How To Be Confident Even When You Suck

The Setting

I’m sitting outside a small restaurant in Baroliche, an outdoorsy city in Patagonia that has recently become a tourist destination of sorts due to the diverse varieties of adventure trips and medium-end food that has become available since the economic downturn Argentina experienced these past few decades.

The table I’ve occupied is standard-issue: circular, large umbrella to block any potential rain, and 4 chairs as sentries, 1 to each side.

I choose my chair carefully, just as I chose my table. I position myself just so, take a moment to consciously settle my facial expression and posture, arrange my day bag and then go to work.

It doesn’t take long.

‘Buddy, do you know a good place to get a drink around here?’

I respond that there is a solid place a few blocks away with a large beer selection. The man with the question thanks me and heads that direction with his friends.

‘Are you Argentinian?’

The question comes from the bravest of a group of teenage girls. No, I say, Estados Unidos. She pauses, not quite sure what to do with the information, and then turns back and mutters something to one of the other members of her group with the resignation of someone who has lost a bet.

‘What are you up to tonight?’

Getting some sleep and hopping an early bus out of town, I tell the good-looking 20-something who asked. He looks disappointed but still grins flirtatiously as he gives me his number and tells me that if I change my mind, he’d love to buy me a drink.

The Preparation

All of this (and several more interactions) took place in the amount of time it too for me to eat a small meal in downtown Bariloche.

I had just arrived into town that afternoon and I knew absolutely no one, so I was looking for some conversation and interesting interactions. From past experience I knew that appearing calm and confident makes these kinds of encounters a lot more common, as does communicating in a non-verbal way that you are open for conversation, so I had to present the appearance of being these things (despite the fact that I was a little uncomfortable, tired and lost).

Here are some things I did to make myself appear more put-together than I was:

Scouting out the area

After dumping my carry-on at a hostel, I spent most of the day wandering around downtown Bariloche. I made sure I knew the main roads in town (by asking a few employees at the hostel) and made sure I always knew how to get back home.

From there, I snaked out in different directions, going as far as I could in one direction and then going up a block and walking back. It can be a bit tedious, but there is always plenty to see and enjoy (especially if you can take pleasure in the details).

I noted any place of interest and made a mental note about it. This is how I knew that there was a bar that offered a wide selection of beers; it stood out against the ranks of Italian restaurants and cheap empenada shacks, and I had considered checking out the happy hour earlier.

Knowing your way around also helps you feel more confident because if something bad were to happen, you’d know your way back to safety without having to think about it too hard. Just knowing how to get ‘home’ is a good start, but if you’ve walked the path several times, and from several different directions, then you can do it mindlessly or in the dark or under duress.

Positioning

Of all the tables available, I chose one that was right on a street corner and on the opposite side as everyone else that was outside. Of all the seats available I chose the one facing the crosswalk and the other people sitting outside.

The first instinct for many people in this situation will be to fall back and blend in, choosing a seat that will allow them to do their own thing and ignore everyone else around them. What if they make eye contact!? Awkward!

But eye contact is exactly what you want. Or rather, you don’t want to go out of your way to make eye contact, but you don’t want to avoid it, either.

There’s a sociological premise called ‘civil inattention’ which essentially says that in nature, we as social creatures would need to check out every new human that came into view, sniffing and shaking hands and figuring out if they are friend or foe. In developing civilization, however, we have created a kind of social contract that allows us to skip this step and just assume everyone is not an enemy until proven otherwise.

This is good because it keeps us from each others throats, but bad because it allows us to completely ignore everyone around us unless something extreme happens, and this makes it difficult to makes contact with strangers.

Eye contact helps break through this social barrier – as soon as you’ve locked eyes with someone across the room (or in this case, across the sidewalk), you’ve acknowledged their existence and they yours. Now if something happens (a handful of stray dogs loudly chasing down a man on a scooter, for example), you’ve just had a shared experience with that stranger and you will be the first person they look at for confirmation that, yes, that was a weird thing that just happened. They’ll probably only say it with their eyes, but that’s a huge step forward from where you were before (politely ignoring one another as you shared the same street corner).

Posture

I paid very close attention to my posture that night because, especially when you’re in a country where everyone else speaks a different native tongue, body language is VITAL.

