How It Works: Clinton's "Reality Distortion Field" Charisma

One piece of the puzzle: getting eye contact right. Not evasive, not creepy — just right. (Photo: Mr. Theklan)

This is a guest post from Michael Ellsberg, a good friend who’s spent the last several years studying interpersonal persuasion and language (spoken and unspoken).

He has performed hundreds of tests in the field as the creator of Eye Gazing Parties, which resembles speed-dating with no speaking. Elle magazine called his parties “New York’s hottest dating trend,” and for good reason. Having attended one party, I can attest: three minutes of staring into someone’s eyes tells you more about them than ten minutes of talking.

In this post, he deconstructs Bill Clinton’s so-called “reality distortion field” into elements you can practice for business or pleasure. Don’t miss the play-by-play video demonstration…

Enter Michael Ellsberg

I’ve figured out the secret—or at least, a big secret—of Bill Clinton’s legendary charm and face-to-face persuasion.

“I have a friend who has always despised Bill Clinton,” a person at a cocktail party told me during the time I was writing my book about eye contact. “Yet, somehow my friend found himself at a function that Bill Clinton was attending. And, within the swirl of the crowd, he was introduced to Clinton.”

“In that moment, face-to-face, all of my friend’s personal animosity towards Clinton disappeared, in one instant,” my new acquaintance at the party continued. “As they were shaking hands, Clinton made eye contact with my friend in a way so powerful and intimate, my friend felt as though the two of them were the only people in the room.”

Steve Jobs is famous for having a “Reality Distortion Field” (RDF)—an aura of charisma, confidence, and persuasion, in which people report it almost impossible to avoid surrendering to the man and following his will when interacting face-to-face. Well—love his politics or hate them—Clinton is known for an RDF even stronger than Jobs’.  Perhaps the strongest in the world.

So, what’s the secret to Clinton’s RDF?

While writing my book, I heard some version of the above story about Clinton not once but three times. So, I Googled “Bill Clinton” and “eye contact.” A number of references to Clinton’s eye powers turned up.

A New York Times Magazine profile near the beginning of his presidency referred to his facility for “making eye contact so deep that recipients sometimes seem mesmerized. Tabloid rumors aside, Clinton embodies the parallels between the seductions of politics and the seductions of sex. As one Clinton watcher said recently: ‘It’s not that Clinton seduces women. It’s that he seduces everyone.'”

A post on the celebrity news blog WENN said, “Actress Gillian Anderson has discovered the secret behind former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s sex appeal—lingering eye contact.”

Anderson (Special Agent Dana Scully on The X-Files) spoke on Late Night With David Letterman of an encounter she had with Clinton several years earlier: “We all, mostly women, lined up. And when he gets to you, he takes your hand and makes eye contact. After he leaves and he moves on to the next person, he looks back at you and seals the deal. When I got home, I expected to have a message from him, and I didn’t. I bet women across America expect it too.”

Is it possible to hack this skill with eye contact? Is it possible to recreate Bill Clinton’s fabled RDF? (At least, the eye contact part?)

Absolutely. In my experience training myself and others, you can become a world-class master of eye contact in about 2 weeks.

How to Go From “Eye Shy” to “Eye Ballsy” In Three Easy Steps

STEP 1: Practice Brief Eye Contact With Strangers

While you walk down the sidewalk (during daylight hours!) look at the eyes of every person walking towards you long enough to see their eye color. Less than a second. Then look away. This is the best technique I know for building solid eye contact skills quickly. In my experience, if the eye contact is brief enough, no one minds at all, and you get tons of practice in.

You can also practice longer eye contact with waiters, salesclerks, cashiers, and other paid service staff, so long as you do it respectfully and in a friendly way.

In all cases, keep a neutral facial expression and soft gaze. You don’t want anyone to think you’re trying to stare them down, rob them, or get them into the sack. If you practice all this for a week or two as you go about your daily business, the quality of your eye contact will become better than most people’s, in a short amount of time.

STEP 2: Learn the Art of Personal Space

You’ve probably experienced bosses or strangers “get up in your face,” and it feels very unpleasant. Bill Clinton and others with RDFs are experts at getting close to you while making you feel totally safe and comfortable. This increases feelings of intimacy, trust, and affinity.

How do they do it? They have mastered the subtle art of personal space. First written about in-depth by anthropologist Edward Hall, our sense of “personal space” is the feeling we get of being “invaded” when someone steps too close.

Interestingly, our sense of personal space is not a pure function of physical proximity; many other psychological factors influence it. In general, your sense of physical proximity with someone increases when they are:

  • Making direct eye contact with you
  • Facing you directly (as opposed to standing side-by-side looking into the crowd)
  • Touching you (i.e., rubbing elbows in a crowd, patting your back, touching your arm or shoulder)
  • Raising their voice
  • Talking about you (as opposed to a neutral subject)

If a stranger starts doing too many of these at once, your personal space begins to feel violated, and you start having that icky “eww get away from me!” feeling we’ve all experienced with unwelcome conversations at parties.

