Transcript of The Guide to Figuring People Out
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John Jantsch: [00:00:00] What if there was a guide to figuring people out. Well, apparently there is and you can learn about it when you listen to me interview Vanessa Van Edwards, the author of ‘Captivate-The Science of Succeeding with People’. Check it out.
John Jantsch: [00:00:29] This episode of the Duct Tape marketing podcast is brought to you by Active Campaign. This is really my new go to CRM ESP marketing automation, really low cost, any sized business can get into it. Starting at like 19 bucks a month, you can keep track of your clients, you can see who is visiting your website, you can follow up based on behavior- Check out Active Campaign, there will be a link in the show notes but it’s ducttape.me/dtmactive. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Vanessa Van Edwards. She is a behavioral investigator, author, public speaking and body language trainer but she has fun telling people that. She is also the author of a book called ‘Captivate- The Science of Succeeding with People’ and hangs out at scienceofpeople.com. So Vanessa, thanks for joining me.
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:01:28] Thanks for having me.
John Jantsch: [00:01:30] So, your book delivers on the premise of being able to figure out what makes people tick. That’s almost a little scary, isn’t it?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:01:40] A little bit, it’s kind of like a secret super power and it’s especially for people- I was one of those people where people skills just did not come naturally for me and so I was like, if there was a computer programming book, but for people, what would that book be like and that was how I sort of came up with the idea.
John Jantsch: [00:01:58] What’s interesting is that my first thought is, “Oh, okay, I’m going to read this book so that I can figure out what people are doing and thinking and read their body language,” and immediately it became apparent to me that, “Wait a minute, I’m doing some of those things you are talking about,” [laughter] and it’s really—pretty starts with self-awareness, doesn’t it?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:02:17] Yeah, I think that you are your own best expert, right. You have been living with yourself for more years than anyone else and so it’s very helpful when you can have personal aha moments. For example, we talk about speed reading, speed reading is something that– Speed reading people not speed reading books and that’s always something I’ve been fascinated with because, in first impressions, you have this three to seven seconds window where you basically have to decide, do I like this person, do I trust this person and do I want to work with this person. So I was like if you had to speed read someone for all these things very quickly, what would you do. It’s so much helpful if you know how people speed read you to be able to see it and recognize it in others.
John Jantsch: [00:03:00] Yeah. So how much of it though is— we all see a group of people and think, “Oh, I’m attracted to that person,” and maybe it’s purely out of, I think that person is attractive. So how much of the first impression is that?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:03:15] So attraction is an interesting topic that you bring up. When I think about attraction, I think that it’s usually only used for physical attraction right, we think like, “Oh! That person is beautiful, that person is handsome,” but I actually think attraction is much more than that. I think that we can have business crushes, I think we can have social crushes and that’s when something hooks you or grabs you, and a lot of it actually has to do with similarity as opposed to physicality.
What I mean by that is there is a really interesting study about the similarity-attraction effect which basically talks about how we love people who are similar to us, so much so that this is not just values, we are even most attracted to people that have the most similar psychological issues to us. So this kind of—I’m going to take it to the extreme so we can use it in more and more simple situations but this is one of the studies that they did that they had people take personality disorder tests. So everything from narcissism to borderline personality to mere depression. They had them take all these tests and they kind of placed them in a spectrum. Most people fall on a spectrum for all of these different personality disorders and they found that when they asked people to rate their headshots on attractiveness, people chose someone who is most similar to their own disorder. So in other words, we like our own kind of crazy [laughter].
John Jantsch: [00:04:45] But that’s without knowledge of what that disorder was, it was just purely something about the structure of the face gave it away?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:04:53] Yes, the structure of the face, the structure of the face, the micro expression of the face, the micro expression, the body language. It was just a very simple headshot and they think there is something about, when we know someone, we are both comfortable with them because it feels familiar and we feel less scared that we will be judged. So for example, all of us and this is a big statement that I think I’m going to make but all of us usually have something that we are afraid people are going to find out. So in most social interactions, we are in a way carrying a secret with us and that secret could be something as small as I’m extremely shy, that could be something very simple or it could be something as big as I take pills or whatever it is, something like that and so when we feel that someone might have the same secret, it makes us feel less afraid.