I leaned back into my chair slightly, relaxed, and angled my elbows out on the armrests a bit (but not too much). Think about how your arms arch out from your body when you walk casually; this is about the right distance. The idea is to take up enough space that you look (and feel) comfortable and show confidence, but not so much that you look like a tool (you’ve seen these guys…they can’t sit down without spreading completely out and taking up as much space as possible. Don’t be that guy).

Depending on where I’m at, I’ll sometimes cross one leg over the other, but in this case I was at a table that wouldn’t allow it so I instead spread my legs out a little bit further than my arms, feet casually cocked out at slight angles (compared to where my knees pointed). I looped the shoulder-strap of my satchel over one ankle, so I knew if someone tried to snatch it while I was eating they’d have to drag me with it. This also made it clear to passersby that I wasn’t some green tourist – I’ve been around the block before, and it was likely a rougher block than this one.

The last thing to remember with posture is that there are certain body signals you can give that show you are open for conversation. Exposing certain parts of your body – the insides of your elbows, your neck, your crotch (but not too much, obviously!) and your palms – indicated that you are comfortable with your environment and not in a defensive posture (which would involve you covering up and defending the aforementioned areas, since they are delicate targets).

Minor affectations

There are a million little things that a person does when they are comfortable, and each is a bit different so I can’t tell you what yours will be.

For example, I know that when I feel good about a situation and confident with myself, I’ll let the glass I’m drinking from dangle casually from my hand, holding it from the top, sipping from between my forefinger and thumb. I also tend to allow my eyes to wander around, taking in details and purse my lips a little bit as I do.

Next time you’re feeling really comfortable and confident, take stock of yourself and what you’re doing.

It’s important to know these things because it will help you put on a strong demeanor even when you’re not feeling 100%.

The Point

And that leads us to the main point of this entire exercise: when you can portray a certain emotional state accurately outwardly, you’ll be much more likely to fall into that state shortly thereafter.

There are mountains of scientific research that show muscle memory as having a major impact on your emotional mindset. If someone is asked their opinion about something arbitrary while nodding ‘yes,’ for example, they are much more likely to respond positively than if they are nodding ‘no’ (or not nodding at all).

I’ve found this to be true over and over again. If you can identify how you act and look when you’re feeling at your best, you’ll find that it becomes much easier to make yourself actually FEEL that way on command.

Don’t

Fiddle with your phone, twitch/tap the table with your fingers or the ground with your feet, repeat the same motion over and over (sipping from your drink with great frequency doesn’t look natural), smile at everyone who passes by, avoid eye-contact, make too much eye-contact, make faces, pace or ignore everyone.

All of these things show nervousness, and if you are acting nervous, it’s very likely people will treat you that way (even if they don’t directly interact with you) and that will keep you from that feeling of confidence you’re trying to achieve.

67 comments

  1. Colin this is my favorite post on your blog so far. I definitely try and hide in the corner when I’m feeling a little anxious. Im definitely gonna try and put some of your practices into action.

  2. Colin this is my favorite post on your blog so far. I definitely try and hide in the corner when I’m feeling a little anxious. Im definitely gonna try and put some of your practices into action.

  3. Colin this is my favorite post on your blog so far. I definitely try and hide in the corner when I’m feeling a little anxious. Im definitely gonna try and put some of your practices into action.

  4. Great post Colin!

    Love the break down on body language. And the roaming streets idea.

    I actually roam the streets as soon as I get somewhere because I don’t like to get lost, never thought of it as a conversation helper.

    Regarding meeting new people, I am a little more aggressive. I will ask to join in a game of pool, say hi to whoever im standing next to at the bar and ask people close by if I can join them for a drink/chat. But if you have work to do (I never have in the past, but will now) this is a great way to kill 2 birds.

    Will put into practice. Thanks!

  5. Great post Colin!

    Love the break down on body language. And the roaming streets idea.

    I actually roam the streets as soon as I get somewhere because I don’t like to get lost, never thought of it as a conversation helper.

    Regarding meeting new people, I am a little more aggressive. I will ask to join in a game of pool, say hi to whoever im standing next to at the bar and ask people close by if I can join them for a drink/chat. But if you have work to do (I never have in the past, but will now) this is a great way to kill 2 birds.

    Will put into practice. Thanks!

  6. Great post Colin!

    Love the break down on body language. And the roaming streets idea.

