Will: Hello, Jeanne. Welcome to the show.
Jeanne: Hi, how are you?
Will: I am doing fantastic, and I gotta say, I am so excited to speak with you, Jeanne, because it’s like, for me speaking to, I don’t know, super role model, celebrity, because your book, The Art of Mingling, Fun and Proven Techniques for Mastering Any Room, has been so important to me in my life. I love your book.
Jeanne: That’s so, so good to hear. That’s really, I’m very happy about that.
Will: I read it, I don’t know, like what … 10 years ago? Some number of years ago, I mean it feels like 10 or 15 years ago, and I tell you, I used to be a total mingle phobe, as you would say, and I really dreaded … I mean I just did not like cocktail parties or whatever, because I’m a really strong I, you know, introvert, MBTI. But I learned some techniques in your book that made me a total mingle file, if that’s a thing. I mean I totally am fine with it now, and by-
Jeanne: Yeah, you’re a mingling expert now.
Will: Well, no. No, I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say a mingling expert, but a mingle file. I don’t mind it and sometimes even embrace it and I would say I’m still very much an amateur, but I don’t mind the situations as much. I’m really psyched to talk about your book and about mingling lessons, because it’s such a valuable life thing, and real business ROI on it, too. So, before we talk maybe about the content of the book, tell me a little bit about how in the world did you decide to write a book on mingling? What led you to that point? Were you an awesome mingler who said, “Nobody else can do this right and I’m gonna tell them,” or did-
Jeanne: I was, it turns out I was an awesome mingler, but I didn’t realize it until one fateful weekend in Ohio. I was at a wedding of a college friend of mine, and all of our college friends were there, but we didn’t know anybody else at the wedding because we had all flown to Dayton to go to this wedding. At the end of the reception, my friends were all teasing me because they said they just talked to each other and they saw that I mingled with the whole town. And I didn’t even realize that I had this, if not expertise, at least appetite for mingling with strangers that I suddenly started being aware of. That night, at 2:00 in the morning, after the reception in someone’s room, I wrote down on a cocktail napkin the basic mingling techniques that ended up in the book.
Will: That night. You just put it down-
Jeanne: Yep. That night. I put it … cocktail napkins, by the way, are a great way to start a book. There’s something about a cocktail napkin that is, it’s like less onerous than a blank piece of paper. It’s fun and you could throw it away and it’s just, it’s like low pressure. I often start my books on cocktail napkins.
Will: Cocktail napkins should come with ballpoint pens next to them so you can do that.
Jeanne: Sorry, say that again?
Will: I said cocktail napkins should all come with ballpoint pens, so you can do that.
Jeanne: Right, exactly.
Will: So let’s kind of talk about the structure of the book, so you talk about first of all overcoming mingle phobia and some survival fantasies, and how do you choose your first clique, and then you move into making a successful entrance, which is often one of the toughest things. How do you break in to a little clique? And then some tools for continuing a conversation once you broke in and the great escape. Those are kind of the first four, I’d say, killer chapters for the basics. Then you move on to sort of fancy footwork and so forth, but let’s … maybe we start with some of those. Talk to me about the first two parts about how do you break in, how do you choose your first clique and some ways that you suggest of breaking in.
Jeanne: Well, first of all a lot of people don’t know, they get frozen with terror when they first enter a party. They may not be totally prepared for how many people are there and how many people they don’t know, so I do, as you said, have sections in the beginning on how to sort of save your panic. How to deal with that feeling. Some of them sound sort of silly, like one is called the buddy system, which is not about a real buddy, but it’s about an imaginary friend. So you pretend that your best friend is over your right shoulder, you know, like imagine if they were with you, they’d be saying, “Come on, we can do this, no big deal.” And there are other ones like that.
Jeanne: Then, as far as, then you put your coat away, say hello to the hostess or the host, and then of course you have to figure out, what are you gonna do next? There are a couple of things I recommend. One of them is to, when you’re trying to figure out who to approach first, if you don’t know anyone, you sort of try to figure out, read their body language. If you see a group of people that are really tightly together and they don’t have any open, there’s no open breaks in their body, their bodies are really like a tight circle, that’s probably not a good place to start. You probably, if you keep looking around, you’ll find a couple people who are sort of talking but also looking around the room and sort of open to seeing what’s going on, and those are the people that you should … that’s one example of how you pick a group to join.