In contrast, if you learn to modulate these five different factors, and combine them in different ways, you can make your conversation partners feel safe and comfortable while at the same time feeling close and intimate with you.

When you increase eye contact, try leaning back or standing back a little to increase their comfort. When you are physically close because it’s a crowded room, try lowering your voice. When you pat someone on the back or touch their arm as you talk, try standing at an angle, not facing them directly.

By playing with these different factors, cranking some of the dials up as you turn others down, you can create the feeling of being incredibly close, without triggering the “Red Alert! Get Away!” response in your conversation partner. People with RDFs are masters of this skill. And it’s very seductive.

STEP 3: Practice Being Present

Have you ever felt someone was making eye contact with you, but wasn’t taking in a thing you were saying? My friend Marie Forleo has referred to this phenomenon as a “pretend gaze—their eyes are on yours, but their mind is on a Hawaiian beach.”

In our age of tweets and Facebook status updates and cellphone buzzes and new texts and IMs and VMs every few seconds, focusing your inner attention on the same person you’re talking with can be challenging, but its worth practicing the skill. (BTW, following Tim’s low-information diet helps with this.)

For one week, whenever you talk with someone, practice noticing whenever your mind drifting—to the laundry, your bills, you co-worker’s snide comment today, that hottie you just spotted at the party whom you want to meet. Then, when you notice this inevitable mental drifting, bring your attention back to whomever you’re talking with at the moment. They will truly appreciate it.

We are living in a world where no one, it seems, has attention for anyone or anything for more than a few moments. How rare it is when someone pays attention to us. Consider the wording of the phrase: pay attention. In industrialized nations, at least, attention is becoming almost as scarce a resource as money. Someone who “pays” it to you is giving you something of true value.

As Elizabethan poet and statesman Fulke Greville has written, “Our companions please us less from the charms we find in their conversation than from those they find in ours.”

Clinton pays out his focused attention generously, making us feel he’s truly interested in us and what we have to say. This is why people love talking with him face-to-face.

That feeling of “we were the only two people in the room,” which Clinton is so skillful in fostering, stems from his eye contact, from his careful use of personal space, and from his unshakeable attention once he’s talking with you.

Learn to combine these three factors together, and you’re on your way to a rock-star Reality Distortion Field. Just be careful about what you do with all the attention!

BONUS: If you want a fantastic education in how the three factors we’ve been talking about–eye contact, personal space, and presence–interplay to create legendary persuasion, watch the below video clip from the second Bush-Clinton-Perot debate, on October 15, 1992.

The idea of a town-hall format was proposed to the Bush team by Clinton’s team in 1992, and Bush agreed. This was the first town hall presidential debate in US television history. Little did Bush know he had just agreed to battling the master on his own territory.

To appreciate just how fully Clinton nails this debate moment, I suggest watching the 4-minute clip twice–first with audio turned off, and then with audio on. If you’re at all interested in this post’s topic, it’ll be worth it.

I’ll put several comments below the video. [Note: I am not making any endorsement one way or the other about the political views expressed in this clip. I’m only talking about body language and persuasion.]

First point: In the initial seconds of the video, Bush checks his watch when the voter begins asking him a question. Presence? How about “How long do I have to listen to you before I can talk?” This was widely considered a “Dukakis-in-the-tank/Dean Scream” moment during the campaign, and among the worst gaffes in presidential debate history (up there with Gore’s sighs and eye rolls in 2000). And it all hinged on one moment of absent presence.

Notice Bush’s eye contact as he answers the woman’s question. It is sporadic, weak, drifting, and random. He hasn’t decided whether he’s talking to her, to the moderator, to the whole audience, or to the air in the room. In terms of personal space, he is totally unsure of how close he should stand; he walks closer to her, then backs off, visibly uncomfortable with the personal space aspect of the interchange. In all three factors of RDF we’ve talked about–eye contact, personal space, and presence–he’s clearly not making a personal connection with the voter.

At 2:30, when Clinton begins to answer, notice how he manages to simultaneously own the space and put the woman at ease. He walks up several yards closer than Bush did, making a personal connection in her space, without making her uncomfortable. His eye contact is clear, unwavering, and calm. There’s absolutely no mistaking whom he’s talking with. Clinton’s there in the room with two rival candidates, news media, other audience members, and a national TV audience of millions. Yet that feeling of “The only two people in the room” is palpable when he talks with the voter.

