[PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Beta Guide series advises men on strategy and tactics to improve their SMP value and help them live better, more fulfilling lives.]
If you are looking to improve your natural social ability, a great compliment to actual social interaction and “field work” is observing other people in their natural habitat and taking note of their social cues and body language – without the benefit of hearing the words they speak. It doesn’t take long before you can watch a man approach and know she’s going to shoot him down before he even says a word.
Watching a TV program with the sound off is a great way to develop this skill, and it’s amazing how quickly you can pick up the body cues when your brain is no longer inundated with constant chatter. It makes sense we’d have specialized hardware for it, we humans almost certainly inherited primate social structures and cues long before we developed communicative language abilities.
You know, why don’t you try it with meekakitty’s encore message following her “Star Trek Girl” music video (I happened to see it when my computer was muted). Skip past the music to 3:39 and watch her address with the sound off.
Notice the welcoming eye contact, firm but relaxed posture, tactical head movements, bold arm and hand motions and expressive facial moves. You don’t even have to hear what she’s saying to know it’s exciting, inviting and high-energy. (Watch for her break in character at 4:33 that almost undoes the whole sequence.)
It’s a general tendency to vastly underestimate nonverbal communication and focus on words, but we are deeply programmed to read and present with body language; those who develop good people skills understand when to leverage words and when speaking is just a pretext to perform a social valuation ritual.
For another way to look at it, consider a dog (or its ancestor the wolf). Dogs are experts at ascertaining pack structures from posture and arrangement. It’s critical for their survival – a dog needs to be able to tell if he’s in danger from another dog, and if it’s safe to approach he needs to know where he’s going to fit in the pack when he gets there.
Modern society has culturally “bred” a lot of that ability out of us, so it’s no surprise the gamers immediately picked up on the smile, the touch and the physical frame as much as openers and negs as key tools in a skilled man’s arsenal.