Will: Yeah, and we kind of skipped over a couple awesome survival fantasies, which are super helpful, so talk to us about the naked room.
Jeanne: The naked room. The naked room is so funny, because I think that it’s probably … I’m sure that I probably read about this technique in a 1930s novel or something, but it’s when you pretend that everyone is, not naked, naked … that could be a little too upsetting for some people, or distracting. But I like to pretend that people are in their underwear and their socks, because really that makes them all very, very vulnerable.
Will: Less impressive, too.
Will: Less impressive. Less dignified.
Jeanne: You know, it sort of can … it can take away some of your fear to imagine everybody in the room’s naked. You know, another version of that, which isn’t in the … by the way, I don’t know if you mentioned to your audience that … because you said you’d read the book 10 years ago, but I did revise this book in 2015.
Will: I actually have that one in my hands right now. The new and revised edition.
Jeanne: Just to make sure that we have all the latest tips in there. But there’s also, I wrote about it in another book. It’s not in this book, but there’s another one I really like, might as well just say which is related to the naked room, which is that when you pretend that everybody in the room is four years old. If people are really terrifying you, that’s a really good psychological trick, too.
Jeanne: But anyway, in the book there’s also a technique called the invisible man, and the invisible man is when you pretend that no one can see you. That’s really pretty, an interesting thing to do, because it’s based on the rule that no one’s really thinking about you. You feel very self conscious, you think, “Oh my God, people are gonna see me standing alone in the room,” but the fact is that people do not … they’re just involved in their own fears or fun that they’re having, and so if you pretend that you’re the invisible man from the old movie, and that no one, you’ve got a magic thing on you so that no one can see you, that allows you to kind of just mosey along the room, maybe go have a nibble at the buffet, and just sort of not worry about it and you’ll end up exuding an air of confidence.
Jeanne: You don’t do that for too long. You can’t stay invisible for too long. You must re-enter reality. You don’t want to become a party ghost.
Will: And one of the tips, which is maybe implicit in the book, is that treating the whole thing as a game also really helps. At least that’s what helps me. If you kind of go to this thing, “Okay, now I actually have to talk to people, I don’t know what to say,” and it’s just Will Bachman. It’s me here. It makes it super hard. But if you say, “Okay, now I’m gonna start using some of these techniques that I learned from The Art of Mingling,” then it’s like okay, I’m gonna try to break into that clique there. Let’s get into that. What are some ways to break in, because that’s so hard to … but I love … go ahead.
Jeanne: Yeah, that’s sort of the crux of it, the two major things that people always want to talk about is how to get into a conversation and how to get out, which we’ll get into later. But it’s true that I, one of the things that I coach people about is to … If you have any goals about the party, you should let them go, because your first goal has to be to have fun. If you are there because you want to meet people for your business or you’re really hoping to find a relationship, romantic relationship, you have to put those in the back of your mind, because your first and foremost goal should be to have fun connecting with people in this room. And as you say, it is like a game. It should be a fun thing. When I walk into a room, I see it as a big smorgasbord, like a big buffet of food, like all the people are like things that I want to taste.
Jeanne: Anyway, so the four entrance techniques, the four basic ones that I use, there could be variations on these, are number one, something I call the honest approach. The honest approach is really remarkable for its sincerity. It doesn’t have to be totally honest, but it is a sincere approach in which you go up to a group of people and you say, “Hi, my name is Will, I don’t know a single soul at this party,” and when you throw yourself on the mercy of people like that, at first it feels scary, like you’re stepping into thin air, but you will find that most people will respond incredibly well to that, because they are charmed and disarmed by your giving your power over sort of like that way. And it basically, anybody who’s not a jerk will then introduce you to everyone in that group and probably other people as well. If they know them. It’s just a great way to start, because you don’t have to pose as anything else.
Will: When does that one … when you would avoid against that one?
Jeanne: You can’t do it if you really know a lot of people in the party. You can’t, like it’s the honest approach. You could probably get away with it if you know one or two people at the party and you can say, “I don’t know anybody here,” because it’s more or less true, but to use the honest approach it has to actually be mostly true that you don’t know anyone. Because if somebody else hears you saying it and they’ve just heard you saying it at the group before, you’re in some trouble. But it’s a great one to use at the beginning, when you haven’t met anybody yet, because it gets you right in there. It gets you over your fear. People will be nice to you, mostly.