The result of this town hall debate? 58% of viewers declared Clinton the winner of the debate, 16% for Bush, and 15% for Perot. (In the previous debate, with a traditional podium format, 47% of viewers declared Perot to be the winner, with 30% for Clinton, and 16% for Bush.)

Look at the woman’s response at 3:22. Clinton completely has her. (Remember actress Gillian Anderson’s comment?) Bush’s facial expression at 3:47 is priceless. He knows he’s been beaten.


About the author: Michael Ellsberg is the author of The Power of Eye Contact. For his forthcoming book, already purchased by Penguin/Portfolio, he’s seeking to interview people who didn’t finish college who are successful at what they do. Fit the bill? Go to this page.

Ellsberg is also the creator of Eye Gazing Parties, a series of social events based on eye contact which attracted feature press coverage from the New York Times, Associated Press TV, CBS News, CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, Regis & Kelly, and more. Elle magazine called Eye Gazing Parties “New York’s hottest dating trend.”

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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230 Replies to “How It Works: Clinton's "Reality Distortion Field" Charisma”

  1. Hey Tim,

    Great guest post! I have always been fascinated by how some politicians like Bill Clinton have always been able to instantly connect with people they talk to. The secret, at least from I’ve learned from interacting with people like that, is that they make you feel like the only person in the room, even if it is a crowded party. I would guess that after meeting a politician, 90% of voters would support them if they had a very positive interaction with them, even if it was only for a few minutes!

  2. I’m reminded of Fran Lebowitz’s line — “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.” (Clinton’s checkered past brings to mind Martha Stout, Ph.d.’s comment in her book THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR about how sociopaths manipulate others: “The first technique is charm, and as a social force, charm should not be underestimated.” p. 87.)

    1. This is the best guest post I’ve read on your blog Tim, because it doesn’t just highlight the spectical of the RDF, it makes it make sense. Well done Michael. Thank you.

      @ Lupercalia, you hit the mark as well with Fran Lebowitz’s line — “The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”

      It’s important to ensure the charm that comes from this is used in moral ways, because if you take advantage of the charm in the wrong way, you become sleazy.

      The definition of sleazy? If the girl you flirt with finds you attractive, you’re charming, but unattractive, you’re sleazy.

      The lesson? Clinton’s charm combined with ill intentions will come across as a sleazy car salesman.

      @Tim: The new reply system is great too.

      1. Thanks, Tgrrr! This quote in your comment is fantastic:

        “The definition of sleazy? If the girl you flirt with finds you attractive, you’re charming, but unattractive, you’re sleazy.”

        Ah, c’est la vie!


      2. Tgrrr, you’re absolutely right that “it’s important to ensure the charm that comes from this is used in moral ways, because if you take advantage of the charm in the wrong way, you become sleazy.”

        I think that the more we study persuasion, the more we also have to get in touch with our own sense of integrity and values. Persuasion in the service of your highest ideals, or of helping someone (such as persuading someone to eat healthier, stop smoking, take their career more seriously, etc.) is noble. Persuasion in service of getting something from someone, with no benefit to them, is icky. It’s a fine line, and ultimately your own sense of integrity has to be the arbiter.

        I think there’s also a lot of hidden wisdom in your funny line, “The definition of sleazy? If the girl you flirt with finds you attractive, you’re charming, but unattractive, you’re sleazy.”

        It’s so true… and it shows that the sense of trust and charm comes “before” actions–i.e., people find your actions trustworthy and charming because they find *you* trustworthy and charming–not the other way around. So, even though Steps 1 and 2 in my post teach outer “techniques,” I really think that Step 3, cultivating presence, is where the heart of it is. That’s where you get real, and it makes it much more likely that others trust your words and actions. Of course, back to your first point–it all has to be backed up by integrity.

      3. “The definition of sleazy? If the girl you flirt with finds you attractive, you’re charming, but unattractive, you’re sleazy.”

        Disagree. Plenty of very physically men come across as sleazy and/or smarmy. Plenty of plain and less attractive men (although, admittedly, few genuinely ugly) are made very appealing by their charm. The charm involves personal attention and wit. The sleaze factor isn’t very physical. A mediocre personality but ugly appearance isn’t really going to hit on my radar much at all; mediocre and ugly is neutral and peripheral.

        The above descriptions of entering someone’s personal space rings true, so those descriptions are what I am referencing in this next statement:

        Sleaze is all about personality. Sleaze is perceived when I feel as if the man is abusing and manipulating my space. This is beyond just invading my personal space. An invasion for its own sake, deliberate or accidental, feels more like blunt force. When a man invades my personal space and causes me to feel as if he a) expects *me* to *enjoy* the invasion and b) expects to receive something in return… that’s the sleazy smarminess that rankles my nerves. I can reject blunt force and I might not even notice neutral, but a deliberate invasion that is trying to slink its way in hoping to receive something back? Ew.

