Alpha Move: Do Everything Slower

Part of building my game over the past year or two has been developing a bold, deliberate physical style. The number one way I have done this is making an effort to slow down my gait and my physical gestures. I’ve found, even, that slowing down physically helps slow down my limbic system reactions, giving my rational side more time to work in high-pressure situations (more on that later).

Part of this project comes from a pair of anecdotal lessons.

The first was a college roommate of mine. He was very tall with a husky frame, but he had a dynamic and almost spastic physical mode. It was incongruent with his body, which was a good match for a strong silent type act, and sometimes threw off the “creepy” vibes.

The second was my mentor from my first real job. A middle-aged man who moonlighted as a preacher, he was the type of guy who would listen quietly during an hour-long meeting, render his considered opinion in less than two minutes and walk out with everybody thinking he had owned the room. The comfort and trust he engendered by not being overbearing, and the gravity of his pithy observations, allowed him to exert considerable soft power around the team.

Like these men, I am a tall figure with a deep resonant voice, and from their examples I learned that I filled frame-space naturally, and had less of a need to express dominance with words and our gestures. Another coworker of mine who was 5’3″ had women chasing him around the office thanks to his latent-asshole Danny DeVito shtick. He needed a complicated social persona because his body didn’t provide it for him.

The irony of this is that I didn’t realize until much later than I should have that my height and voice were great gifts, and so spent much of my beta days slouched over and modulating my voice to avoid what I perceived as the awkwardness of my baritonic pipes. Most critically, I was always working to gain status by other means (by talking up my personality or my intelligence or accomplishments), which in retrospect came off as insecure and try-hard.

I work this skill by focusing on standing tall and taking slow strides with long steps. When I’m asked to do something, I do it without looking as though I’m in a hurry to snap to their attention, and when I’m conversing I move my head and my facial reactions with marked relaxation. Being non-reactive is a proxy for outcome independence, which introduces contrast when you actually do act with great haste. If people see me really excited or walking (or talking) quickly, they know it must be serious.

As I mentioned above, moving slower helps my reaction time slow down. This sounds bad – you don’t want your mind to slow down, do you? – but it’s actually useful. What you’re doing is slowing down your visceral response system, so your rational mind has more space. If you find yourself getting quickly angry or sad or butthurt or whatever, it’s good to be able to suspend that so it doesn’t cloud the rest of the conversation. As your now-better-employed mind learns the right touch, you can reintroduce fast reaction where appropriate, but you can be confident you’re always a step ahead of others because they’re reacting while you’re thinking, and you have a much better idea of what they’re about than the other way around.

One way you can practice a non-plussed demeanor is to rehearse the lines in this post, in which radio host Tom Leykis teases and eggs on a drunken caller.

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Alpha Move: Do Everything Slower

  1. Zesty

    Do you think this applies to women too?

  2. Good post, but look up “nonplussed.” it means the opposite of what you think it means.

  3. Chef In Jeans

    This is something I’m starting to learn myself.

    Funny story, the other day at work I was incredibly busy off the bat bright and early at 6 am. Now at 6’3″ and 220lbs I’m not massive, but I’m not small. Normally I stride slowly, kind of a walk softly and carry a big stick kind of gait.

    This morning, because I was so busy with no help, I was flying around like a bat out of hell. I was putting my long legs to good use, taking heavy quickly powerful strides. I was quiet, kept to myself, and just darted around with a serious look on my face.

    I got pulled aside that day and was told that I was “making people uncomfortable” and I burst out at the manager, whom I didn’t particularly like to begin with, telling him that that was bullshit, that I literally said nothing to no one and was just doing my job.

    “Yeah well, your body language is intimidating”

    Now compare that day to every other day when I walk tall, shoulders squared, back straight, head up high, with a calm cool demeanor, no one has a thing to say.

    I learned a lot that day about how your movements, in relation to your being , can affect others perception of you, and these were people I’ve been working with for almost two years!

    Its actually a bit stressful when you think about it. As big guys society seems to naturally expect more from us. We must be calmer, cooler, and a slew of other things, all judged off that initial reaction people have upon seeing height and physical presence. Its an advantage for sure, but if you fail to live up to the standards it’ll bite you.

  4. Mike C

    Do you think this applies to women too?

    Not really. Women shouldn’t be trying to convey bold, deliberate unless they are lesbians and looking to play the masculine role. Women should be trying to convey other things to the opposite sex.

  5. Do you think this applies to women too?

    Not to disagree with Mike C, but I think the basic idea of doing things more slowly does work for women. When I told a friend that I felt my manner wasn’t feminine enough, she said, “Walk more slowly. Pretend you’re a cat.” And if I remember correctly, Helen Andelin’s term for it is “bewitching langour.” (Andelin is the author of the controversial Fascinating Womanhood.) But obviously, the effect will be different for men and women.