    I actually roam the streets as soon as I get somewhere because I don’t like to get lost, never thought of it as a conversation helper.

    Regarding meeting new people, I am a little more aggressive. I will ask to join in a game of pool, say hi to whoever im standing next to at the bar and ask people close by if I can join them for a drink/chat. But if you have work to do (I never have in the past, but will now) this is a great way to kill 2 birds.

    Will put into practice. Thanks!

  7. You know I know what you’re talking about, regarding one particular social situation in Buenos Aires ;)

    I have to say, though, I’m sure the fact that you are quite a looker also had something to do with those girls talking to you.

    Good post, 100% Agreed.

  8. You know I know what you’re talking about, regarding one particular social situation in Buenos Aires ;)

    I have to say, though, I’m sure the fact that you are quite a looker also had something to do with those girls talking to you.

    Good post, 100% Agreed.

  9. You know I know what you’re talking about, regarding one particular social situation in Buenos Aires ;)

    I have to say, though, I’m sure the fact that you are quite a looker also had something to do with those girls talking to you.

    Good post, 100% Agreed.

  10. I hope everyone has the opportunity to read this post with the voice of the guy from Burn Notice. Because you, Colin, would make a killer spy trainer.

    Also, good notes on keeping calm and confident and remaining open to people approaching you! You totally hit it on the head with just being so aware of yourself that you know how you physically respond in certain situations so you have more control over that outward response.

    Normally, I’m a big advocate of letting your outward physique match your inward emotional/psychological level, but when it’s prone to misrepresenting your desire to socialize, as is frequently the case in new situations, knowing how to tell a different story with your body is key.

    Here’s to meeting many more people at the End of the World!

  11. I hope everyone has the opportunity to read this post with the voice of the guy from Burn Notice. Because you, Colin, would make a killer spy trainer.

    Also, good notes on keeping calm and confident and remaining open to people approaching you! You totally hit it on the head with just being so aware of yourself that you know how you physically respond in certain situations so you have more control over that outward response.

    Normally, I’m a big advocate of letting your outward physique match your inward emotional/psychological level, but when it’s prone to misrepresenting your desire to socialize, as is frequently the case in new situations, knowing how to tell a different story with your body is key.

    Here’s to meeting many more people at the End of the World!

  12. I hope everyone has the opportunity to read this post with the voice of the guy from Burn Notice. Because you, Colin, would make a killer spy trainer.

    Also, good notes on keeping calm and confident and remaining open to people approaching you! You totally hit it on the head with just being so aware of yourself that you know how you physically respond in certain situations so you have more control over that outward response.

    Normally, I’m a big advocate of letting your outward physique match your inward emotional/psychological level, but when it’s prone to misrepresenting your desire to socialize, as is frequently the case in new situations, knowing how to tell a different story with your body is key.

    Here’s to meeting many more people at the End of the World!

  13. “…when you can portray a certain emotional state accurately outwardly, you’ll be much more likely to fall into that state shortly thereafter.”

    Absolutely! Nice post, Colin. When I travel I pay particular attention to body language. Imitation can go a long way. The way people cock their heads, gesticulate their limbs, transform their facial muscles. Subtle miming, I’ve found, makes it easier to mentally adapt to a new place.

  14. “…when you can portray a certain emotional state accurately outwardly, you’ll be much more likely to fall into that state shortly thereafter.”

    Absolutely! Nice post, Colin. When I travel I pay particular attention to body language. Imitation can go a long way. The way people cock their heads, gesticulate their limbs, transform their facial muscles. Subtle miming, I’ve found, makes it easier to mentally adapt to a new place.

  15. Aha!… So that’s your secret! *Evil laugh* *cough*

    Ok, bad joke aside, this is a wonderful post and it explains a lot of things. It truly is your secret and explains how you get into all those weird adventures of yours. But it also explains how and why you get out of them unscratched.

    After all it was not pure luck but very well researched and planned situations. Not to the very detail but at least to the best degree within your own power.

    I’m really glad you shared this Colin, it’s very helpful to someone who is shifting to a more social and outward self. I guess years of being kind of antisocial leads me to value this kind of post a lot.

    Many thanks again!

  16. Aha!… So that’s your secret! *Evil laugh* *cough*

    Ok, bad joke aside, this is a wonderful post and it explains a lot of things. It truly is your secret and explains how you get into all those weird adventures of yours. But it also explains how and why you get out of them unscratched.