      4. I agree with Lorien. If I had to rely on my looks, I would be sitting in my room playing Atari (more than I already do). Over the years I have learned that the sexiest part of a man’s body is his ear. I found that listening, repeating back, understanding and then empathizing goes a long, long way. Throw in some confidence and humor and you have a great recipe for success.

    2. lupercalia (sic):

      are you suggesting that president clinton is a sociopath? as for “checkered past,” i was hoping that we had stepped out of the lurid details of stained dresses (not for us to comment on but exclusively the domain of bill and hillary clinton’s private relationship) and considered important presidential issues such as balancing the budget, for example. how interesting, instead, that in this debate the future president inherits a deficit from bush senior, fixes it, hands it to bush junior who will in turn create another deficit, and will hand it to president obama — who is now blamed for the economic recession.

      1. be fair. without the republicans winning in 94 there is no balanced budget. as for the republicans blowing out the deficit after that, I cant argue. The problem is now we don’t have a president who wants to balance the budget.

      2. Gloria- This was a post about eye-contact, not the merits of anyone’s politics. But since you couldn’t resist jumping in… 1) Clinton is more than charming rascal… he’s a serial abuser and rapist -* Juanita Broaddrick ring a bell or did you forget her among all the others?* 2) Would intentionally infecting hundreds of people with HIV and Hep C for money count as sociopathic behavior? Google Clinton’s involvement in the Arkansas Red Cross blood scandal 3) I don’t know what your ‘Ph.D’ is in but it cant be economics- the illusion of the Clinton economic surplus was based on virtual internet capitol which vanished with the dot com bust- and that happened in the last quarter of his presidency

        But the man’s eye contact is stellar..

  3. Fantastic! I’ve highlighted every time Clinton’s name is mentioned in “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi (almost finished reading it). Fantastic study Tim and Michael!

    Tim, you may get a laugh out of this – When I read step 2 above, all I could think about at first was the Seinfeld “Close Talker” episode 🙂


    – Josh

  4. Wow, that was fascinating! I just got done watching “Lie to Me” a few moments ago… Tim Roth’s masterful show about reading body language and facial expressions. Very similar premise to this post. Cool stuff, both.

  5. I recall one such eye gazing event I attended in San Fran, hosted by the AMP/AWE group (awesome people, BTW).

    Standing across from someone you like is easy. With someone you might prefer in smaller doses, now that’s where the *real* action is!

  6. Bill Clinton is the master at persuasive eye contact, just looking at him gives you a fuzzy feeling, like he’s your longtime friend. Great post.

    1. Clinton’s also the master of spinning tall tales. Knowing him after 8 years in office, and after reading his book, it’s obvious that he is able to tell bold-face lies to the woman who asked the question while looking her square in the eye. He doesn’t know the factory worker that gets laid off in his state. He doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer in a downturn in our private sector because he’s always been dependent on government for his wage and his home since he left for college. Yet he can seem empathetic and understanding while lying through his teeth. A true sociopath!

  7. This is very true. Try talking only when making eye contact. Silent when one looks away; pause. Resume speaking only when eye contact resumes. The difference is amazing. Especially in a sales environment.

  8. Tim,

    Thank you for always posting very interesting, and thought provoking articles. Persuasion is a near and dear subject to my heart and anything that explains techniques and ideas of how it works, is very useful. I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for a product involving persuasion but so far have fallen short. Would love to get your process of product creation, from how you get the initial idea, to the development of the final product.


    1. Have you read the Four Hour Work Week, Ergest? It doesn’t sound like you have, since your question is covered in there.

  9. Hi Tim –

    I just had the amazing opportunity to have lunch with Michael, and his beautiful wife, Jena. What I noticed immediately was they both communicated so much with their eyes without saying a word. I’ve also been in a room with Bill Clinton, and he has definitely mastered the art of eye contact.

    Eye contact + Presence + Sincerity = Instant Attraction

    Thanks for a great post!

    1. Hey Tonya–thanks for the sweet comment! Yes, Jena and I first met on a salsa dance floor with loud music (at Burning Man) so almost all of our initial communication was body language, much of it eye contact. Now we’re married! Powerful stuff indeed. . .

  10. Thanks for this post Tim. I’m going to pick this book up (after I read the 4HB!)

    I wonder if this is something that Clinton had to learn or if this is natural? More posts on this topic please.

  11. Great post and thanks for sharing! It’s always great to read information that can break down why certain people have more charisma than others, especially for shy people like me! Really interested to see if there are eye gazing parties in Sydney Australia now!