  6. About the voice thing…

    http://theprivateman.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/fix-your-damned-voice/

    A man’s voice can be such a great tool when used appropriately. It’s so frustrating when it’s not used effectively.

  7. Zesty,

    I think a woman can gain from this but for different reasons than a man. If a woman wants to buff up her feminine grace, she can work on being more “flowing” with her gait and, especially, being much slower to anger and to argue, instead going with the flow.

    But Mike C is correct that women don’t want to cultivate authority and boldness to up their SMV, they want to cultivate an open and non-threatening pose. Sometimes that means being more dynamic and active/friendly than I’d recommend a man be.

  8. Chef,

    Thanks for commenting under your new persona.

    “Yeah well, your body language is intimidating”

    Bingo, if you’re a big guy people will assume you can kick their ass even if you can’t, so the onus is on you to telegraph that you’re not going to do that.

  9. i HAVE to chime in here because i’m NOT a big. seriously…..i’m tiny. but i’ve been told more than once that i’m intimidating in person. there’s 2 other guys i work with that are taller than me, but still short. and they’re both VERY alpha (thank you combat with the USMC).

    it’s all in the eyes and body language. calm, assertive body language paired with a cold as steel gaze will do wonders. it’s not that slow is intimidating, it’s that it’s not so much being slower as it is being deliberate. you are in control of your environment. the unshakable lion among the pride.

    i can’t speak as a tall/big guy. but i can speak as a man who get’s shit done, thinks for himself, and can/will fight. lol. be deliberate, be exacting, be confidant. do that and you’re the king of the jungle.

  10. betasattva,

    Googled it:

    “Nonplussed:

    2. (of a person) Unperturbed.”

  11. ray

    yup slow down the physicalities, but possibly even more important, slow down speech, esp in front of a female you find attractive

    stress speeds up speech, so slowing minimizes garbled mouthfarts, and focuses her interest and attention on the next nugget youre imparting

    attitude being, i dont gots to show you no stinking badgers

  12. Michael Maier

    I find this to be an issue for me. I’m somewhat of a jittery guy, but I feel more at ease and more masterful when I force myself to calm down and be more purposeful as opposed to reactive.

    Lowering my voice works, too. When I remember to do it.

  13. Candide

    It’s not the speed, it’s the rhythm. When you slow down, it’s easier to keep a nice rhythm (body movement or speech) and you appear more attractive.

    So Badger, I saw over at Hooking Up Beta… you’re giving up Project BaBB (Build a Better Beta) cos you can’t take any more NAWALTs?

  14. Thia is classic/basic pick-up community advice I’ve been tryna hardwire into my system for over 5 years now.But the 1 aspect of doing things slowly I do manage to do effortlessly is “walking slower”.But talking slowly has been a challenge for me over the years.I still find myself rushing to get a statement or routine over,opposed to speaking slowly.

  15. Great advice, man. I noticed during my current job that I tend to speed up when telling a good story or when I’m working at a fast pace. I’ll try out moving slower, acting slower tomorrow and report back.

  16. Wow,

    I think this ties in really nicely with the current post on my blog.
    This is an example of ‘inner Game’ which when done as a result of hard work on one’s persona and therefore conveys the ‘outcome independence’ you all talk of, is very effective.

    Paradoxically, women respond to this, I am beginning to realise. Even though a man’s ‘outcome independence’ mindset makes him somewhat indifferent. But somehow, he becomes less indifferent to the right woman…if that makes sense… :-)

  17. Jordan,

    “Great advice, man. I noticed during my current job that I tend to speed up when telling a good story or when I’m working at a fast pace. I’ll try out moving slower, acting slower tomorrow and report back.”

    One of things slowing down will do is make you be more economical with words – when you cut your verbal throughput you better make each word count.

    Spacetraveller, I liked your latest post on this.

  18. REPORT: While I’ve had shit luck finding any targets during my downtime after working (the bar ratio in Greensboro, as far as I can tell, is 1:1 on a good day and full of cougars or couples), I’ve noticed that slowing down my movements and my mind has allowed me to read social interactions between me and the crew better and has allowed me to ingest their statements and give back some ego or jibe back, etc. It allows to integration with the tribe, as it were, instead of chatting away quickly and creating an outcast of yourself, if your “tribe” ends up being of the picky variety.

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  20. someone

    Women does need to slow down as well. Calling women lesbians for this is TOTAL BULLSHIT. Everyone benefits when their physical and speech movements is slow and deliberate

  21. Doc

    … and talk quieter…

    Works especially well in a club where no one can hear anyone lower than a dull roar. I usually just indicate I can’t hear anything, get up and leave. Invariably, one or more of the women tag along to go to somewhere quiet. This has the added benefit of getting them moving to somewhere different and cuts out the chaff quickly.

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