    After all it was not pure luck but very well researched and planned situations. Not to the very detail but at least to the best degree within your own power.

    I’m really glad you shared this Colin, it’s very helpful to someone who is shifting to a more social and outward self. I guess years of being kind of antisocial leads me to value this kind of post a lot.

    Many thanks again!

  17. Great break down Colin. I find it super fascinating as well that the body language you outwardly expose slowly, but surely changes the feelings on the inside. Acting confident, causes you to internally feel more secure in a new environment.

    Awareness of yourself in general is a fantastic thing to cultivate and perfect. Sounds like it’s working for you in Argentina. Hope all is well in your travels thus far!

  18. Great break down Colin. I find it super fascinating as well that the body language you outwardly expose slowly, but surely changes the feelings on the inside. Acting confident, causes you to internally feel more secure in a new environment.

    Awareness of yourself in general is a fantastic thing to cultivate and perfect. Sounds like it’s working for you in Argentina. Hope all is well in your travels thus far!

  19. Great break down Colin. I find it super fascinating as well that the body language you outwardly expose slowly, but surely changes the feelings on the inside. Acting confident, causes you to internally feel more secure in a new environment.

    Awareness of yourself in general is a fantastic thing to cultivate and perfect. Sounds like it’s working for you in Argentina. Hope all is well in your travels thus far!

  20. Interesting about the head nodding – reminds me of the studies that show that simply by smiling you can increase your mood. I’ve consciously made a few attempts at that, on the occasion that I’m not feeling particularly upbeat, and I honestly can say that once you get over feeling like a grinning idiot, it does help.

  21. Interesting about the head nodding – reminds me of the studies that show that simply by smiling you can increase your mood. I’ve consciously made a few attempts at that, on the occasion that I’m not feeling particularly upbeat, and I honestly can say that once you get over feeling like a grinning idiot, it does help.

  22. Body language conveys so much, and even studying it a little bit can really help people understand their own habits and how to establish a presence that is non-threatening, open and welcoming.

    Great run down of suggestions, always enjoy your narrative fashion.

  23. Body language conveys so much, and even studying it a little bit can really help people understand their own habits and how to establish a presence that is non-threatening, open and welcoming.

    Great run down of suggestions, always enjoy your narrative fashion.

  24. Body language conveys so much, and even studying it a little bit can really help people understand their own habits and how to establish a presence that is non-threatening, open and welcoming.

    Great run down of suggestions, always enjoy your narrative fashion.

  25. This is some amazing advice. I like how you mentioned fiddling the the phone as a don’t. Doing this is my initial reaction to any situation that makes me feel in the least bit uncomfortable. I will try really hard to not do that next time I want to and see what happens. I’m always trying to learn why I act a certain way in certain situations and this post has given me some good stuff to try out. Thanks! Hope the rest of your traveling goes well.

  26. This is some amazing advice. I like how you mentioned fiddling the the phone as a don’t. Doing this is my initial reaction to any situation that makes me feel in the least bit uncomfortable. I will try really hard to not do that next time I want to and see what happens. I’m always trying to learn why I act a certain way in certain situations and this post has given me some good stuff to try out. Thanks! Hope the rest of your traveling goes well.

  27. This is some amazing advice. I like how you mentioned fiddling the the phone as a don’t. Doing this is my initial reaction to any situation that makes me feel in the least bit uncomfortable. I will try really hard to not do that next time I want to and see what happens. I’m always trying to learn why I act a certain way in certain situations and this post has given me some good stuff to try out. Thanks! Hope the rest of your traveling goes well.

  28. Great title, good tips. As a shy somewhat-sucky person who often masquerades as a confident go-getter, I’ll definitely being working these into my repertoire of misrepresentation.

  29. Great title, good tips. As a shy somewhat-sucky person who often masquerades as a confident go-getter, I’ll definitely being working these into my repertoire of misrepresentation.

  30. Great title, good tips. As a shy somewhat-sucky person who often masquerades as a confident go-getter, I’ll definitely being working these into my repertoire of misrepresentation.

  31. Great post. I used to know a psychologist who said the best way out of depression was to act “not depressed” and then the feeling would follow. I used to think she was ridiculous but actually it can work.

