Tactics Tuesdays: How to Be a Warm Person
Commenting on the post on building social status, a reader asks the following about how to be a warm person:
“Hi Chase, great site, great article. Could you discuss more about warmth? You discuss it quite often, but you could dive into this topic more in-depth? It's a powerful tool to use in all aspects of life, so your breakdown of this would be much appreciated!
Happy to oblige, Anonymous.
Back in 2001, a young female customer walked back into the tire store where I worked as a technician and salesman to complete a transaction she'd begun the day before with me. I wasn't there, so another salesman helped her. "That guy who helped me yesterday was nice," she told him, referring to me, "but I felt like he had bad intentions."
When this salesman told me she'd said this, I was surprised; I knew I'd adopted an edge over the past few years - it had been designed specifically to make sure no one would want to fight me, since I was always alone and frequently in dangerous situations. But I didn't think it was actually scaring off women.
I went to work trying to change it, but even a year later, friends on my college dorm room floor told me, "The girls on the 7th floor said, 'That kid with the red hair is scary.'"
When I heard this, the first thing I thought was, "All right. I've adjusted my face for men - to be intimidating and frightening - long enough. It's time I adapt myself for women instead."
Within a few years, I was regularly hearing things like the following:
"I only just met Chase, but I felt like we'd been friends for ages."
"It's so great hanging out with you; I feel like I can tell you anything."
"Spending time talking to you makes me feel like I can breathe."
How I figured out how to be a warm person and how I made the switch to that from "scary and intimidating" is what I'll detail in this post.
You Can Learn Warmth
Sometime back, I started paying attention to what people would remark in awe about many of the most famous and successful individuals around. The one that most stuck in my mind was Bill Clinton.
"I only talked to him for a few seconds," I read someone remark about Clinton, "but I got a strong feeling he genuinely cared what I had to say, and I felt like we were old friends reconnecting."
This had been someone who'd waited in line to speak to the former president at a book signing and only had a few moments to speak with him.
He's able to make people feel this way instantly, I thought to myself. That means, it's something in his nonverbal communication that's putting people immediately at ease and communicating to them that he genuinely cares.
I had a hunch that this had something to do with relaxing your facial expressions. I knew that the scowl I was wearing at the time - a permanent and intimidating frown coupled with squinted, piercing eyes, and a slightly downturned mouth - was intimidating in part because it was an expression that required effort to maintain (at least at first), and this communicated to people that the emotion behind it was ongoing. So perhaps learning how to be a warm person meant learning to have the opposite expressions, and thus reaction from people.
To see what I mean, try putting a scowl on your face - brow furrowed, eyebrows down, eye squinted, nose crinkled up a bit, and the corners of your mouth pointing down a bit. Takes some work, doesn't it? Unless, that is, you're like I was then, and you've come to adopt this as your default expression; in that case, your face defaults to this position naturally. For most people, this is rather hard, and only happens when they're in a bad, angry, closed-off mood - exactly the opposite of warmth and openness.
So I knew that was one thing I had to change.
Another was eye contact, and another still was the feedback I was giving to people in conversation. I had only a rough, intuitive idea about how to develop this quality in myself, but using the reaction of the constant stream of people I was meeting as a guide, I was able to gauge and refine and gauge and refine until I figured out what really worked for building warmth - and what I didn't actually need.
How to Be a Warm Person
As I figured out over the years I spent working on warmth, there are a few very specific things that go into coming across warm that you can target - mostly centered on body language, facial expression, and voice, though the things you talk about in conversation are important too.
Here they are:
- Relaxed facial expressions. Due to the mirror neurons firing in each of our brains, we tend to feel the emotion that the faces of those around us are conveying as if we ourselves wore the same expressions on our faces. In fact, according to one study that filmed people's faces at a very fast clip, for a fraction of a second upon first looking at someone else's face, our own faces do mimic their expression. What this means is, people feel the way your face looks when they talk to you. If your face is tense, people feel tense around you. If your facial muscles are relaxed and open, however, they feel relaxed and open around you, instead.
How do you relax your facial muscles? Leave your eyebrows somewhat up - not like a cartoon character, but they should be up and open as if you're slightly inquisitive or curious. Eyes should be open and "big," though of course you don't want to be bug-eyed; and you'll want a slight hint of a smile about your mouth - but it should be almost undetectable. We're going for subtlety here, to elicit the right emotions in people without overdoing it.
