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CHAPTER 12

The Third Signal: Head Tilts

Self confidence adds more to conversation than wit.

  -- LA ROCHEFOUCAULD

The motions you make with your body and head exert an inordinate influence on other people.

Even Dogs Know This Trick

If you have a dog, you probably sometimes feel that he is listening to you and that he understands you. That is why they say that a dog is man's best friend. There is a valuable lesson to be learned from your dog.

Ron on How to Look Inquisitive

Many years ago, unbeknown to me, my wife Nicky brought home a young puppy. She hadn't meant to ignore me in making this decision on her own, but had fallen in love with the dog. When I arrived home that evening, bingo, there she was, a very cute, very spotted Dalmatian puppy. Cute! I knelt down to say hello just at the moment she jumped up to say hello. There was an immediate and painful collision between her muzzle and my muzzle. The result: a broken lip -- my lip. But regardless of our first meeting, as the days, weeks, and months went by, Pepper became the love of both our lives.

We often talked to her as though she could understand. And when we spoke, Pepper would always tilt her head this way and that. She looked for all the world as though she could understand our every word. Now, common sense tells us that that is impossible, but she sure looked as though she knew what we were saying!

If you do the same and occasionally tilt your head slightly to one side as you listen to someone tell you something, it will give you a more intense, inquiring look. It's as though you are screwing your focus more tightly on the speaker. If you use this technique when the speaker is talking about something she thinks is significant, you will look very attentive and involved. She will find this little gesture of yours very charming.

Your Tools for Charming Others

The next time someone is talking to you, especially when it is about something that is important to her, try a small tilt of your head to either side. You might even practice in front of a mirror before you try it on a person, just to see how it looks.

Here's another rule: Tilt your head to listen, straighten up to speak.

Then practice combining all three of the methods you've learned thus far: Use direct eye contact with each person in every conversation, flick your gaze from eye to eye, and tilt your head to the left or right when someone is speaking to you.

They are all part of the system of signals that great listeners use to say, "I am totally focused on what you're saying."

They are small but very powerful indicators of the depth of your listening and the degree of your involvement in a conversation.

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