    By the way, it’s Bariloche Argentina, not “Baroliche”. Not to erode your confidence or anything!

  32. Great post. I used to know a psychologist who said the best way out of depression was to act “not depressed” and then the feeling would follow. I used to think she was ridiculous but actually it can work.

    By the way, it’s Bariloche Argentina, not “Baroliche”. Not to erode your confidence or anything!

  33. Great post. I used to know a psychologist who said the best way out of depression was to act “not depressed” and then the feeling would follow. I used to think she was ridiculous but actually it can work.

    By the way, it’s Bariloche Argentina, not “Baroliche”. Not to erode your confidence or anything!

  34. Hey Colin – This is a useful piece of writing, especially considering that most people would be uncomfortable in the situation you were in at the restaurant, whether we would like to admit it or not!

  35. Hey Colin – This is a useful piece of writing, especially considering that most people would be uncomfortable in the situation you were in at the restaurant, whether we would like to admit it or not!

  36. Hey Colin – This is a useful piece of writing, especially considering that most people would be uncomfortable in the situation you were in at the restaurant, whether we would like to admit it or not!

  37. @Anthony: Thanks a lot, Anthony! Definitely let me know how it goes…these things have worked really well for me and other people I’ve recommended them to so far, but I’m sure you’ll discover more of your own!

    @Vinay: Sounds like you’ve got you’re own style that works for you, and that’s ideal. My method works for me when I’m feeling sucky mostly because I’m naturally introverted (and this appeals to that aspect of my personality). If you’re already rocking the cold-introduction, though, I think you’re good to go!

    @Carlos: Oh Carlos, you know you don’t have to flirt to make me like you ;) Thanks for the comment, buddy!

    @Kristin: Haha, I love Burn Notice; I wonder if it influenced me somehow?! I know that you, being a very creative person (and an actor to boot) are all about letting that inside activity out to the surface, but as you say, in some cases that will just perpetuate an emotion or state of being that you don’t really want at that moment. Better to influence it when you can and then let it out when you’re really able to let your freak flag fly!

    @Alan: Totally, I find myself doing the same thing, and a whole lot more since I’ve been down here in South America. Too bad there’s not just a handshake or something to learn, eh?

    @Alejandro: Now you know all my secrets! Regarding luck, it always plays a role, but the idea is to be prepared so that when something strange does happen you’re ready to milk it for all it’s worth. None of the events I mentioned in this post were taken very far (mostly because I wasn’t really looking for an adventure that night), but they definitely COULD have been taken a long way and that’s what you get at the end of the day – the option to have and do more if you want to.

    @Amber: Awareness is definitely key, physically, psychologically and philosophically! Thanks for the comment!

    @Ash: Amen to that! I read those same studies and started allowing myself to just grin in public whenever the feeling hits me OR if the opposite occurs…things are going really badly. At this point I kind of reflexively laugh when things go wrong, partially because it puts me back in a good mood, and partially because the Stoic in me thinks ‘Well I guess I’ll learn something today!’

    @Carl: Exactly. Thanks for the comment, Carl!

    @DeeAnne: Thanks DeeAnne!

    @Nate: Oh trust me, I did the exact same thing. This is actually part of why I chose to sell my iPhone when I left the country..it was just too easy to justify checking it for WHATEVER whenever I was feeling uncomfortable. Now that I don’t have that crutch, it’s much easier to embrace the uneasiness and just roll with it.

    @Lauren: Thanks a lot, Lauren! Let me know how it goes, and know that we all masquerade from time to time (definitely myself included!)

    @Carmen: Smart psychologist! And I’ll keep that in mind about Bariloche Argentina…most of the locals were calling it that, despite the longer name on the map, but there are so many rules down here that I don’t know I’m not terribly surprised I got it wrong :/

    @Mike: Thank you sir! Much appreciated!

    @Earl: Yeah, it’s funny how a silly little social situation that is so completely non-threatening in any real way can actually be hugely terrifying. Believe it or not, I hated to go to the movies alone for the same reason for a very long time. It just wouldn’t happen. Once you get used to it, though, you start to enjoy the differences and appreciate the very same things that used to make you uncomfortable.

  38. @Anthony: Thanks a lot, Anthony! Definitely let me know how it goes…these things have worked really well for me and other people I’ve recommended them to so far, but I’m sure you’ll discover more of your own!