- Relaxed body language. This one's very similar to the last one. Arms uncrossed at all times, legs uncrossed when they're pointing at someone, and the majority of your body, including your feet, pointed in their direction. The more open and relaxed your body language is with people, the more open and relaxed they are with you - and just like facial expressions, others will mimic your body language and feed it back to you. You can even get people to open up by simply using open body language while talking with them, even if their arms are crossed initially and they're somewhat turned away.
- An inviting voice. This is somewhat related to a sexy voice; if you can get a sexy voice, this one's largely taken care of. Personally, I once had a very low and harsh-sounding voice; a friend pointed out to me that when I'd start talking to a new girl, sometimes he'd see them jump in surprise by my voice. Within a few months of being told this, I'd added a lot more range to my voice and shaved off the majority of the harshness of it; a few months later and people were telling me I should be on the radio. Voice is a powerful tool, and you don't want to underestimate its ability to set people around you at ease.
- Focused eye contact. You want to focus on the position between someone's two eyes, and only divert your eyes if you're breaking eye contact, which you should do more often when you're speaking, and less often when they are. Be mindful of focusing on this spot, and not their face overall; to see this yourself, ask a friend to look at you and switch back and forth between looking intently at the spot between your eyes, and looking at your face overall. It's subtle, but one seems more focused on you while the other feels a little more "spaced out."
Human beings are incredibly sensitive to one another's eyes; you can get some people to turn their heads and look at you from across a crowded street simply by staring at their eyes intently, even when they're almost turned away from you - try it, if you haven't played around with this. If people are this sensitive to what your eyes are focused on from forty feet away, imagine how sensitive they are when you're right in front of them. Focus is very crucial, and very underrated.
- Being non-judgmental. This one's the one most people will have the hardest time getting down out of all of these, simply because your internal reactions will tend to surface externally. Truth be told, if you were the most judgmental person in the world but you never showed it, this one wouldn't matter a bit. The thing is, people always show their hand, even just a little bit; we've evolved to wear our emotions on our heart sleeves - it makes for higher individual and group survival rates and cohesion, and prevents breakdowns from people being unable to sense and respond to what others are actually feeling. But this tendency for emotions to bubble up can hurt you when it comes to being warm if you judge people and react toward them with dislike or disgust.
You must learn to respect people inside and not judge them, and this primarily comes from exposure to lots and lots of different people. The more worldly and experienced you are, the less judgmental you tend to be.
- Keeping the focus on the other person. You can be warm when talking about yourself, but you primarily want to keep the focus on the other person. This is because warmth comes from people feeling that you honestly care about them, and even if you do all the above, if all you talk about is you, the place you're in, stuff you saw on TV or read in a magazine, et cetera, no woman you're meeting is going to think you give a damn what she thinks, feels, or desires.
Keep the focus of the conversation on her; deep dive, get to know her, and make the conversation as much about her as possible. When talking about yourself, choose primarily to educate, with lessons and stories that she'll find informative and enlightening, or to inspire. Then you're constantly focused on providing value to her - either in getting to know her (when talking about her), or in providing guidance and inspiration (when discussing yourself).
If you can get these six points handled, you'll be getting the Bill Clinton reception in almost no time. People will see you as warm and comforting; they'll immediately be at ease around you, and they'll want to open up to you and get to know you.
A few caveats:
- You can only be as warm as you are comfortable. This means that in any situation where you're uncomfortable, you're going to struggle to be warm, although the better you get, the easier a time you'll have at controlling your outward displays of warmth. The best solution for this is putting yourself in as many uncomfortable situations as possible and forcing yourself to adapt. This is one reason I like nightclubs for training purposes a lot; you'll never end up in more uncomfortable social situations than you will cold approaching in a nightclub.
- Warmth does NOT equal sexiness or seduction. For that, see "How to Be a Sexy Man," "How to Seduce Women," "How to Attract Women," and other content on this site. Warmth is warmth: it's good at putting people at ease around you, generating trust, and smoothing the way for your deep dives. It does make it much easier for women to enter a sexual state around you; however, they won't enter it with warmth alone. You must combine warmth with sexiness to do that. See the two seductions in the beginning of the Val Kilmer movie The Saint for a great example of what warmth and sexiness look like put together.
So, get comfortable, and get sexy, and your warmth will be dynamite.
And, make sure you follow the six points we covered above:
- Relaxed facial expressions,
- Relaxed body language,
- An inviting voice,
- Focused eye contact,
- Being non-judgmental, and
- Keeping the focus on the other person
... and you'll have mastered figuring out how to be a warm person. All that's left after that is refining your abilities in each of these areas - and that's where practice (and lots of conversations with lots of new people) comes in.
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