Jeanne: Then there’s another one that a lot of people like if the honest approach is not their cup of tea because it’s too bold, which is called the fade in. You’ll see people doing this if you look around at a party. It’s where people, you sort of sidle up to a group and you kind of edge in very slowly, so the people don’t really notice you’re coming in, and you have to listen really hard. This is the key to the fade in. You have to listen really hard and then when somebody says something that you have something really relevant to say, you can just jump in. Like if somebody’s talking about a movie and they’ve gotten to the certain scene and you’ve seen that movie, you can say, “Yeah, and when he lept over the wall, blah blah blah,” and people will, it’s like as if you’ve been there all along. Mostly people will just open up a little bit, let you be in there and you’re in.
Jeanne: The warning with the fade in is you can’t hang around the peripheral for too long without joining in.
Will: What are you doing there?
Jeanne: I mean, but the good thing is if you … with the fade in approach, if you’re standing there and you’re listening to people and it seems like it’s not gonna be easy for you to join this group, you can pretty much abort and sort of gently fade out. If it hasn’t been too much time.
Will: All right.
Jeanne: Then there’s something I really like, which is probably a little easier for women, but not necessarily. It’s just they use different styles of it. It’s called the flattery entrée. The flattery entrée is when you comment on someone’s accessory. Now, there are warnings to this. It should be something that’s above the neck, for obvious reasons. Especially in this day and age. You don’t want to offend anybody. Usually I like to use earrings. With men, you can use ties, glasses, or earrings. Anything that is not too personal. You don’t want to use … you don’t want to comment on a woman’s dress or their shoes or anything like that, although women to women, and if a person has fabulous shoes on, you could probably do that. But it’s best to stay above the neck. And what that does is not only does it … it’s a positive thing. You’re immediately making someone feel good, which is always a good way to start, and you’re also introducing a subject, because if you say, “Those are fabulous earrings, where did you get them,” you’ve got a subject already. She’ll say where she got the earrings and then you’re in.
Will: Maybe it was a trip to Mexico or Texico or something and then-
Jeanne: Exactly, often times that can be a good thing to do. You know, you can use the flattery entrée as not an entrée, too. You can use it for recovering for a faux pas or changing the subject or whatever. It’s a good thing to try and, even when you’re nervous, to try to observe and see what people are wearing. Lots of times, too, people these days have fabulous glasses that you can comment on.
Jeanne: And then the last entrance maneuver is the sophistication test.
Will: That’s one of my favorites, by the way.
Jeanne: Thank you very much. And I will confess that I sort of stole this technique, or I altered it, from a series of novels I read when I was 13 that were about a debutante in main line Philadelphia, and the main character, Maudie, was this person … I think I probably, she taught me how to mingle, this main character of these books. She was filled with witty lines, and she had a … when the men would come to dance with her, she would use what she called the sophistication test, so I stole from this old novel from 1929. But what it is is you say something that not only is an opening line but is a good test for what kind of person it is and what kind of conversation you can expect to have. Like I think one of them is, “How do you fit into this picture?” You know, something that’s a little bit abstract, so that people can either answer literally or they can answer with something clever, and then you know that you’re gonna be on a certain level. I think some of them are, like another example of the sophistication test is, “What’s your story?” Or, “How’s it going?” Or, “What’s your role in all this scene,” or something like that.
Jeanne: Something that fits your personality, but something that people can answer in different ways.
Will: Yeah, I particularly like that one, the, “What’s your story?” Because some people will be like, “Oh, what do you mean?” And then, “Okay, you’re gonna be a boring person to talk to.”
Jeanne: Right. You know, because especially when you say, “What’s your story,” obviously you have to say it with a smile. You can’t say, “What’s your story,” but when you say, “What’s your story,” most people will say, “Well, you know, I’m here because the host and I went to college together,” or they’ll say, “I’m just new to New York,” or something.
Will: And some people will say, will be much more creative and interesting, right? Where they’ll be like, “Well, if you really want a five point narrative arc to the story, let me-”
Jeanne: Or somebody can say, if you say, “What’s your story?” Somebody could say, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Something like that. You never know.
