" Have you ever met anyone and immediately felt, "This person and I have a lot in common"? Instant charisma, instant chemistry, instant intimacy, instant liking. Conversely, you might have met someone and thought, "This individual is from a different planet!" Instant apathy, instant indifference, instant coldness, instant dislike. Every time you meet someone, you have sentiments ranging between the two extremes. You couldn't put your finger on why you felt that way. You just somehow sensed it. You probably weren't conscious of it, but their choice of words had a lot to do with how you felt about them. Likewise, your choice of words exposed a lot about you to your Quarry. Our words reveal how we think. Our words peg us into one social class or another. Our words hint at our professional affiliation, our philosophical leanings, our interests, and even our outlook on life. Our seemingly arbitrary choice of words reveals how we perceive the world. In certain European countries, it's more obvious. There can be five or ten languages, or dialects, within the mother tongue. When two people who speak the same dialect are introduced to each other somewhere outside of their region, they practically fall into each other's arms in recognition of their similar backgrounds. We have dialects, too. We just aren't aware of them. America—bigger than all of Western Europe—has thousands of what we'll call dialects. These are different ways of speaking that depend on our region, our job, our interests, and our upbringing. Maybe it's because our country is so large that our language, American English, is so bountiful in its number of words. Whatever the reason, American English has a richer choice of words for saying the same things than practically any other language. To establish similarity, you can employ a subliminal linguistic device that is easy to use but punches a powerful wallop. You can make your Quarry feel that you are part of his or her family just by your choice of words. Words to Give Your Quarry "That Family Feeling" Cliques of people use the same phrases. Family members and friends use the same words with each other. Colleagues in a company or members in a club talk alike. Everyone you meet has his or her own language that subliminally distinguishes family, friends, and coworkers from outsiders. The words all may be English, but the choices vary from area to area, industry to industry, and even family to family. Perhaps you don't notice it, but your Quarry has a special way of speaking that links him or her to a special world of family, friends, job, and outlook on life. To give the subliminal feeling to your Quarry that you are like him or her, you can echo these words. All it takes is a little careful listening. Words have different connotations to different people. You remember from school that a word's denotation is what it liter- ally means. The connotation is all the meanings, the atmosphere surrounding it—how the word feels. To make your Quarry feel close to you, use the exact words he or she does. Gentlemen, suppose you have just been introduced to an attractive young divorcĂ©e. In early conversation, she talks about her child, or maybe she says kid, infant, toddler, tot, or youngster. Probably everyone in her family uses the same word, so, when talking with her, use whatever word she uses to refer to the little tyke. When you echo her word, she subliminally feels a closeness to you—like you're already part of her family. My doctor is a young mother. During one of our early conversations, she mentioned her newborn. I knew the meaning of newborn, but it's not a word I use every day. In fact, I don't remember ever using the word newborn in conversation. But I asked her, ''Who looks after your newborn while you're working?'' She smiled at me. I sensed the warmth and connection she felt with me when I used her word, newborn. Ladies, say you are at a party chatting with a man. He's talking about his job, his profession, his assignment, or his commission. Be sure to use his word for his work. For example, if he were a lawyer, he'd have said profession. If you said job, he might be put off. Whereas if the handsome stranger you were talking to were a construction worker, he'd think you were being hoity-toity if you said profession. Various Quarry even use different words for the place they go to work. Lawyers say they go to the firm, broadcasters say station, architects say office, and publishing people talk about their publishing house. Echoing is crucial when you are discussing someone's job or main interest because using the wrong word can blatantly label you an outsider, a know-nothing in his or her world. People instinctively tune out someone who has little understanding of their life. Since your words reveal how much you know about their world, don't inadvertently use the wrong ones.
