How to Win Their Heart by Responding to Their “Inner Infant”

Remember the old joke? The comic comes onstage and the first words out of his mouth are, "Well, how do you like me so far?"

The audience always cracks up. Why? Because we all silently ask that question. Whenever we meet someone, we know, consciously or subconsciously, how they're reacting to us.

Do they look at us? Do they smile? Do they lean toward us?

Do they somehow recognize how wonderful and special we are?

We like those people. They have good taste. Or do they turn away, obviously unimpressed by our magnificence. The cretins!

Two people getting to know each other are like little puppies sniffing each other out. We don't have tails that wag or hair that bristles. But we do have eyes that narrow or widen. And hands that flash knuckles or subconsciously soften in the palms-up "I submit" position. We have dozens of other involuntary reactions that take place in the first few moments of togetherness. Attorneys conducting voir dire are exquisitely aware of this. They pay close attention to your instinctive body reactions. They watch to see how fully you are facing them and just how far forward or back you're leaning while answering their questions. They check out your hands. Are they softly open, palms up, signifying acceptance of the ideas they're expressing? Or are you making a slight fist, knuckles out, signaling rejection? They scrutinize your face for the split seconds you break eye contact when discussing relevant subjects like your feelings on big awards for damages or the death penalty. Sometimes attorneys bring along a legal assistant whose sole job is to sit on the sidelines and take precise note of your every fidget.

An interesting aside: trial lawyers often choose women to do this twitch-andturn spying job because, traditionally, females are sharper observers of subtle body cues than males. Women, more sensitive to emotions than men, often ask their husbands, "Is something bothering you, Honey?" (These supersensitive women accuse their husbands of being so insensitive to emotions that they wouldn't notice anything is wrong until their neckties are drenched in her tears.)

The attorney and the assistant then review your "score" on the dozens of subconscious signals you flashed. Depending on their tally, you could find yourself on jury duty or twiddling your thumbs back in the juror's waiting room.

Trial lawyers are so conscious of body language that, in the 1960s during the famous trial of the Chicago Seven, defense attorney William Kuntsler actually made a legal objection to Judge Julius Hoffman's posture. During the summation by the prosecution, Judge Hoffman leaned forward, which, accused Kuntsler, sent a message to the jury of attention and interest. During his defense summation, complained Kuntsler, Judge Hoffman leaned back, sending the jury a subliminal message of disinterest. You're on Trial—and You Only Have Ten Seconds

Like attorneys deciding whether they want you on their case, everybody you meet makes a subconscious judgment on whether they want you in their lives. They base their verdict greatly on the same signals, your body-language answer to their unspoken question, "Well, how do you like me so far?"

The first few moments of your reactions set the stage upon which the entire relationship will be played out. If you ever want anything from the new acquaintance, your unspoken answer to their unspoken question, "How do you like me so far?" must be, "Wow! I really like you."

When a little four year old feels bashful, he slumps, puts his arms up in front of his chest, steps back, and hides behind Mommy's skirt. However, when little Johnny sees Daddy come home, he runs up to him, he smiles, his eyes get wide, and he opens his arms for a hug. A loving child's body is like a tiny flower bud unfolding to the sunshine.

Twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years of life on earth make little difference. When forty-year-old Johnny is feeling timid, he slumps and folds his arms in front of his chest. When he wants to reject a salesman or business colleague, he turns away and closes him off with a myriad of body signals. However, when welcoming his loved one home after an absence, big Johnny opens his body to her like a giant daffodil spreading its petals to the sun after a rainstorm.

Treat People Like Big Babies

Once I was at a corporate star-studded party with an attractive, recently divorced friend of mine. Carla had been a copywriter with one of the leading

advertising agencies which, like so many companies then, had downsized.

My girlfriend was both out of work and out of a relationship.

At this particular party, the pickings for Carla were good, both personally and professionally. Several times as Carla and I stood talking, one good-looking corporate male beast or another would find himself within a few feet of us. More often than not, one of these desirable males would flash his teeth at Carla. She sometimes graced the tentatively courting male with a quick smile over her shoulder. But then she'd turn back to our mundane conversation as though she were hanging on my every word. I knew she was trying not to look anxious, but inside Carla was crying out, "Why doesn't he come speak to us?"

Right after one prize corporate Big Cat smiled but, because of Carla's minimal reaction, wandered back into the social jungle, I had to say, "Carla, do you know who that was? He's the head of the Young & Rubicam in Paris. They're looking for copywriters willing to relocate. And he's single!" Carla moaned.

Just then we heard a little voice down by Carla's left knee.

"Hello!" We looked down simultaneously. Little five-year-old Willie, the hostess's adorable young son, was tugging on Carla's skirt, obviously craving attention.

"Well, well, well," Carla cried out, a big smile erupting all over her face. Carla turned toward him. Carla kneeled down, touched little Willie's elbow, and crooned, "Well, hello there, Willie. How are you enjoying Mommy's nice party?"

Little Willie beamed.

When little Willie finally trundled off to tug on the garments of the next group of potential attention givers, Carla and I returned to our grown-up conversing. During our chat, corporate beasts continued to stalk Carla with their eyes and she continued casting half smiles at them. She was obviously disappointed none of them was making a further approach. I had to bite my tongue. Finally, when I felt it was going to bleed from the pressure of my teeth, I said, "Carla, have you been noticing that four or five men have come over and smiled at you."

"Yes," Carla whispered, her eyes darting nervously around the room lest anyone overhear us.

"And you've been giving them little half smiles," I continued.

"Yes," she murmured, now confused at my question.

"Remember when little Willie came up and tugged on your skirt? Do you recall how you smiled that beautiful big smile of yours, turned toward him, and welcomed him into our grown-up conversation?"

"Yee-es," she answered haltingly.

"Well, I have a request, Carla. I want you to give the next man who smiles at you that same big smile you gave Willie. I want you to turn toward him just like you did then. Maybe even reach out and touch his arm like you did Willie's, and then welcome him into our conversation."

"Oh Leil, I couldn't do that."

"Carla, do it!" Sure enough, within a few minutes, another attractive man wandered our way and smiled. Carla played her role to perfection. She flashed her beautiful teeth, turned fully toward him, and said, "Hello, come join us." He wasted no time accepting Carla's invitation. After a few moments, I excused myself. Neither noticed my departure because they were in animated conversation. The last glimpse I had of my friend at the party was her floating out the door on the arm of her new friend.

Just then the technique I call "The Big-Baby Pivot" was born. It is a skill that will help you win whatever your heart desires from whatever type of beasts you encounter in the social or corporate jungle.


The Big-Baby Pivot

Give everyone you meet The Big-Baby Pivot. The instant the two of you are introduced, reward your new acquaintance. Give the warm smile, the total-body turn, and the undivided attention you would give a tiny tyke who crawled up to your feet, turned a precious face up to yours, and beamed a big toothless grin.

Pivoting 100 percent toward the new person shouts "I think you are very, very special."

Remember, buried deep inside everyone is a big baby who is rattling the crib, wailing out for recognition of how very special he or she is.

The following technique reinforces the big baby's suspicion that he or she is, indeed, the center of the universe.