  12. Dear Tim,

    Great post. It’s truly fascinating to watch the video. In the 4 seconds between 0:03 and 0:07 Mr. Bush checks his watch AND hitches up his trousers—almost as if to say “I’ll make this quick because I’m in charge AND because the person asking the question is an idiot!” At the SAME TIME, watch how Mr. Perot echoes Mr. Clinton’s stance. Mr. Perot is sitting behind Mr. Clinton’s line of sight but Mr. Perot is wise enough to know who to echo in terms of stance and overall body language, and it’s NOT Mr. Bush.

    At 1:31, Mr. Bush points at the questioner … and then he closes his eyes and HE LOOKS AWAY! Totally dismissing the woman and her line of enquiry. Whoops, and George has fluffed it!

    At 02:32, when Mr. Bush has finished speaking, he returns to his seat but

    his back is to the entire audience. Freeze the frame just there and there’s a subtle but DISTINCT difference between Mr. Bush’s retreat and Mr. Clinton’s advance.

    At 02:42, EVERY EYE in the audience is on Mr. Clinton. A second later, the man and woman directly in front of Mr. Clinton both look to their left (at Mr. Bush). And at the same time, the four people to the left and right of Mr. Clinton’s head ALL look at Mr. Bush. It’s only on screen for a fraction of a second before the camera cuts back to Mr. Clinton, but by then, the damage to Mr. Bush may well have been done. At 03:19, when Mr. Clinton is talking, we see the questioner AND Mr. Clinton and the questioner is nodding her head: VICTORY for Mr. Clinton!

    All incredibly revealing and all magical. Thanks again for sharing this.

    Kind regards,

    Gary Bloomer

  13. Right, I would say Steve Jobs is probably the ultimate salesman/story teller we have, and as far as charisma, he was pretty much THE GUY in the 1980’s. These day’s he can turn it on when he wants to, but as Apple has grown into the biggest (Market cap) Tech company on the market, he’s often in a position of defending himself, not so much the Golden Boy he once was.

    If you want to hear him tell a few great stories, go download the free Podcast with him and Bill Gates at the D conference a few years back (2007 I believe).

    Also, an amazing gem: an print interview with Playboy (I swear it was like 2 hours long) … Where Jobs basically talks about the power of computing, back when it was just breaking into the Mainstream.

  14. As a relatively conservative republican, I have to admit that Clinton is absolutely a social genius. The above clip is just legendary. Great article.

  15. The reason Clinton is so successful IMO is that he really really cares about people. It’s part of his small town Southern roots and his being a boy raised by adoring grandparents (he lost his father before he was born). He didn’t have a sibling until he was much older. He’s highly intelligent, politically gifted (and this is connected with his love of people and his desire to be loved), and wants to make life better for people. He’s devoted his life to other people, not to personal gain or retiring to golf. Consider the Clinton Foundation.

    I don’t think he has such a wall between him and other people as those who are more guarded or, fell abandoned by a parent in some way do. He fells your pain because he is genuinely empathetic. A psychopath might study the various ways to manipulate people, but basically, it’s all a charade and people will catch on eventually. He doesn’t have to read someone else’s words off a teleprompter to know what he values. Read “First in His Class” by David Maraniss to understand more about the man’s life.

  16. I CAN’T believe Bush checked his watch. I missed it the first time. What a GREAT way to start answering a question.

    He really torpedoed it from there.

    1. I didn’t catch it the first time either. The really powerful thing here is that our unconscious minds probably caught it. All this body language stuff really resonates at the unconscious level.


  17. This is something I have been wanting to learn more about for a long time. I do massage in Miami so it is important to me that I get the eye contact part down at the first meeting so that the client feels totally comfortable.

    I practice it in many situations throughout my life, but sometimes I look away awkwardly and hate myself for it. Success depends on the situation, the other person, and the amount of distractions. The hard thing about this is that success is hard to determine and when I realize I’m doing this successfully, I drop the ball. It feels like there is a lot of energy involved in maintaining the balance and congruency.

    I guess you could also call RDF Jedi Mind Tricks. The book will make a good Christmas gift for myself.

  18. Michael, this is a brilliant post, thank you so much for sharing with us! And Tim? Thanks for sharing *Michael* with us!

  19. Haha – brilliant! My favorite part is that Clinton didn’t even talk about how “the national debt” had actually affected him personally, but the voter still seemed very satisfied because he delivered it so smoothly.

    I love the couple of small steps he adds in, for dramatic effect, at 2:43.

  20. This is a great post from a field I’d love to see you explore more.

    People are starting to come around to the idea of lifestyle design, but so few have bought into the idea of personality design — learning charisma, that sort of thing. Those who do get personality design tend not to have embraced the entrepreneurial aspect of lifestyle design.

    Glad to see you breaking down the silos. If people can learn from both fields we are gonna start to see some truly awesome human beings.

  21. Knocked another one out of the park. It never ceases to amaze me how much valuable and actionable information comes from this site.

