The secret of a bar charmer by Philip Duff - partea a 2-a



“A gentleman is someone who always puts everyone else at their ease.”— Unknown  
Going to a bar can be very stressful. A first date, drinks with an important client, meeting friends that might include ex-girlfriends, potential husbands, former business associates and at least one person you wouldn’t spit on if he was on fire: Social situations are increasingly complicated. You have to choose what to wear, perhaps make a reservation or choose a time for everyone meet up, and find the place. If it’s your first time you don’t know what to expect, what the drinks cost, who else will be there. And then when you’re inside you may have to leave your date / client / girlfriend behind and fight your way to the bar, then fight for attention from the bartender. If it’s tableside service you might be confronted with a menu full of exotic, obscure, and worrying options. What the hell is Batavia arrack? What if I mis-pronounce “Caipirinha”? What if the waitress laughs at me? Or my date? Or the client?
Relaxation is key. If you can, make sure the door to the bar opens inwards (welcoming guests in) instead of outwards (effectively pushing them away before they even enter!). If it is at all possible, try to greet the guest as soon as he or she come in. If you can’t have someone greet them and take their coats, then at least make sure they get smiled and waved at by a bartender or waiter. Point them towards a coat rack. Gesture them to an empty table or seats at the bar. Keep smiling. I am often asked what the best way to welcome a guest is. It is to say “Welcome!”. Yeah, duh, right? But it is so often forgotten. Follow it up with a thank-you. “Thanks for coming along tonight!”. Never mention a guest’s previous visit if he is with someone that you do not both know, and even then it is better to wait for him to bring it up himself.

Now for a compliment. Always give a guest a compliment. Compliment ladies on their clothes, shoes, hair, jewellery or handbag. Compliment the gentleman on his clothing, or (if you are sure it is a couple) on the beauty of the lady. Compliment a group on how attractive and fun they look. Do not worry about being “fake”. We are all fake, in different settings and with different people. I talk very differently to my mother than I do to a client, or a guest, or a pretty girl in a bar, and so do you. We are inseparable from the masks that we wear. You should find something about everyone to make a sincere compliment upon, and if you cannot, you are not looking hard enough. Don’t make a sarcastic joke or undermine your own compliment. Be sincere.
You do not need to like someone to have rapport with them: it is just that we tend to unconsciously develop rapport with people that we like, and who like us back. But you can develop rapport with anyone. The single largest component of rapport is observation: consciously observing what people say and do and reacting accordingly. This topic is covered brilliantly in British mentalist Derren Brown’s 2004 TV series Trick of the Mind. In series two, Brown so effectively uses targeted rapport, word choice, intonation and setting that he manages to convince a well-known actor (Simon Pegg) that his ideal present (which Brown has prepared) is a BMX bike. This despite the fact that, weeks before, Pegg had written down “leather jacket” on a piece of paper, sealed it in an envelope and carried it around in his wallet, where he must have noticed it once a day at least. At the end, Pegg is visibly flabbergasted to discover that he had written down “leather jacket”: he really, truly wants nothing more than a BMX bike. That is how powerful rapport can be. (The episode can be viewed on YouTube.)
Body Language
When I read the quote from Jerry Thomas that started this article— and it’s the very first “hint” in his Bar-Tender’s Guide— I cannot but think that JT was writing about reading and reacting to body language. Notice that he at no time mentions making great drinks or even good drinks. No, just satisfying “desires he has already watched and ascertained” in order to “acquire popularity and success.” Ol’ JT in his heyday was making the equivalent of $ 220,000 a year in today’s money, and I for one would attribute that to his skill in reading guests, not because he steeped his own bitters.
Study after study confirm that total inter-personal communication is 38 percent body language, 45 percent intonation and just 7 percent verbal, i.e. word choice. Most people do not consciously observe or adjust their body language— but I am sure you have at least once, just moments after meeting someone, made a snap judgment about whether you like him or not? That’s body language. You may not even have heard the gentleman in question speak, but you just do not like him. The chap in question might eventually get into your good graces, but he is going to have to work a lot harder than if you had liked him at first glance.
One aspect of body language is that we see much more than we think we do. Malcolm Gladwell’s great 2006 book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking explains “micro expressions”, tiny facial expressions that we make for less than a second, that cannot be differentiated by the naked eye, only in slow-motion reply on video. But our eyes do see them when they occur, and we react accordingly— but not consciously. And that’s your snap decision, which is very often the correct one (see Gerd Gigerenzer’s 2007 book Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious for further reading).
Body Language Precepts
1. Body language expresses how you feel, but it also influences how you feel. If a guest is asking for recommendations but is sitting there in a “closed” posture— arms and legs crossed, perhaps the head lowered and tucked in slightly— he isn’t really interested in recommendations. He might be tired, cold or maybe intimidated by you, your bar or the drinks list, but for whatever reason, he is “closed”. If you hand that guest an open menu, lean forward just a little, and talk just a bit more softly than you normally would, he will open his hands (to grab the menu) and lean forward, which will probably force him to uncross his legs. Instantly, you have created an “open” guest that cannot help but be more receptive to your suggestions. Body language both expresses and influences your feelings.
2. Body language is also language. You can no more draw reliable inferences from one posture of body language than you can by overhearing one word of a conversation. You have to follow someone for a while and establish a “baseline” of their body language in different situations before you can accurately read it. And body language is culture-specific: Scandinavians use much less, and different, body language than do, say, Spaniards. In some cultures, nodding your head means “no” while shaking it means “yes”.