    @Vinay: Sounds like you’ve got you’re own style that works for you, and that’s ideal. My method works for me when I’m feeling sucky mostly because I’m naturally introverted (and this appeals to that aspect of my personality). If you’re already rocking the cold-introduction, though, I think you’re good to go!

    @Carlos: Oh Carlos, you know you don’t have to flirt to make me like you ;) Thanks for the comment, buddy!

    @Kristin: Haha, I love Burn Notice; I wonder if it influenced me somehow?! I know that you, being a very creative person (and an actor to boot) are all about letting that inside activity out to the surface, but as you say, in some cases that will just perpetuate an emotion or state of being that you don’t really want at that moment. Better to influence it when you can and then let it out when you’re really able to let your freak flag fly!

    @Alan: Totally, I find myself doing the same thing, and a whole lot more since I’ve been down here in South America. Too bad there’s not just a handshake or something to learn, eh?

    @Alejandro: Now you know all my secrets! Regarding luck, it always plays a role, but the idea is to be prepared so that when something strange does happen you’re ready to milk it for all it’s worth. None of the events I mentioned in this post were taken very far (mostly because I wasn’t really looking for an adventure that night), but they definitely COULD have been taken a long way and that’s what you get at the end of the day – the option to have and do more if you want to.

    @Amber: Awareness is definitely key, physically, psychologically and philosophically! Thanks for the comment!

    @Ash: Amen to that! I read those same studies and started allowing myself to just grin in public whenever the feeling hits me OR if the opposite occurs…things are going really badly. At this point I kind of reflexively laugh when things go wrong, partially because it puts me back in a good mood, and partially because the Stoic in me thinks ‘Well I guess I’ll learn something today!’

    @Carl: Exactly. Thanks for the comment, Carl!

    @DeeAnne: Thanks DeeAnne!

    @Nate: Oh trust me, I did the exact same thing. This is actually part of why I chose to sell my iPhone when I left the country..it was just too easy to justify checking it for WHATEVER whenever I was feeling uncomfortable. Now that I don’t have that crutch, it’s much easier to embrace the uneasiness and just roll with it.

    @Lauren: Thanks a lot, Lauren! Let me know how it goes, and know that we all masquerade from time to time (definitely myself included!)

    @Carmen: Smart psychologist! And I’ll keep that in mind about Bariloche Argentina…most of the locals were calling it that, despite the longer name on the map, but there are so many rules down here that I don’t know I’m not terribly surprised I got it wrong :/

    @Mike: Thank you sir! Much appreciated!

    @Earl: Yeah, it’s funny how a silly little social situation that is so completely non-threatening in any real way can actually be hugely terrifying. Believe it or not, I hated to go to the movies alone for the same reason for a very long time. It just wouldn’t happen. Once you get used to it, though, you start to enjoy the differences and appreciate the very same things that used to make you uncomfortable.

  39. @Anthony: Thanks a lot, Anthony! Definitely let me know how it goes…these things have worked really well for me and other people I’ve recommended them to so far, but I’m sure you’ll discover more of your own!

    @Vinay: Sounds like you’ve got you’re own style that works for you, and that’s ideal. My method works for me when I’m feeling sucky mostly because I’m naturally introverted (and this appeals to that aspect of my personality). If you’re already rocking the cold-introduction, though, I think you’re good to go!

    @Carlos: Oh Carlos, you know you don’t have to flirt to make me like you ;) Thanks for the comment, buddy!

    @Kristin: Haha, I love Burn Notice; I wonder if it influenced me somehow?! I know that you, being a very creative person (and an actor to boot) are all about letting that inside activity out to the surface, but as you say, in some cases that will just perpetuate an emotion or state of being that you don’t really want at that moment. Better to influence it when you can and then let it out when you’re really able to let your freak flag fly!

    @Alan: Totally, I find myself doing the same thing, and a whole lot more since I’ve been down here in South America. Too bad there’s not just a handshake or something to learn, eh?

    @Alejandro: Now you know all my secrets! Regarding luck, it always plays a role, but the idea is to be prepared so that when something strange does happen you’re ready to milk it for all it’s worth. None of the events I mentioned in this post were taken very far (mostly because I wasn’t really looking for an adventure that night), but they definitely COULD have been taken a long way and that’s what you get at the end of the day – the option to have and do more if you want to.