Will: “It all started when I was trying to hail a cab.”
Jeanne: Yeah. Right, right, right.
Will: Like oh, okay, the person is gonna have some-
Jeanne: Yeah, you can give people a chance to … you know, then it’s like if people want to stay, a lot of people when they’re mingling don’t want to give personal information. They’d just rather be playful and then it allows them to do that.
Will: There’s one that I love. I’m not sure which one it’s called. It’s doing some kind of, “Hey, I need your help. I am doing a survey tonight,” or, “I’m trying to find out, I’m asking people what they think about XYZ.”
Jeanne: Oh yeah, poll taking. I think that’s in the chapter on keeping the conversation going. It’s either called poll taking or playing a game. I think it’s playing a game.
Will: All right.
Jeanne: Because there are various ways you can play a game. You can say, “What color do you think this is,” if you’re wearing a shirt that’s reddish pink or something. Or you can say, “I’m taking a poll, how many people have seen this movie? I’m taking a poll, I’m doing a survey, how many people here have a regional accent?” I mean you can do a lot of different kinds. But that comes, that’s really kind of later, I think. There is one opening line, I think, that is similar to that.
Jeanne: You know, I always tell people I wrote this book but I didn’t memorize it.
Will: It might be your level two, playful-
Jeanne: Oh yeah, that’s right. I have opening lines and I do have a list of opening lines and they range from the really safe ones to the ones that are more fun and so that can be for various different people. I guess it’s true, the level two, that is like a level two. Like a playful line.
Will: I particularly like the one that says, “Hello, I’m practicing my mingling tonight. How am I doing?”
Jeanne: Yeah. I actually use that one a lot.
Will: I love it. I love it.
Jeanne: And then there’s also the one, the playful one that I like is, “I don’t mean to interrupt, well, okay, I guess I do.” You know, hopefully you can get people that will respond to that. The risk free ones are pretty obvious, you know, “How do you know the host,” and, “Isn’t the food great,” and like that. Then there are the level three ones. The daring ones.
Will: I love, love your point about how if you come with a specific purpose in mind, like romantic or business, you’re likely not to achieve it. But if you come to be playful, you might actually be more successful in achieving one of those-
Jeanne: Right. You’ll notice that if you look at the people in life who are the most successful, and you watch the way they are at parties, I think you’ll be able to see this in people. The people who really put the fun and connecting with people first, and not what they’re trying to do, put all those secondary goals second, it does work better. Because people can sense it, and it makes everybody more relaxed when they can see that you’re not really after anything. You don’t have anything in mind, like who are you?
Will: Yeah. Like, “Okay, you’re not important. Let me move on.” So, you break into the group, now how do we get the conversation, how do we keep the conversation going? What are some tips you have?
Jeanne: Well, one thing is you don’t want to, the one thing you don’t want to do is immediately ask somebody, like I just said, what they do.
Will: So boring.
Jeanne: This is a thing that people, it’s a really common mistake, because it’s an easy … it seems like the right thing to do, because you’re asking about the other person, which is good. Not talking about yourself. But if you’ve just said hello, and that’s all, and haven’t had any other conversation really, and you immediately ask somebody what they do for a living, you could get into trouble that way. Because you don’t know what subject you’re bringing up, basically. The person could have been fired. The person could have a job that you find either really boring or really offensive or disgusting or something, I mean that’s not usual. Most of the time it’s just something that you don’t really want to talk about. But it’s often, they might not … maybe they don’t want to talk about their career, because something bad’s going on.
Jeanne: Also, it smacks of you’re trying to … it makes it seem like you’re trying to figure out if they’re worth your time. You want to wait until you’re in a conversation for several more minutes before you, or make it organic, you know, that you bring up what people do.
Jeanne: And then there’s various different tricks for when offered, you know, when awkward silences come. There’s the interview technique, which is to just keep, ask people questions and that usually works, but it’s also a good idea, and ideally you want to try to have as much give back. You want talk as much as you ask questions. So when you’re doing the interview, for example, what I call the quote interview technique, you should coach your questions with an offering information. Like, for example, instead of saying, “How long have you lived in the city?” You can say something like, “I’ve been in the city since 1985, I can’t believe how long I’ve lived here. It feels like yesterday I moved here. How long have you lived here?” So you want to give information so it inspires them to respond, not only to your question, but to also what you’re saying. Do you know what I mean?
