At A Networking Event? Let The Feet Do The Talking
You’re at a networking event. Alone and feeling socially awkward, you scan the room for people you know. Jackpot; two acquaintances are talking nearby.
The question is, should you join them or not?
The trick is to watch and read their feet. Why? Because they’re the most honest part of the body.
Body language expert and former FBI agent, Joe Navarro, explains we’re conditioned to control our facial expressions.
Think back to when told to “be nice and smile” to that crazy relative you secretly disown. Or you fake a smile to someone you barely tolerate. We’re concealing what we’re truly thinking.
Yet our limbic brain controls much of how our body reacts to our surroundings. Part of the freeze, flight or fight survival instinct that can’t be faked.
It includes our legs and feet, which we tend to largely ignore when interacting.
So, here are some cues Navarro suggests we pay attention to:
- If feet and torsos face each other, the people are fully engaged and in deep discussion. Best to leave them alone. If they turn their feet and torso towards you, you’re welcome to join them.
- If a person’s feet no longer face you, they’re ready to leave. Or prefer to be somewhere else. Be mindful and ask if they need to be go.
- When legs are crossed, pay attention to where the top leg is pointing. Towards you indicates comfort. Away from you creates a barrier with their thigh, indicating potential discomfort.
- A person moving from flat footed to a ‘starter’s position’ (heel elevated) indicates they’re ready to leave. Or interested and want to engage more. Gauge this by their level of interest.
Now that you’re feeling more prepared, be mindful not to stare as you carefully observe for cues. You want to establish rapport, not scare them away.
And always consider these cues in context of the situation.
Now go forth and nail that networking!