  22. Lets be fair… Clinton just changed the subject. Yes, it is very effective to guide the answer away from the question, but it still doesn’t answer the question.

    In terms of the question, neither candidate answered it well. Why? Because it made no sense. “How has the national debt affected you personally?” It affects everybody in the same way… I won’t get into the economics of this; i’m just sayin..

    1. Hi Ryan,

      I think you’re both right and wrong here. You’re right he didn’t answer the question at its face value–but it is quite clear that the questioner was confused. It was obvious, particularly after the clarifications during Bush’s segment, that the questioner meant “How has the *recession* affected you personally,” not the “national debt”.

      Granted, Clinton had the benefit of the clarification during Bush’s time– but still, I think Bush dropped the ball here. Her question was rather confusing, and he could have asked for clarification politely. Instead, he adopted a fairly hostile/defensive position from the outset. I think this had to do with lack of presence (Step 3 in my post), the same lack of presence that had him look at his watch while the voter was asking her question.

      In my view, Clinton, in turn, really felt into the questioner, felt the emotion behind her question (the pain, frustration), and bonded with her over that pain and frustration. Major rapport here going on. He answered her implicit, emotional question, not the actual words out of her mouth, which were quite confused. It takes presence to feel into someone’s emotional state like that.

      Again, I’m talking about body language only–not making any comment here about the politics/economics behind the answers.

  23. Hey everyone–thanks for the amazing positive feedback.

    @Josh Crocker–what a great video clip. The “close talker” is creating the exact opposite of an RDF–he’s creating a “get away from me” field! Notice how the more he leans in, the more the others lean away–bad news for personal charisma or persuasion.

  24. What an interesting guest post Tim. When discussing body language, eye contact is often hardly paid attention to. I’ve always been mesmerized by Clinton’s charismatic qualities, and after reading this article I definitely see how eye contact plays somewhat of a big part to that.

    On a side note, I can’t wait for the 4HB! Ever since I’ve come across the 4HWW, my outlook on life, work, and business has definitely been flipped (in the most excellent of ways!). Your blog (as all of your writing) is truly inspirational, Tim. I’m inspired by the way you are helping to change the world!

    1. Thanks so much, Paul! This made my night. If the early feedback is any indication, the 4HB won’t disappoint. It’s very different from the last book, but it’s exactly what I wanted it to be, and I hope you enjoy it 🙂

      1. True Paul, 4HWW changed a lot of my views. And Tim- 4HB is literally the only thing that came to mind for my Christmas wish list. I hope you kept your overall tone the same in your writeing. I enjoyed the conversational feel of 4HWW.

  25. It is incredible how much can be said without actually saying anything. I once had a gentleman ask me to give an entire software presentation without saying a word. The purpose of the exercise was to have me analyze how much I was saying through my body language, facial expressions, and mouse movement on the screen. After silently demoing the software the participants were asked to state what they had learned. It turned out they learned only marginally less than when I was speaking!

    On a side note, eye contact works wonders when teaching. Whenever students drift off it takes only a few seconds of well timed eye contact to bring them straight back into the lesson. Think about it, were some of your best teachers also the ones who made consistent eye contact across the room? I bet the answer is yes.

  26. I do wonder if I’d respond differently to him in person, one on one. Watching him over the years from the 3rd person, he’s always come across as a circus clown stuffed in a suit, selling used cars to bleating sheep. The video was a perfect example. The question was terrible, an absolute disaster, and requried a throttle down to the 3rd grade on the part of the panel in order to maintain proper tact. Clinton did just that, and did it well (revisit clown/car/sheep point). Ideally, one has Bobby Knight sitting in a chair near by to hand those off to.

  27. Simple, powerful stuff here.

    But I wonder how well these tips will work in East Asia, where eye contact tends to be equated with aggression, especially if your social standing is lower than your interlocutor.

    My own experience living and working in Japan and Taiwan leads me to believe that above tips would still work quite well, but one would have to be all the more subtle and skilled in their ability to “crank the dials” (i.e. standing even further away when looking someone in the eye than one would in the West.)

  28. Great Post, and excellent example video.

    I find it a little difficult to practice making eye-contact with strangers when “out and about” because so many people are trying to avoid it, there seems to be this etiquette of “avoid, and ignore everyone, and everything else around you.”

    I think casual glances are very rare, and perhaps to increase the effectiveness of the drill, one should also practice casually interacting with strangers. For example just by saying, “Hello” to get someones attention.

    Anyone have any thoughts along these lines?

    1. Get The Look, but what is the Motive?

      Politicians want to retain or gain supporters, James Bond, needs to dominate a given situation to stay alive and complete his mission.

      You and I ?