Will: Sure. And maybe don’t ask a close ended question, but make it open. Like, “What changes have you seen since you’ve been living here?”
Jeanne: Right, exactly.
Will: More open ended. Right.
Jeanne: Right. You know, “What’s your favorite restaurant? What kinds of things,” whatever. It’ll become natural, but that’s one thing. And then, as I mentioned before, there’s another one I like to use called playing a game, which is, “What color would you say this is? What is that you’re drinking, no let me guess what you’re drinking. Let me guess what you’re drinking.” You know, “Tell me one thing about your company and I’ll tell you what company it is.” That’s a hard one. I don’t think I could do that one, actually. But some people might be able to, depending upon the party. There’s other ones I list in the book that are examples of things you can do.
Jeanne: And then there’s a room with a view. This is also fairly obvious, but it’s a good thing to remember, which is that sometimes people don’t really want to be immediately asked questions and the better way to bond is to make observations about what’s going on. So, you know, “See that woman over by the door, do you know who that is?” Or, “Isn’t the host’s son tall now?” Various things. The, “Have you ever seen such a big plate of salmon?” I don’t know, just so that you can get … you can both talk about what you’re both experiencing.
Will: Right. Like I mean, salmon, if there’s salmon there, it could be, “I can’t imagine what a small plate of salmon they gave us,” or big salmon. It can go either way. I mean if there’s salmon, you have your line ready to go. So probably, this is probably the easier part, right? Once you’ve broken in, people learn how to talk. So let’s say people are getting to the conversation, the tough part though is how do you break out. So what are some tips that you share for getting out of that clique, so you can move on and find out other people to have fun with?
Jeanne: Right. That is really important. I’ve had many people say that the one reason that they don’t … it’s not that they’re afraid of talking to strangers, it’s that they’re afraid they can’t get away from strangers. They really don’t want to get stuck talking to someone, it’s like their idea of hell. Which is why I put a whole chapter in the book on escaping. And the idea, of course, is escaping without hurting anyone’s feelings. That’s key. Anybody can walk away from someone, you know, just walk away from a conversation, but you know, we are trying to learn how to be nicer to each other and in a civilized society, we should not be hurting anybody’s feelings at a party.
Jeanne: One of the most obvious escape technique, I have about 12 in the book, I think, but the most obvious one is what I call the buffet bye bye and other handy excuses, which is, “This has been really lovely to talk to you, but I really need to go get another drink. I need to use the restroom.” But the safest one of those is the telephone. Even in the day if iPhones, people know that you can’t just take a phone call in the middle of conversation, so you can say, “I have to check in with somebody. I have to take a phone call. I have to make a phone call. Please excuse me.” Then, of course, you really do have to … you can’t then just walk away to another group of people.
Will: Just walk over to the next group.
Jeanne: You have to at least move over to a corner of the room, look at your phone, pretend to at least try to call somebody before you go talk to someone else, but that one works pretty well.
Jeanne: And then one of my other favorite escape techniques, which everyone seems to love hearing about, it sounds so mean, but it’s actually used quite often. It’s just that I have a mean name for it. It’s called the human sacrifice, and the human sacrifice is when … what you need for this, so you need to know at least one, a couple other people at the party. You need to be able to … you’re sitting there and the most boring person is talking to you and you see somebody coming by that you know, and you grab that person and you introduce them to the person you’re talking to, and as soon as their eyes meet and they say, “Hello,” you can leave. It’s sort of like getting them another dance partner. And if you don’t, you have to do it right away or it’s awkward, but if you, in 10 seconds you can, within 10 seconds you can leave after you introduce them to another person. And of course, the other person will soon realize that you, may or may not realize that you’ve done this, you used them for a human sacrifice.
Jeanne: But you know, all is fair in love and mingling and you can, they can sacrifice with somebody else. And also, you know, one person’s treasure is another person’s trash, so that person, they could get along fine.
Jeanne: The two new people.
Will: Hey, we’ve all probably been that human sacrifice at some point, right?