    @Amber: Awareness is definitely key, physically, psychologically and philosophically! Thanks for the comment!

    @Ash: Amen to that! I read those same studies and started allowing myself to just grin in public whenever the feeling hits me OR if the opposite occurs…things are going really badly. At this point I kind of reflexively laugh when things go wrong, partially because it puts me back in a good mood, and partially because the Stoic in me thinks ‘Well I guess I’ll learn something today!’

    @Carl: Exactly. Thanks for the comment, Carl!

    @DeeAnne: Thanks DeeAnne!

    @Nate: Oh trust me, I did the exact same thing. This is actually part of why I chose to sell my iPhone when I left the country..it was just too easy to justify checking it for WHATEVER whenever I was feeling uncomfortable. Now that I don’t have that crutch, it’s much easier to embrace the uneasiness and just roll with it.

    @Lauren: Thanks a lot, Lauren! Let me know how it goes, and know that we all masquerade from time to time (definitely myself included!)

    @Carmen: Smart psychologist! And I’ll keep that in mind about Bariloche Argentina…most of the locals were calling it that, despite the longer name on the map, but there are so many rules down here that I don’t know I’m not terribly surprised I got it wrong :/

    @Mike: Thank you sir! Much appreciated!

    @Earl: Yeah, it’s funny how a silly little social situation that is so completely non-threatening in any real way can actually be hugely terrifying. Believe it or not, I hated to go to the movies alone for the same reason for a very long time. It just wouldn’t happen. Once you get used to it, though, you start to enjoy the differences and appreciate the very same things that used to make you uncomfortable.

  40. Hey Colin!

    Fantastic body language tips you have here. Though I was always conscious of the do’s and don’ts of good body language, I never considered how they’d be so applicable – or critical – in a foreign setting. Come to think of it, body language and subcommunication are so much more important in other parts of the world because of the language barrier, as you pointed out so astutely.

    Your tips on eye contact should be duly noted by everyone on the site, since there’s a fine line between not enough eye contact, good eye contact, and creepy eye contact. Usually eye contact between men and women or women and other women can be more intense/prolonged than between two men. Lengthy eye contact between men usually leads to a fight if there are two alpha males involved (or homophobia).

    Avoiding nervousness or signs of nervousness is also super important and I often try to sip my drink too much when I’m nervous instinctually. Looks like I’ll have to correct that.

  41. Hey Colin!

    Fantastic body language tips you have here. Though I was always conscious of the do’s and don’ts of good body language, I never considered how they’d be so applicable – or critical – in a foreign setting. Come to think of it, body language and subcommunication are so much more important in other parts of the world because of the language barrier, as you pointed out so astutely.

    Your tips on eye contact should be duly noted by everyone on the site, since there’s a fine line between not enough eye contact, good eye contact, and creepy eye contact. Usually eye contact between men and women or women and other women can be more intense/prolonged than between two men. Lengthy eye contact between men usually leads to a fight if there are two alpha males involved (or homophobia).

    Avoiding nervousness or signs of nervousness is also super important and I often try to sip my drink too much when I’m nervous instinctually. Looks like I’ll have to correct that.

  42. Hey Colin!

    Fantastic body language tips you have here. Though I was always conscious of the do’s and don’ts of good body language, I never considered how they’d be so applicable – or critical – in a foreign setting. Come to think of it, body language and subcommunication are so much more important in other parts of the world because of the language barrier, as you pointed out so astutely.

    Your tips on eye contact should be duly noted by everyone on the site, since there’s a fine line between not enough eye contact, good eye contact, and creepy eye contact. Usually eye contact between men and women or women and other women can be more intense/prolonged than between two men. Lengthy eye contact between men usually leads to a fight if there are two alpha males involved (or homophobia).

    Avoiding nervousness or signs of nervousness is also super important and I often try to sip my drink too much when I’m nervous instinctually. Looks like I’ll have to correct that.