      I am not American and live in Europe, the work ethic is very different here, if you require a fuller understanding I suggest “The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream” by Jeremy Rifkin. Basically humanity is put before personal achievement.

      So what is my motive for looking into somebody’s eyes, maybe to it’s to find out if the girl I’m having lunch with will have sex with me? I think not, if that was ‘my’ desire even the three minute look would only reveal that she is comfortable around me. Chris Rock will tell you that a woman knows in the first moment if she is going to sleep with you, she only hoping that you don’t say anything stupid to break the deal.

      Our daily objectives require, little eye contact, when we need something we get results – we haven’t forgotten how to be human beings. We make eye contact with our neighbour to feel better about where we live, we make eye contact to get served in a bar, we can make eye contact as a survival technique, crossing a road, look into the drivers’ eyes if he doesn’t see you he’ll hit you!

      Let’s not make contact with strangers with out motive, if you have been to NY or any other city this is a dangerous game you will just annoy that other person, even if you say hello or I thought I knew you.

      ‘What you looking at!?’ will be the reply or As they say here in Spain ¿Qué pasa tengo mons en la cara?!

  29. With all the distrust that we have towards politicians, Clinton being able to make people feel like he was paying complete and utter attention to them is an indispensable skill. I will be checking Michael’s book out!

  30. I second it, Tim Ferris for President

    Tim, your always looking for a challenge, this is it, get elected as President of the United States of America

  31. I was hesitant at first to invest another four minutes to watch the video in silence mode. I am glad I did, this is were the elements of presence and space where trully expressed. thanks Tim and thank you Brian. Great Article.

    1. Yes, there’s something really powerful about watching it without the sound. When the sound is off, the nonverbal aspects of the interaction pop out practically in 3D. You see a whole second conversation is going on underneath the conscious awareness of spoken language–the conversation of body language.

  32. Tim,

    In your previous video at Samovar tea, I noticed you doing things like touch, staying very present, and keeping a relaxed and powerful demeanor. From one practitioner to another, it was very obvious and great to see.

    You rock, and I have a feeling you’re going to find your woman (and she’ll find you) very, very soon.


  33. Oh, and the picture for this post..she’s GORGEOUS! Just had to add that. Great taste! You can feel her femininity, radiance, and love just from her smile and eyes.

    1. Thanks, Aaron 🙂 Yes, the girl in the photo is gorgeous. And, yes, let’s hope I find my woman soon. Been quite a while since I had a sweetheart around.

      1. Tim, you’re so proactive in so many ways (and rather goal-orientated), and I appreciate that this is possibly something that is too private to talk about in such an open forum, but I was wondering what proactive steps you are taking regarding your ‘lack of sweetheart’?

      2. Have you looked into pickup artist material? or by doctor paul for an approach created by a psychologist.

        I know, I know, there’s a big stigma around the pickup community, but I think they are the furthest advanced in the field of social dynamics. If you really understand and practice that stuff, plus have your life together, it’s incredibly powerful.

      3. Come on Tim! You’re successful, confident and good looking. Surely the ladies must throw themselves at you. Just choose one don’t be that picky

  34. Sweet post!

    It’s so great that these are learnable skills.

    By the way I’m typing over my shoulder and body rocking as I type this. ^_^

  35. Awesome. Make me a player, one blog post at a time. The subtext of power, not love, is intriguing. It’s like you’re discovering how to build nuclear bombs when most people are still using swords.

  36. And the hands. Clinton’s first gestures are directed towards himself (unthreatening, suggestive of sincerity), and his outward and emphatic gestures “have the brakes on” – trying not to be too fast or powerful, which would stimulate the “flee” response.

  37. Tim, nice change of pace from recent subjects of travel and such (not that I don’t immensely ENJOY those things, but it’s always nice to delve into different areas, human behavior I find especially interesting!).

    I think that eye contact and personal space recognition is extremely important. I have talked to groups of hundreds of people, and I always challenge myself and make a point to make contact with at least half the people in the room during a speech. If you can do that without losing focus of what you are talking about, it’s a great tool!

    How about you, Tim? Do you practice the startegies in the post? Any noteable successes? How about failures?

    Hope to see more subjects like this, thanks again!

  38. Hey Ron,

    Oh, yes. I constantly work on fixed my ticks, improving state awareness, etc. In fact, I have a full day of media training coming up (my second time in the last three years), which is 100% all the stuff mentioned in this post and then some.

    Nice to hear from you!

    Jia you!


  39. I think there’s a general lack of presence and eye contact in Western countries and that’s why it’s so powerful when you do it. For example, I found it very easy to attract girls in Brazil and Asia by just looking in their eyes. I could end up kissing a girl without speaking a word, also because I didn’t speak much of the language. Compare that with common dating knowledge as practised in Western countries where you’re supposed to come up with some great pickup lines, tell the girl about your great car/house/job or spend your evening having dinner to “get to know each other”.

