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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Southern Hospitality and How To Be Charming

I grew up in the Northeast, spent almost 10 years in the South (spread over two trips), and have finally moved back to the NorthEast. So, while I'm not the first to notice the difference between the interpersonal styles in the two regions (i.e. the whole "Southern Hospitality" thing), it'is pretty obvious to me now. The biggest criticism about Southern Hospitality is that it's fake.

Duh! Of course it is.

A big part of good manners, graciousness, and hospitality is treating the other person nicely when you feel like choking the bejeezuss out of them. And southern children get trained by their mommas to be polite or there WILL be hell to pay. I know - my best friend in High School was a good southern boy, and his mother made sure he knew how to act.

Being charming is a lot the same. It comes naturally to some, but it can be trained. I just came across a quick guide titled How to Be Charming from BrianKim.net. While it has many other good nuggets of advice, it had a few that the ones that reminded me about living "down south":

5. Pretend you're the host and talk to everybody... Most people don't have the guts to approach strangers, so when you do it for them, they'll be extremely grateful.

6. You, not I. Charming people focus on the other person. Rarely are they themselves the topic of discussion. When you're out there schmoozing, listen to people when they talk to you and give them feedback to indicate that you are listening and that you understand.

7. Make them feel good. Give people genuine compliments. Everybody needs compliments like food and water because everybody's self esteem can always use a little boost. Don't go for the cliche compliments like everyone else. Remember, you're the charismatic one. You've got to step it up a notch. Think of a genuine killer compliment.

Also, don't forget to use the power of touch. Studies have shown that touching promotes bond and trust between people. A hormone called oxytocin is secreted when you touch someone. Oxytocin is a feel good hormone so when they get hit with it, they associate that good feeling with you. Obviously, use your better judgment here. Don't go up and start molesting people. Be tactful with your touch.

There's lots's more. Read the whole thing here.

The best comment I heard about the differences between Northerners and Southerners was "Up North, conversations are about information; Down South they're about making the other person feel good."

HT: Newmark's Door, who comes up with good stuff like this on a regular basis.

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