3. Body language is contextual. A lady might be crossing her arms and legs, indicating a “closed” state of mind. This may be due to (a) a long day at work, so she needs to relax mindlessly, or (b) the fact that she feels cold or (c) she’s wearing a low-cut top and a short skirt. Context is all, and it must dictate your approach.
4. Body language rules. If someone is verbally saying A, but, through body language, communicating B, we will deduce he is saying B, or at the very least that he is not being honest when he says A. We often pick up on this as a “gut feeling”.  
 Rapport can be quickly established through body language by pacing. This is nothing more than, in a very general way, copying the other person’s body language, breathing rhythm, blinking rhythm, word choice and speaking rhythm. Don’t copy the other person’s moves exactly— that gets creepy quickly— but if the person you’re speaking to runs her fingers through her hair, you could scratch your neck, that sort of thing. She smiles, you smile. After a while of this you can start to match the other person’s breathing and blinking rhythm. You can even mirror word choice:
Her: “… and I was just looking at this guy, like, what did I ever see in him?” (she’s using visual words) You: “Yeah, I see what you’re saying, he must have looked like a fool. Ha ha ha!” (... and so are you, you clever thing!)
 Once you have established rapport, you can begin leading. Change your breathing, or make a movement, or change your word choice and see if the other person adjusts to follow you. If you’ve never done anything like this before, when you start to lead successfully after pacing for a while, it will be your “Whoa!” moment. You’ll have to stifle a “BU-WA-HA-HA-HA!” or two.
The words you use are only 7 percent of communication but they are still important. The right words can awaken powerful memories and the accompanying emotions, all anchored by aroma and flavour memories, like Proust biting into a tea-dunked madelaine in his semi-autobiographical, seven volume novel A la Recherche du Temps Perdu [Remembrances of Things Past] (1913-1927).
It’s no coincidence that the ridiculously successful Harry Potter books contain lots and lots of descriptions of eating and drinking. And are you ready for another “duh! moment? You must listen to what people say. Not drift off, wondering what your nickname would be if you got a job with The A-Team. Not surreptitiously text-messaging. Listen. In the world of sales, it is often said that a customer will tell you how they want you to sell something to them. Here, with thanks to Derren Brown, an excellent example:
You (Bartender): “Welcome sir! Thanks for dropping by. What can I get such a good-looking young man about town like yourself tonight?”
 Guest: “I was looking for a gin and I saw your back-bar, I see you have a lot…….”
 You: “Yes, do have any favourites you like to drink?”
Guest: “Well, how about that one there in the pink neon bottle with the flashing lights on it? That looks cool!”
You (stifling a pained expression): “Well, to be quite honest, that one’s a bit, er… crap. It’s cold-compounded rubbish made by drunken chimps, ordered on consignment and sold only to gullible fools who watch more than one reality TV show per week. Would you like to try Juniperbomeateray Emerald? It’s pot-stilled Bermondsey-style with just a hint of African tree-hound carcass (and you put the bottle in the guest’s hands).
Guest (looking as if you just handed him a rotting tree-hound carcass): “Er, no, it’s OK, tell you what, I’ll have a beer…..”
 See what happened? The guest was using words that made it very clear he was only interested in how the gin looked (“ I was looking... I saw... I see... That looks...), while the all-knowing bartender had gotten past the “looks” of bottles years ago to concentrate on their inherent qualities— and failed to really listen to what the guest was saying.
In the above situation, a bartender who was better at listening could have just sold the guest the gin in the flashy bottle, or at least a gin that was a good compromise between quality and flashy packaging. Here’s how it might have gone:
Guest: “Well, how about that one there in the neon bottle with the flashing lights on it? That looks cool!”
You: “I see, I see, it IS spectacular, isn’t it? I must say, you really know your gins. When I’m looking for a gin – like you are – I always look for a good balance of a beautiful package and an absolutely delicious, well-made gin, don’t you? How about this G’Jewelarioselleouth Air Force Strength? It’s proper distilled gin and look! the bottle glows in the dark!!”
Guest: “Awesome dude! (high-fives you). Make mine a double!”
 A whopping 38 percent of communication, intonation is the speed at which you speak, the emphasis you place on words, and your use of strategic pauses to get and keep the audience’s attention. It is one of the first skills that actors learn, and most of us know at least one person, actor or not, who can hold a group spellbound as he tells the most mundane of stories, or the most unfunny of jokes.

The primary exercise is to stand where a friend of yours cannot see you, and try saying a normal word (I favour “elbow”) in at least five different ways— for example, aggressively, seductively, whiny, inquisitively and bored. Get your friend to write down each time what emphasis he thinks you are putting on the words, and compare notes afterwards.

Pausing for effect, done correctly, has the audience hanging on your every word. It is used brilliantly by most politicians, who all seem to have the same media trainer. Try speaking this sentence, clearly and confidently with a one-second pause in between each line:
“It is very important indeed To know that distilling, especially double-distilling Is essential to the integrity of the spirit And we Must always demand That our spirits be double-distilled” This, of course, is nonsense. But read with confidence in a clear voice with the correct pauses, it sounds like the freakin’ Gettysburg Address.
The speed at which you speak is also important: a precept of establishing rapport— watch the Derren Brown/ Simon Pegg video again if you have not yet— is that you can overwhelm the other person into agreement with a rapidly-spoken chain of sentences. Quickly rattling off thoughts, facts, figures (politicians are excellent at this) overwhelms listeners, so much so that when you pause very slightly in your high-speed delivery and ask the other person for a yes or a no, or to do something or not to do, they will do exactly as you ask, if you have already established rapport through relaxation, pacing and leading.

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