John Jantsch: [00:05:44] Why do you know every time I go on stage I’m afraid that people are going to understand that I’m a complete fraud so… [laughter] Isn’t that really a common fear? I’m joking. Well, Halfway joking but that’ a real common fear, I think that with speakers it’s that they feel like, I’m put up here and I’m supposed to be important and the expert in this and that but there is a side of me that wonders even if I know what am talking about.
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:06:07] Yes, classic imposter syndrome and the interesting thing about imposter syndrome, and I have the same thing is that I believe that fear is this really interesting emotion that I call it a cross thruster. I think that fear is this emotion that crossdresses or dresses up as other emotions. For example, if you are afraid that the audience is going to think that you are a fraud that fear doesn’t actually come out as nervousness. It may come out as cockiness or inappropriate humor or overly personal. It comes out as other things and so a lot of the time we were talking about unique people or difficult people or misunderstandings. I always ask, how their fear is dressing up, that helps you solve a lot of their problems.
John Jantsch: [00:07:00] So, you have broken this book very conveniently I think, into a couple of sections with fives, the first five minutes, the first five hours, the first five days and it really kind of compartmentalize a lot of this but let’s start with the first five minutes because everybody knows that first impression. We all want to be instantly likable. So what are some of the best practices if you want to become instantly likable because I know everybody wants this and probably it’s different for everyone.
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:07:32] Yeah, so I think that the biggest one that we don’t hear about is—because I think that the first impression is talked about quite a lot. One that took me a longer to figure out because I didn’t hear this as much was that, when you think about social interactions you actually have to think about it like playing on a sports team or playing a game in that if you do not optimize to your natural abilities, you will have to work way harder than everyone else and so I accidently discovered this because in my 20’s—I’m so glad I’m out of my 20’s, I’m so glad. When I was in my 20’s it was like, loud bars, concerts, night clubs and I would go to this birthday parties and these events and just be miserable. It was like, forget interesting conversations, it was like just try to not hide in a corner and that was sort of me and what I realized was that was not how I best interact with people. Everyone has a different flavor of charisma and most books teach about one flavor of charisma. They teach only the bubbly extrovert.
John Jantsch: [00:07:32] Yeah, do these things.
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:07:36] Yeah, but if you are not a bubbly extrovert, it is so much harder to do that. So my brand of charisma is one on one conversations and so I optimize now my social interactions before you even show up, to where I thrive. So what I would challenge everyone to think about is, before you even show up and make the first impression is, what is your sport, where do you thrive? Is it small parties, the dinner parties? Is it teaching? Is it conferences and workshops? What is the best way you interact? Because that is going to be much easier to optimize than trying to do it in a place where you survive.
John Jantsch: [00:09:13] So one of the things—I reference my father all the time, he was my mentor for sales because he was just the old kind of bag carrying say door to door, not door to door necessarily but town to town [laughs] sales person and one of the things I remember him telling me was that quite often he would go calling somebody and he would kind of model their behavior. If they were very slouchy on their chair he would get that way, if they were very direct and leaning forward, he would do that and there was a feeling that this kind of modeling made him more likable because it made him more like them. Is there any truth in that?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:09:52] Yeah, very much. That’s a very intuitive sales tactic in the sense that we have what are called neurons. So if we sense that someone—we automatically try to mirror the person we are with and the more we are like them in terms of body language or voice tone, the more we feel like feel like this person gets me. What’s interesting about this is—I experienced it in a different way, I was at a hotel and I was checking out really early in the morning. I think my flight was like 6 am, something terrible. So I am barely awake rolling my bags in the lobby and the [indecipherable 00:10:28] that’s to check me out or the desk person was like, “Good morning!” [laughter] and I just looked at her and realized it was a really interesting moment of– she has been taught that a good sales person, like that one brand of charisma, the bubbly extrovert, should always be friendly and chirpily and smiley but the context and my emotional level did not match. I was clearly exhausted and barely awake. She would have much been better off in a lower more whisper like voice saying, “Good morning! How is it going this morning? Can I help you check out more quickly?” That would have matched me better and so I think that mirroring and matching is important for the person but also contextually, like time of day, where you are, don’t take every piece of sales advice by yourself.