Jeanne: Everybody’s done that. Everybody’s, and especially … the thing is, if you’ve got a really good host, they may … and there’s a person at the party who’s not just … I mean, it’s terrible to say boring, it’s just a short hand way of saying, because everybody, people have different tastes. But there could be somebody who’s obnoxious or drunk at the party that you’re trying to escape from, in which case the host should be helping you. If they know there’s somebody at that party, they should be watching and rescuing that person as much as possible. But anyway, that’s another chapter.
Jeanne: There’s also subject changing techniques in the escape chapter, which is, they’re complicated to talk about, but where you … I outline how you can actually change the subject effectively and then leave. There’s the counterfeit search, which is where you pretend you have to … you say, “I’m so sorry, excuse me, I know this sounds rude, but my boss told me I had to talk to this particular person and I think they just walked in the door.” Like that. If you’re lucky, you can escape by mutual consent, which is when you realize that both of you have just, you know, the conversation’s come to its natural conclusion. That sometimes happens. That’s sort of like when old people die in their sleep. Everyone’s hope for that. It doesn’t happen very often.
Will: Or you can do, I think somewhere in there you offer the one of saying, “Hey, my wife told me I had to come here and mingle, so I guess we better go do it.”
Jeanne: Yeah. Right. I think we’re supposed to mingle at this thing. Yeah. There’s also the … there’s the-
Will: The shake and break is my favorite.
Jeanne: Shake and break. You’re probably not old enough to remember this. There was a commercial way back when I was a tiny kid that was called Shake and Bake.
Will: Sure, I know Shake and Bake.
Jeanne: Oh, you know that?
Will: Yeah. I’m a fan.
Jeanne: Okay. Anyway, so that’s … yeah. You just basically stick your hand out until the person has to stop talking and you shake their hand. You say, “It’s been so nice talking to you,” and then you break.
Will: And they’re just left stunned. Like, “Okay.”
Will: Shake and break. So that’s sort of in emergency, break glass and shake. Shake and break.
Will: That is very cool.
Jeanne: And of course there’s the fade out, which is the opposite of the fade in. You can’t do that when you’re talking to one person, but if you’re talking in a larger group and you want to leave, you can kind of just start to edge your way out. They’re still talking, they’re still talking, and you’re gone.
Will: What are some of the benefits that readers have told you they’ve gained from improving their mingling game?
Jeanne: Most people, you know, I’ve had a lot of letters from people, frankly, who … they range from what you said, which is that they just enjoy their social life so much more, but I’ve had people … I have had letters from people who met their mates because of my book. I mean, that’s what they say, that they would never have talked to this person at the party if it weren’t for learning these basic techniques. It sounds so silly or corny sometimes, because you know, you need a book to talk to people? But people-
Will: Well, you wrote the book.
Jeanne: Yeah, really, but I mean it’s not … people used to know this stuff, I think more in the Victorian age, for example, where people were just trained. But even then, you know, I’ve seen those Jane Austen movies, there’s still people that were shy, even back then when conversation was an art form.
Will: Yeah. I mean shyness might be partly truly genetic or something, but maybe it’s also partly just we’re never trained on how to do it.
Will: So like if you actually have this-
Jeanne: It is amazing, like I’ve been on TV shows. I was on, for the first time, when the book first published I was on with the Today Show with Katie Couric, and she mentioned that she had mingle phobia.
Jeanne: And she loved my book, and so that’s when I realized, “Okay, this is wider spread disease, mingle phobia, than I ever imagined.” These famous celebrities have it.
Will: Yeah, it’s not a skillset that’s taught in school. Talk to me a little bit about, you’ve got a whole raft of other books, as well, so you got The Faux Pas Survival Guide, Getting Beyond Hello, Come Ons, Come Backs and Kiss Offs, Artful Dodging, Truer Than True Romance, Life is Friends, Etiquette For The End of The World. So you have this whole range, this program, and tell me a little bit about how that’s come about, this-
Jeanne: Well, when The Art of Mingling was first published, that was my first book and since it was very successful, and so of course my publisher obviously wanted me to do more of them. I didn’t … when I first wrote The Art of Mingling, I didn’t think this was gonna be my life. I just wrote it because it came from the cocktail napkin and I thought I know something about this and I can be sort of amusing about it as well as helpful. And then it kind of just grew into a little bit of a mini industry, because it turned out that I had information that people needed. So I ended up publishing a lot of these and along the way I’ve written some articles on the subject and given some workshops and done some talks.
