Today the universe seems to be telling me I should start lying. My first indication came when I stopped off at the library this morning and a copy of Paul Ekman's "Telling Lies" was waiting for me on hold.
Then I'm doing my usual web surfing to avoid doing anything productive and I came across an article on charisma. According to researchers (and researchers are always right), charisma can be learned! Okay, not fully, but one can push oneself to be more charismatic. Unfortunately, it involves listening intently to others and not trying too hard to be the center of attention; there's two strikes against me.
The third, and strangest, sign came in the form of a voicemail informing me that someone I know has been diagnosed with tuberculosis. That means that anyone the person has been in contact with in the past few months is obligated by the health department to notify anyone who may have been exposed. I don't think anyone has tested positive yet and the likelihood of catching it is low.
Still, if it turns out that by some unfortunate stroke of luck I end up getting it as well, I will be called upon to pretend everything is fine in my life, which is where my book on lying will come in handy.
TB is curable in about 95% of cases if treatment is sought. So I'm not truly talking about a life or death situation. Nevertheless, TB is a conversation killer. If someone asks, "How are you?" and you answer, "I have TB, but other than that I'm cool." that's bound to freak people out, and probably prompt them to slowly back away from you. Armed with newfound charisma and knowledge of lies, I'll be able to smile and say "Fantastic! Yourself?", and then feign deep interest.
Anyhoo, for more on how to be charismatic, see below for advice I snagged off the BBC's website. And if you'd like to learn how you can become infected with TB, just click on the tuberculosis link.
General: Open body posture, hands away from face when talking, stand up straight, relax, hands apart with palms forwards or upwards
To an individual: Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them, develop a genuine smile, nod when they talk, briefly touch them on the upper arm, and maintain eye contact
To a group: Be comfortable as leader, move around to appear enthusiastic, lean slightly forward and look at all parts of the group
Message: Move beyond status quo and make a difference, be controversial, new, simple to understand, counter-intuitive
Speech: Be clear, fluent, forceful and articulate, evoke imagery, use an upbeat tempo, occasionally slow for tension or emphasis