John Jantsch: [00:11:16] So where does the fact people get really good at this or they may be more intuitive in this and then it actually turns into manipulation or kind of faking who you really are. Where does that come into this conversation?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:11:31] Oh! Such a good question. I despise the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’. I think it just sends the wrong message. Research shows that we can sense inauthenticity in a second and so I think that showing up to an event and pretending to be something you are not until it happens just doesn’t work. So first of all I think, never try to be something that you are not, which we have heard before but the more practical aspect of that is that you avoid that very fine line between behavior hacking, which is what I do and manipulation, and there is a very fine line there because I think always using your power for good not evil. So if my number one goal in interacting with someone in a networking event or a conference is to figure out as much as I possibly can figure about them so I can better serve them, that to me feels like a very authentic and good motivation. If someone says to me I want to use your speed reading techniques and your personality science to convince someone into paying double, even when they can’t afford it, no [laughter]. That I think is using power for evil and not good. So I think it’s actually your intention going into it as opposed to what skills you use.
John Jantsch: [00:12:43] How important are some of the common things people talk about, eye contact, handshakes, looking down at your shoes, crossing your legs, all those kind of body languages things that people do, they probably don’t realize they are doing. Do we need—is there a handshake that we have to practice if we—if we don’t do it well. Are those elements something that you just have to sort of swallow in and do?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:13:10] Yeah, so I decided in this book, to not go with the basics that we have all heard before, so I don’t really talk about that very much. However, I think that what you ask is really important in the sense of, okay you suck it up and do the handshake and the eye contact. The problem with body language specifically is that not all eye contact is created equal, not all handshakes are created equal. So for example, if you look at handshake science, for instance, a lot of NBAs have been taught. Always make the handshake, always go in for the handshake at that bond. That is true, however, if you go in for a handshake that is either—that you flip someone up or down so that it’s not a vertical handshake, and what I mean by that is that if you hold out your hand like kind of in the air right now—I’m doing it right now, you can’t see me but if you hold out to shake, your thumb should be up towards the ceiling and the pinkie should be down to the floor, totally vertical. If you have someone who tilts their hands so that their palm is facing the floor and their back of the hand is facing the ceiling, that is actually a very dominant handshake and it could come across as quite domineering, very controlling and so if you are making a handshake when you are making a handshake where you are accidentally sending the wrong body language signals, which is called encoding, then it’s actually worse, you are sending off the wrong signals.
So I always say the things that sound simple, it’s usually not as simple as you think and you want to do it in a way that is encoding it in the right way. So for a handshake, always make sure you are keeping it very vertical. You are not flipping up or flipping down, and you are also making sure that you are squeezing—the tension, you are squeezing like a peach and the best way I can think to describe a handshake is, you know that you are going too hard or too soft when you squeeze someone and they squeeze back just like the peach. Like when you pick up a peach at the grocery store and you squeeze to see if it is ripe, it is soft at first and as soon as you feel a little of hardness you stop squeezing, it’s the exact same thing with a handshake. So that way you are kind of gauging to not over shake someone’s hands if their level of firmness is different than yours.
John Jantsch: [00:15:16] This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Thrive Leads. This is a tool that we use on the Duct Tape marketing website to thoroughly—for content upgrades, for slide-in boxes, actually we also use the visual editor for all the pages and landing pages that we design. So go check it out at ducttapemarketing.com. We will have special links in the show notes for today and check it out.
So do you find yourself—I’m a little side path here [laughter]. So do you find yourself constantly analyzing handshakes, eye contact, the way people stand and—by the way I’m standing very tall right now with my hands on my hips by the way.
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:16:00] I can hear it. I can hear [laughter]. I like it. Yes and no. However, I did sign up for that. What I mean by that is when I was younger I always joked that I’m recovering awkward person. I was so obsessed with trying to read people but had no skills to read people that I was constantly questioning myself. So when I finally learned the skills to read micro expressions and handshakes and pick up the decoding and encoding signals it was actually a relief for me. I find that as a non-natural people person, that for me feels like information. It makes me calmer and makes you feel like I’m in control. So that works for me but I do think that it gets a lot more natural after a while. So yes, but I think that I want it that way. If that makes sense.