  43. Good info on a subject that I had never really thought much about. However – as an eternally single woman and solo traveler – this is really useful. Plus, it may even help me get a date! :)

  44. Good info on a subject that I had never really thought much about. However – as an eternally single woman and solo traveler – this is really useful. Plus, it may even help me get a date! :)

  45. Good info on a subject that I had never really thought much about. However – as an eternally single woman and solo traveler – this is really useful. Plus, it may even help me get a date! :)

  46. @Brett: Thanks! Very good point about eye contact being different between men and women and the different combinations therein. Always try to keep in mind what kind of signals you’re sending to others and you should have far fewer fistfights and far more chance encounters with a potential date.

    @Sherry: Hells yeah it can get you a date! Body language is EVERYTHING when flirting. Might do a post on that specifically in the near-future :)

  47. @Brett: Thanks! Very good point about eye contact being different between men and women and the different combinations therein. Always try to keep in mind what kind of signals you’re sending to others and you should have far fewer fistfights and far more chance encounters with a potential date.

    @Sherry: Hells yeah it can get you a date! Body language is EVERYTHING when flirting. Might do a post on that specifically in the near-future :)

  48. @Brett: Thanks! Very good point about eye contact being different between men and women and the different combinations therein. Always try to keep in mind what kind of signals you’re sending to others and you should have far fewer fistfights and far more chance encounters with a potential date.

    @Sherry: Hells yeah it can get you a date! Body language is EVERYTHING when flirting. Might do a post on that specifically in the near-future :)

  49. Oh no, I’m guilty of your Dont’s! I have been trying hard to be confident but I always relapse. Next time, I will do much harder. There’s no benefit in feeling inferior. :-)

  50. Oh no, I’m guilty of your Dont’s! I have been trying hard to be confident but I always relapse. Next time, I will do much harder. There’s no benefit in feeling inferior. :-)

  51. Oh no, I’m guilty of your Dont’s! I have been trying hard to be confident but I always relapse. Next time, I will do much harder. There’s no benefit in feeling inferior. :-)

  52. Very nice Colin. Didn’t know you were so calculating, lol. But seriously, very good advice. As much as I have come to similar conclusions on my own, you provided some insightful bits I had never thought of, for example being so aware of the finite details such as exposing elbows and angling feet. I have always gone with a much more holistic and intuitive approach of making my overall sense one of comfort. I will now be more aware of the elements composing this sense of comfort, allowing me to better tweak it.

    As you know from our stroll to get medialunas and joe, I echo your sentiment regarding eye contact. It’s the ultimate in, and knows few cultural boundaries. It’s the permission to interact, the stamp of approval. Well, depending on how the eye contact went, of course.

    You may make a regular reader of me yet. I might even recommend this blog to my mom. Kidding! kinda…

  53. Very nice Colin. Didn’t know you were so calculating, lol. But seriously, very good advice. As much as I have come to similar conclusions on my own, you provided some insightful bits I had never thought of, for example being so aware of the finite details such as exposing elbows and angling feet. I have always gone with a much more holistic and intuitive approach of making my overall sense one of comfort. I will now be more aware of the elements composing this sense of comfort, allowing me to better tweak it.

    As you know from our stroll to get medialunas and joe, I echo your sentiment regarding eye contact. It’s the ultimate in, and knows few cultural boundaries. It’s the permission to interact, the stamp of approval. Well, depending on how the eye contact went, of course.

    You may make a regular reader of me yet. I might even recommend this blog to my mom. Kidding! kinda…

  54. Very nice Colin. Didn’t know you were so calculating, lol. But seriously, very good advice. As much as I have come to similar conclusions on my own, you provided some insightful bits I had never thought of, for example being so aware of the finite details such as exposing elbows and angling feet. I have always gone with a much more holistic and intuitive approach of making my overall sense one of comfort. I will now be more aware of the elements composing this sense of comfort, allowing me to better tweak it.

    As you know from our stroll to get medialunas and joe, I echo your sentiment regarding eye contact. It’s the ultimate in, and knows few cultural boundaries. It’s the permission to interact, the stamp of approval. Well, depending on how the eye contact went, of course.

    You may make a regular reader of me yet. I might even recommend this blog to my mom. Kidding! kinda…

  55. As someone who tends to be rather reserved in situations where I don’t know anyone, these tips are excellent. I will definitely try them out!

  56. As someone who tends to be rather reserved in situations where I don’t know anyone, these tips are excellent. I will definitely try them out!

  57. As someone who tends to be rather reserved in situations where I don’t know anyone, these tips are excellent. I will definitely try them out!

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