Jeanne: And then I’m working on a new book that is not been … that is just about to be bought by a publisher and it’s going to be, it’s going to have to do with how to deal with your social life in this day and age when everybody is so contentious and divided.
Will: That is certainly the case. Don’t bring up politics at a cocktail party unless you want to-
Jeanne: Right. In The Art of Mingling, there’s a little section about how to talk politics at a party and in general, there are … there’s strategies for how to talk politics without arguing. It’s a very difficult thing to do, because usually you think you either have to just not talk about it at all or it’s gonna be a fight, but there are some ways in which one can carefully … and then you can have interesting conversations, as long as you … you know, there’s strategies on how to test for if you’re talking to a fanatic on either side. Even if you’re on one political side, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not gonna argue if you’re with somebody who’s on the same. If you’re left wing and you’re talking to someone who’s left wing or liberal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t argue, because they could still be fanatical about something in a way that pushes your buttons.
Jeanne: There’s different ways that you can … I do touch on it in The Art of Mingling, that you can figure out how to avoid arguing. You don’t want to argue at a cocktail party. That’s the thing. You can be an activist and spend the rest of your life working towards your cause, but when you’re in that Sunday brunch, that’s not the place to do it.
Will: Yeah. You’re probably not-
Jeanne: That’s my, that’s Miss Mingle’s instructions.
Will: You’re probably not gonna convince anyone. How do you go about researching a book like Etiquette For The End of the World, or the Faux Pas Survival Guide?
Jeanne: Well, The Faux Pas Survival Guide was a fun one to research, because basically what I did for nine months or a year is just ask every single person I ever met, you know, on a plane, my life, at a party, just everywhere, and then of course I did, I would read about faux pas that people were talking about, various funny articles, whatever. But mostly I just asked everybody in the world what kind of faux pas they made and what their worst situations were and … I’m thinking about revising that book and updating it and publishing it under its original title, which was How To Hold Your Head High With Your Foot In Your Mouth.
Jeanne: You know, I just love talking about social life. I love watching it. I love going to a party and sort of analyzing afterwards what happens, because I’m just so fascinated by this particular part of human behavior and interaction. The Etiquette For The End of the World, by the way, is actually a novel. It was my one … there are two books on my list that are not in the same, they’re not humor self help books, like all my other ones, and the Etiquette For The End of the World was my first novel. It has some self help buried in there, but mostly it’s a humorous, like a romantic comedy. And then Truer Than True Romance was just straight up satire humor, really fun to do.
Will: Awesome. The one area that I did want to circle back on about mingling is around kind of business mingling. You have some tips in there about business cards. Want to share some of those?
Jeanne: About what, I’m sorry?
Will: About business cards. When to share them-
Jeanne: Oh yeah, business cards.
Will: Yeah. When to share them, when to, you know, whether to make notes on them-
Jeanne: Right, yeah. That’s good. I mean, not everybody has business cards anymore, but most people still do, and what I say is that I don’t think that you should offer your business card unless somebody asks you for it. You don’t ask for the other person’s business card. You offer your own business card, and you do that when you’re at the end of a conversation and it’s winding down. Not when you’re in the middle, mostly. I mean, unless it’s like, there’s some times when you’re talking where it’s really appropriate. You’re talking about a specific thing and they may, and any time they ask for your card, you give it to them. But when you’re offering your card, it should probably be at the end. And never ask for the other person’s business card, because the other person may not want to give you their card, and you’re putting them in a spot where they have to make up something, like, “I’m sorry, I really didn’t bring any,” or, “I’ve only brought a few,” or I don’t know, but you offer your card, but you never ask for theirs.
Will: Interesting. Okay. So you can ask someone to pass the salt, but you don’t ask them to pass you their business card, because then they might not want you to call them, actually. But if you offer yours, say, “Hey, I’d love to-”
Jeanne: Yeah, usually they’ll either say, “Thank you,” but then they can call you, or they’ll offer you their card. But the actual act of you offering your card is enough, and it’s too pushy to then ask for theirs.
Will: Okay, yeah.
