Vanessa Van Edwards (@vvanedwards) is the lead investigator at human behavior research lab Science of People and author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.

What We Discuss with Vanessa Van Edwards:

  • How to make a graceful exit with social cues.
  • How to nicely interrupt someone with social cues.
  • How to introduce someone whose name you don’t remember.
  • How to show someone you are (or are not) attracted to them with social cues.
  • How to show someone you don’t believe them with social cues.
  • And much more…

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Language is more than knowing what to say — it’s knowing how to say it whether or not words are being exchanged. And understanding the way people interact on a nonverbal level can make or break communication or cement how we perceive one another — whether positively or negatively.

In this episode, Science of People body language expert and author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People Vanessa Van Edwards gives us a ton of practicals for how we can optimize our verbal and nonverbal communication skills to captivate the attention of others through social cues. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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More About This Show

We may think we’re nailing a job interview or acing an introduction to someone new or really hitting it off with someone we find attractive, but if we don’t understand how we’re presenting ourselves through nonverbal social cues — and what others are trying to tell us with theirs — we’re missing a vastly important part of the story and risking deal-breaking misinterpretations as a result.

Thankfully, we have Science of People body language expert and Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People author Vanessa Van Edwards on deck to share some of the most useful practicals for navigating social situations with expertise grace.

Future Mentions and Graceful Exits

Even if you know how to gracefully enter a conversation and leave a great first impression, tactfully exiting a conversation and leaving a great last impression is just as important. Vanessa offers some great tips to prepare people for an exit. One is asking about the future (“What are you doing this weekend?”) to break them out of thinking in the present tense. Another might be to allude to a follow-up (“Could I get your card?” or “Let’s try to follow up on…”) to indicate things are wrapping up.

Coping with Interrupters

Vanessa has a few strategies for dealing with interrupters — people who won’t let you get a word into the conversation or always feel the need to fill the silence. She offers some nonverbal strategies to help, including “the fish” (opening your mouth as if you are about to say something) or putting your hand up, palm out.

If you slightly open your fingers in this hand up position, it’s generally perceived as being less threatening.

Cooling Down Romantic Advances

Sometimes you might find that you attract a little too much attention, and you want to cool things down before the other person crosses a boundary that could wind both of you up in HR before lunchtime.

Sometimes you might mistakenly convey recriprocal attraction in ways that seem unlikely on the surface. Even just smiling and nodding in reaction to what someone’s saying can be misconstrued to mean more than what you’re trying to convey. And if you happen to be someone who communicates by touching and laughing, these haptics can supercharge the miscommunication further.

When you want to clearly indicate that you’re not romantically attracted to the other person in the conversation, resist the urge to smile, laugh, nod, or touch them. You can still display engagement by a slight tilt of the head without giving the wrong impression.

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about ways we can exit a conversation gracefully and leave a lasting last impression, how we can interrupt a conversation politely, what we can do when we have to introduce someone whose name we’ve forgotten, how to show someone we’re attracted (or not attracted) to them, how to make it clear we don’t believe what someone is saying, and much more.

THANKS, VANESSA VAN EDWARDS!

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