Booking and gig both mean a work engagement. Gentlemen, if you are talking with a fashion model, you'd better say book-
ing if you want to keep the beautiful woman's interest. Ladies, if you're talking with a young pop musician, you'd better say gig, or the dude will think you're pretty lame. If you use just one wrong word, you've struck a sour note. Remember my PMF (platonic male friend), Phil? Once we were at a party. He was standing nearby, and I overheard him chatting with an attractive actress. She was excitedly describing a new play she had just been cast in. I heard her tell Phil that she was really enjoying the rehearsals. It also sounded like she was really enjoying her conversation with Phil. "Oh," Phil piped up. "How often do you practice?" Whoops! Having some friends in the theater, I knew how that one would land. That was the last question the pretty actress stayed around for. The word is rehearse, friend, not practice. TECHNIQUE #25: ECHOING Early in a budding relationship, you don't know enough about your Quarry to invoke his values, her attitudes, or his interests. But you can hint that you feel just like your Quarry does. Simply listen carefully to the seemingly arbitrary choice of words and echo them back. It's arbitrary. Naturally, actresses practice before the show opens, but stage performers never use that word. They say rehearse. If Phil knew so little about her world as to say practice, how interesting could he be to that actress? Not ten minutes later, Phil struck again, this time in a group conversation. A gorgeous Suzie Chaffee lookalike was boasting that she had just bought a wonderful ski chalet in the mountains. "Great," said Phil. "Where is your cabin?" Her smile collapsed along with her opinion of Phil. Dumbfounded, I couldn't resist later asking my buddy, "Phil, why did you insult her by calling her chalet a cabin?" "What do you mean?" asked Phil, genuinely confused. "Cabin is a lovely word. My family has a beautiful cabin on Cape Cod, and cabin holds marvelous associations for me." OK, Phil, but the shapely skier obviously didn't like that word. (Or Phil either, now.) A new relationship is a budding flower. Uttering one wrong word can crush the little seedling before it ever has a chance to grow. "We Even Speak the Same (Body) Language" America the Beautiful is all the more so due to our cultural diversity. Happily, most people don't speak comfortably of class or social status, but we have an undeniable richness and a variety of cultural backgrounds unknown anywhere else in the world. Americans don't advertise their class and money on their forehead like a high-caste Hindu woman's jewel, but someone's background usually becomes evident after just a few minutes of talking. People with a different upbringing, of course, speak differently and dress differently. Were you aware that they also move differently? While traveling around the country giving talks, I occasionally cross paths with a woman named Genie Polo Sayles. Genie is a dynamic brunette who does a scandalously charming seminar called "How to Marry the Rich." (God bless our freedom of speech!) Genie tells this story. Once a TV crew followed her to a Las Vegas casino for an interview. The reporter grilled her on how to tell if someone was rich. "Oh, you just know," she countered confidently. "OK," the reporter challenged. "Pick out the richest man in the casino." Keenly and swiftly, Genie's sharp eyes skimmed the tables. Her scanning gaze came to an abrupt halt on a young man in jeans and an old plaid shirt. With the instinct and precision of a hunting dog, she pointed a long red fingernail directly at him and announced, "He's very rich." The reporter, gasping in disbelief, interrogated her, "How can you tell?" "He moves like old money," Genie announced. Yes, Hunters and Huntresses, there is moving like old money, moving like new money, and moving like no money. To capture the heart of the Quarry of your choice, move like his or her class. I actually became aware that people from various walks of life move in different ways when I was in college. My room-mate was a television junkie, and the constantly yammering box drove me to distraction. Out of desperation I bought her a headset so I could study in peace or simply savor the silence. But the flickering box had a hypnotic effect. Often my eyes would be drawn to the small silent screen. Because I couldn't hear the sound, I became acutely aware of how people have a different manner of gesturing, of walking. I even detected differences in how they sat down. For instance, an actress playing the part of a well-bred or wealthy woman would first bend her knees, gracefully lower her body onto the edge of the chair, and then smoothly slide back. Whereas a Beverly Hillbilly would make a fanny dive, plopping down in the middle of the sofa. For some people, class is engraved on their Lovemap. We will not address the issue of right or wrong here, nor will we delve into a discussion of how, hopefully, times are changing. The Bible says "love thy neighbor," and many people will obey, as long as their "neighbor" is from the right side of the tracks. For others, the wrong side of the tracks is the right side. They have no desire to marry up and are much more comfortable with people from their own background. Such folks are the wise ones. Studies show that marriages between people from similar backgrounds last longer and are happier than cross-caste liaisons. 32 Right after college, I decided to give myself a paid vacation and see the world. I took a job as a flight attendant with an international airline. Passengers called us stewardesses in those days. Worse, some fresh men called us stews, and we retaliated by tagging them stew-bums. My best girlfriend was another Pan Am stewardess, a spunky and attractive girl named Sandra. Together, we discovered that there were a lot of stewbums who weren't bums at all. We especially liked working the first-class cabin because, on long international flights, it was very relaxed. Often, perched on their armrests or standing in the galley, Sandra and I would enjoy chatting with our passengers. On one flight, two very elegant single gentlemen were traveling first class to Paris. They asked if we were free to join them that evening for dinner at a top Parisian restaurant. "We'd love to!" I said. But Sandra hesitated. She ran back into the lavatory and motioned me to follow. "Sandy, why?" I asked her, closing the door of the john behind us. "They seem very nice." "Well," she explained, "I'm just not comfortable around those type of people." "What, men?" I asked. "No. You know," she said. "So, uh, high-class." Sandra explained that she was comfortable chatting with them as long as she was on the plane because she knew her place, but being with them in a fancy restaurant would intimidate her. I was dumbfounded. I hadn't been weaned on caviar and champagne, but I had assumed that everybody would at least like to try it. Wrong! Many people only feel comfortable in relationships with people from their own background. Incidentally, here's the ending to the Sandra story. A few months after turning down the "high-class" dates, Sandra resigned from Pan Am to marry a short-order cook from Queens, New York. And the last time I spoke with her, she was very, very happy. TECHNIQUE #26: COPY THEIR CLASS ACT Hunters and Huntresses pursuing pedigreed prey should move differently from those stalking a wild cat. The polo-and-port set has a very different body language from the bowling-and-beer crowd. Watch how he walks, how she sits down, how he gestures, how she holds her cup. Then move like the class of your Quarry.

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