In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 17, 2005 / 10 Sivan, 5765

I am a charm school survivor

By Gene Weingarten

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My campaign to become a beloved National Treasure has hit a small snag, in that most people seem to hate me. I judge this from the letters I get, such as this one, which was written in Magic Marker across the top of a recent column of mine, and which I quote here verbatim: "You are an idiot!!"

I am not. A major hallmark of idiots is that they aren't smart enough to know when to seek professional help. But when I found out a local high school was going to host an adult-education seminar on "How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less," I signed right up.

The instructor was a cheerful woman named Nancy. Nancy is an expert in feng shui, which appears to be the ancient, mystical Chinese art of rearranging furniture. Nancy immediately assured us that this class would be not at all New Agey, but a pragmatic, hands-on, scientifically based guide to achieving likeability by, and I quote, "adjusting your internal bodily energy circuits before you enter into another person's energy field."

So right from the get-go I sensed I was in trouble. It quickly got worse when Nancy asked people to suggest the sorts of attitudes that might help a person bond with others. Someone said "openness and flexibility." Someone else said "enthusiasm and cheerfulness." I suggested "negativity and sarcasm," on the theory that we often find ourselves at the mercy of morons, lunatics and incompetents, and that sometimes people can bond in recognition of, and joyful opposition to, this central, ghastly fact of life. Nancy gave me a look that suggested that her energy fields were about to open a can of whup-ass on my energy fields.

Next came some exercises. In the first one, we were to practice establishing instant rapport with another person, which involved doing things like physically aligning our heart with the other person's heart, shaking hands vigorously and with enormous faked sincerity, and, most important, establishing eye contact. A good way to make sure you establish eye contact, Nancy said, is always to make note of the other person's eye color.

I found myself paired with Heather, the youngest, prettiest woman in the room. I admit I was a little nervous and flustered. I decided I would start right off by not only observing her eye color, but commenting cheerfully and enthusiastically about her eye color, to establish rapport. It didn't go well.

Me: Hi! I'm Gene! I can't help but notice that you have . . . you have . . .

Heather: Yes?

Me: Say, what color are your eyes?

Heather: Actually, they're dichromatic. They're different colors.

Me: They are! One is sort of hazel and one is sort of brown! It's just like those dogs!

Heather: Those . . . dogs?

Me: You know, Siberian huskies? Some huskies have one brown eye and one blue.

Heather: Oh.

Me: (Uh-oh.) Wait, I'm not calling you a dog.


Me: I mean, you look quite . . . fetching.


Me: I don't mean like a dog!


Me: I am going to sit down now.

Donate to JWR

Next our job was to engage our partner in conversation. Nancy had elaborate rules for how to do this, including the types of questions to ask (nothing that could be answered just yes or no), and the proper way to tilt your head and hold your eyes, and special, secret, encouraging phrases to use as a listener (e.g., "Wow!" "Really?" "I see!").

Heather and I started talking this way, but after tilting and blinking and properly aligning our hearts for a few seconds, we quickly forgot about the rules and just got to chatting, which is when I learned that Heather is a smart, engaging, likable person. She is a social worker, but also an avid outdoorswoman who has volunteered on wilderness rescue teams, finding lost hikers. I asked her if there were any interesting things she had learned from this, and she said that the genders react differently to this crisis in one principal way: Women thank their rescuers, while men who are rescued almost invariably deny they were lost, even if they were, like, licking rainwater from tree stumps and eating slugs.

Now, before I took this course, I might have laughed heartily at this observation. But, curiously, at no time during the five-hour-long lesson had the word "humor" even come up as a tactic for making people like you. So, instead, I said, "Wow! Really? I see!"

That's when we laughed.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Gene Weingarten writes the Below the Beltway humor column for The Washington Post. To comment, please click here.


© 2005 WPWG