Jeanne: That’s my opinion.
Will: I’d love to stay in touch, here’s my card. You know, and then if they want to offer theirs, great.
Jeanne: Yeah, one thing that people do now, which I have to say and it may just be because I’m old fashioned, so I say this with a … I’m offering this with a grain of salt or whatever, is people, I’ve noticed at parties people will say, “Let me have your phone, I’ll put my information in it.” I don’t, I think that’s very, very intrusive. It’s one thing, again, if you offer your phone to somebody, I don’t know. I just don’t like the whole thing. I don’t think … it’s too much work in the middle of a party, first of all, for somebody to start doing that. I just don’t like that, anyway.
Will: Yeah, it’s like, “Let me have your wallet and I’ll-”
Jeanne: It’s kind of like, too, yeah. Like handing your phone over to somebody, it’s just like it’s a … people, I think it’s the younger generation just is using to do that, but I don’t advise it unless you’re at a party with … I guess at some kinds of parties where it’s all super good friends and, you know, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t recommend that.
Will: Yeah. Yeah. And name tag tips.
Jeanne: Name tag. People, I used to be against name tags, because I thought it was … they were so, I don’t know, why not just say what your name is? But I think they really are very helpful. One of the things is you, when you’re at a party where there’s name tags, first of all, I don’t wear the ones that have pins in them, I won’t put that on, because I don’t feel like anybody should have to ruin their clothing for the sake of name tags. But I will pin it to my purse strap or something.
Jeanne: When you’re at a party with name tags, it’s important to not be obvious about circulating, trying to read peoples’ name tags before you talk to them. You don’t wanna get caught looking like you’re just checking out who they are before you are gonna talk to them. Like, you know, “Wait, you’re nobody, you’re nobody, you’re nobody, oh, here’s somebody I wanna talk to.” Try not to look at their name tag until you actually are gonna go up to talk to them. There are some people who like to get cute with name tags and write silly things on them and I think there’s some parties that’s appropriate for. Like punctuation, fun punctuation, like your name and a question mark, if you’re at a playful kind of party like a reunion. But business parties, I wouldn’t do that.
Jeanne: I’m thinking. Let’s see, what else? You can, I mean like I said, I sometimes wear my name tag not on my chest, but on my purse or somewhere more interesting, because for one thing, or at least pretty high up on my chest. I just don’t … I don’t know. I just feel like it’s fun to wear it in an interesting place. You can write, you know, you can write, if you want to be playful, you can write something else besides your name, like guess who or something. But you have to sort of feel out where you are for that.
Will: Yeah, or Miss Mingle.
Will: Jeanne, where can listeners find out more about you and maybe sign up on your email list so they can find out when your newest book comes out and any other news about you? What’s the best place for them to-
Jeanne: They can go to my website, which is jeannemartinet.com, that’s J-E-A-N-N-E-M-A-R-T-I-N-E-T.com, and there they can, my email address is on there and they should email me directly. I have a blog there and all my books and information about my books and anything that’s happening, media wise, will be on there.
Will: Well, awesome. So check it out. I have signed up there, and I gotta say, this has been such a thrill for me. For me, it’s like having a hero of mine on the show. Jeanne-
Jeanne: That’s so great, Will. I’m so glad. That makes me feel so good.
Will: You changed my social interactions. It still feels a little bit like, takes energy. You know, I’m an I. Takes energy, but it’s fun and I used to just kind of stand in the corner, not know how to do it, and you basically kind of have a roadmap. Have a set of how-to instructions.
Jeanne: I’m so happy to hear that, because for one thing, sometimes people … my book is playful, and even though I have some techniques in it where you’re not technically telling the truth, which some people really take exception to, it’s all a fun, it’s all in the name of fun and connection.
Will: Yeah, and also realizing that most other people at the party probably are all just as much of a mingle phobe as I am, so they are just as thrilled when you break into their group and lighten things up for them.
Jeanne: That is true. That’s one of the five laws of survival, that everybody there, almost everybody there feels exactly the same way as you.
Will: That’s right. Jeanne, such a pleasure speaking with you. Awesome book. I’m looking forward to the next one. Thank you for coming on the show.
Jeanne: Thank so much, Will. Mingle on.
Will: Right. Mingle on. Bye bye, Jean.