John Jantsch: [00:16:48] Yes, absolutely. So a lot of business folks end up using these kinds of skills or needing these kinds of skills in sales situations but probably more often than not is that dreaded kind of networking event that they end up having more anxiety about. And you have in the book, I think it’s fascinating. I felt like I was reading a sports playbook and exactly on how to kind of attack a room or work a networking event and again not in a sort of fake way but just in kind of the most efficient optimized way but with a little bit of data behind it and you want to explain kind of your—I know it’s a whole chapter almost but you want to explain kind of that idea?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:17:36] I would love it. So this was an experiment that I did where– again nothing comes naturally to me. So assuming that it was a blank slate socially and I would walk into a networking event or party or conference and be like, what do I do first? Where do I stand? How do I talk to people? And just be like—and what would end up happening is I would be frozen at the door, kind of like covering the door, like hovering by the bathroom. And so what I did was I’d set up an experiment, so I ran a human behavior research lab and what we did is we asked the participants if we could film their networking events, their conferences, their big open rooms from every angle so we had a camera on each corner and that also track people as they move throughout the event. So when someone came to an event we did this with hundreds of people. They filled out a little pre-formed that said something like, “What’s your goal tonight? How do you feel about networking? And how many people do you already know here or do you think you’ll know?” And then we would track people as they move throughout the event. We would count how many handshakes they had and at the end of the event. We would ask them, “How many cards did you get? Did you complete your goals for this networking event?” and then we would look at their contacts on linked in basically trying to find what super networkers do differently to work a room. Literally physically to work a room.
We ended up finding there was a very similar pattern between these top networkers and we—when I say top networkers I don’t necessarily mean quantity connections, I mean quality connections so they were getting the most business cards and then following up with those people afterward. They tended to have longer and warmer interactions. What we found was is they avoid– I split up the room into the sides zone, the start zone and the social zone and if you want to avoid the side zone, hovering by the bathroom and hovering by the food is actually– that was a no go zone. People may have very little connection there. The start zone is another place you do not want to stand. Surprisingly you don’t want to hover right where people enter because they’re kind of getting their bearings and they are probably going to excuse themselves from talking to you faster. And instead, we found these social zones, these sweet spots, and one of them our favorites. There’s three of them one of them is standing right in front the bar. And that seems to be where all the super networkers stood to make new connections and kind of revive old ones. Right as someone turns their back to the bar they have a fresh drink in their hands and they’re looking at the room going, “Who am I going to talk to?” You are their savior, you’re the person who’s right there being like, “Hey, so how’s the wine? Right. Really easy opening line and it just works like magic.
John Jantsch: [00:20:22] So have you found– I know the first time that I started pretty routinely getting or seeing videos of me speaking I was aghast at a few of my habits [laughter] and I was like, oh! I got to stop doing that. Are there kind of some common body language things that a lot of people do for various reasons maybe but that you say, “Just don’t ever do those things”?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:20:48] Oh gosh! There are so many. Yeah. The biggest one that I’d seen was common, remember that we watched thousands of hours of these networking events and it was fascinating from a different level in terms of like office crushes and things like that. I joke that I can always tell who has an office crush on who and one of the reasons for this is because we pay a lot of attention to feet. Feet are like the hidden keys in body language and the reason for that is because most people are unaware of their foot behavior and also don’t think it matters because it’s so far from our line of sight.
If you’re talking to someone at networking event. You actually cannot see someone’s feet without specifically looking down at their feet. We can see their hand gestures out of the corner of her eye, we can see kind of their torso but feet, if you have the opportunity to look and or you’re in control of your own feet is something called distancing behavior. So distancing behavior is when someone literally takes a step back pivots their foot out or angles out or rocks back and opens up. What this means is basically that someone is a little bit less engaged and it happened for a variety reasons, like someone could angle out or step back because they have to check their parking or because they’re bored or because someone said something they didn’t like. You can almost sense or see the moment in a conversation where someone says something that they are offended by because they will lean back take a step back or pivot out. And so I’m always very, very aware of where is someone’s feet when we first start talking. Do they have one foot out? To me that usually means they’re not 100% in with me which is totally fine. I need to work that connection a little bit more or they’re really aligned with me, both their feet are facing towards me and then I lose them midway through the conversation and I might even say I’m like, “Hey let’s get a drink refill,” or “I’ll catch up with you later on, I’m going to grab something from the buffet.” That is a subtle signal to know what someone’s thinking and for yourself, if you want to show engagement, you want to make sure that you’re angling towards the person as much as possible.
John Jantsch: [00:22:55] So I don’t watch a ton of television but the other day I came across a show that I watched for about ten minutes called The Mentalist. And I noticed that you had it on your site. How much—well, so setting up the premise that is this person is a specialist and watching jurors, I think it is and their body language really with kind of helping law firms or lawyers figure out who’s with them who’s not against them what message is hitting. How much truth is there to that show?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:23:27] I wish I knew specifics. I would say that some of the human behavior truth they speak of especially when they reference a specific scientific topic. It is it is accurate. So they’ll say something like, “According to the similarity-attraction effect or according to the icky effect. “ That is usually when they’re hitting on a truth. Now how they use the truth [laughs] a little bit more of fiction but the reason why I think it’s interesting is because they will often bring up universal human behavior truths that have been cited in psychological peer-reviewed citations, that is. Which are great to sort of see how you would apply it in your life.
What’s a little bit more accurate one, if you want to know the actual science is the show ‘Lie to Me’ which is on Netflix. It’s a great show. That show is based on a real-life man who I featured in the book. His name is Dr. Paul Ekman and he discovered micro expression. What Dr. Paul Ekman did when he worked for the show is he actually has a blog with every single episode and he tells you that the real and fake science of every single episode. So I love that because he actually tells you what’s real or not, so I would often watch that show and then pull up the blog and read it alongside the show. So that’s actually my favorite one for learning real human behavior tricks.
John Jantsch: [00:24:44] So I’m speaking with Vanessa Van Edwards, she is the author of ‘Captivate’ which is available in April of 2017. One last question. So we already talked about a huge benefit, people want to be likable but you suggest that there are far greater benefits like making more money, getting the positions you want, influencing people, that really come into play here. So you want to talk a little bit about some of the expanded benefits of this idea?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:25:13] Yeah I think that PQ is the new IQ. We talk about PQ, we talk about people intelligence and we’ve known that social emotion intelligence is important but we haven’t known how important it is and there are so many studies that show that. When you go into an interview or a negotiation or a meeting and you prepare all the things you want to say, actually someone decides how they feel about you within the first five to 20 seconds. And that has a lot to do with body language, first impression, opening lines and the rapport building that happens after that confirms that role that they hope that they made, that could really hold the meaning beginning. So a lot of people work really hard on their technical skills and I don’t know about people listening but I felt a little fooled by schools in a certain sense. I focused a lot on my grades and my technical skills. And so I completely neglected all the people skills, the soft skills and so I think that we can turn soft skills into hard skills. I do not think it has to be gray. I think it can be black and white and that is, I think far more beneficial for us as adults who are trying to get ahead. It’s the missing link I think in a lot of people’s success.
John Jantsch: [00:26:25] So at the Science of people you have– and part of the book you have a PQ test which I think is rather fascinating. I have not completed it yet but I’ll let you know how I do but you also have some bonuses for book buyers you want to talk a little bit about that?
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:26:43] Yes. So I knew that you would be picking up the book for different reasons. Some people for business, some people singles wanting to up their romance like other people wanting to make friends and so when you get the book we also had a kind of choose your own adventure. The chapters that are best for romance business or social depending on your flavor.
We also have a chapter that we didn’t put in the book that is sort of a hidden extra chapter where I talk about being a human Swiss Army knife which is just like you want to learn karate moves for every potentially dangerous situation. I will give you all those secret moves that you can put in any social situations. So those are kind of some fun extra as well as we have a bunch of videos and stuff too. You’re a visual learner. I get it. We have a lot of videos too.
John Jantsch: [00:27:29] Awesome. Vanessa, thanks so much for joining us. Pick up ‘Captivate-She Science of Succeeding with People’ and hopefully we’ll see you next time in Portland.
Vanessa Van Edwards: [00:27:39] Thank you so much, John.