  40. I think what Clinton was saying, and how was at least as important as the body language.

    To put it simply, he used a compassionate tone of voice to match what he was saying, and he -directly- mirrored her points of concern in his response. She put a lot of emphasis on on her empathy for other people being affected by the national debt, and I don’t think he could have done any better than to emphasize the same.

  41. Great post. It is so obvious from this video how important this topic is and that Clinton is a master at communication and eye contact.

  42. hey Tim,

    I have a quick question for you about the geek to freak experiment.

    I looked at the page about it, and you say you used all kinds of supplements. How necessary do you think they are? I play tennis a lot but i am not muscular at all, is it still possible to start this program without having any experience with fitness?


    1. One more question for you

      Should i follow everything they say in the colorado experiment article? Like focussing a lot on negative contraction (how does that work exactly) Or just perform every excercise 5/5 and one set until your muscle fails and thats all i have to take out of the article?

      Sorry im not a native english speaker, and i didnt understand everything in the article of the colorado experiment

  43. I was in a small area at a hotel in DC once when Clinton walked by a group of us, turned, looked and smiled at all of us. We all spontaneously applauded and he smiled. It seems like a small thing, but I felt that all ~10 of us really connected with him, and wondered if that was just the aura of the presidency or of Clinton in general. I’ve thought about that moment numerous times before and always come to the same conclusion…that I couldn’t imagine that happening if it had been Bush in that room (although maybe Obama at the beginning of his presidency).

  44. Love the post from Josh about the Seinfeld Episode:

    Tim, you may get a laugh out of this – When I read step 2 above, all I could think about at first was the Seinfeld “Close Talker” episode 🙂

  45. Also I notice that while Clinton is speaking the only time he glances away from the voter is when he takes a brief moment to close his eyes, as if he is looking ‘within’ for the answer to come. Bush was glancing all about the room as if the answer might come from outside somewhere. What really conveyed presence and sincerity to me was Clinton gesturing frequently with both his hands, literally tapping his chest, clearly he was touching his own heart to convey the depth of his ‘feeling’ and understanding, thereby touching the heart of the woman. Yes, he completely had the voter, and me! If we all practiced this kind of presence and connection with everyone, even strangers we would feel a wave of compassion and understanding so huge that all prejudices would fall away and peace would transform us. IF we practiced and with good intent.

  46. Notice also how pretty much everything Clinton says is grouped into threes:

    – The three ways it’s affected him (Congress signing laws etc.)

    – (within it that) The three different ways he knows people who are affected

    – Three ways it has affected people he has met (lost jobs etc.)

    – Three other reasons why things have gone wrong (not investing in people)

    – Three effects of the failed economic theory

    – The three things that need to be done to fix the problem

    That’s also a master of grouping information and communicating that info there!

    1. Good catch! That’s one of the things Steve Jobs has mastered as well. He always presents just 3 features or 3 benefits, etc.

  47. The best blog post I have read in the last months!!!

    I watched the video a lot of times and find it fascinating. The video commentary is great too.

    I will be studying Clinton’s behavior closely 🙂

  48. I would like to add that Clinton’s RDF that led to his success also was the cause of his demise. When he looked into the eyes of every American with ‘that look’ and lied (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”), we could no longer trust the sincerity of that look. I have no political slant or judgment as to that incident, but just want to make the point that there must be truth or sincerity behind one’s RDF.

  49. Great post. Watching the clip with the audio off, I noticed how often Bush made pointing and finger-shaking gestures toward the questioner. Clinton also uses “politician” gestures, but seems favor palms toward his own body. When he does point and jab, he does so at the floor.

  50. Thanks for the post! I just bought the book (although I probably didn’t need to I could just work on those 3 tasks and get pretty good). Thanks again!

  51. I think it was Keith Ferrazzi who pointed out a couple of other little things in Never Eat Alone. Stuff like the two handed shake when you shake hands with the right hand but then cover the hand with your left. Little things like that show you care and are doing something “extra” in getting to know that person. Other things like using the person’s name (people love hearing their name, it means you care about them) and so on also make a difference.

    Either way, great guest post Tim. I love posts like this. They talk about an interesting topic, they make sense and then they realistic applicable tips and advice on how to apply this knowledge to every day life (which, by the way, is one of the reasons I like the 4HWW).


  52. Great article and demonstration on the power of eye contact, personal space, and presence! Clinton certainly projected an immediate connection with the person asking the (stupidly worded) question.

    I’d like to see further analysis with neuro-linguistic programming brought into the mix. (one of the other commenters noted Perot “echoing” Clinton’s posture, a classic example of one way to use it) Reflecting the way a person relates to the world back at them when communicating is an instant way of developing rapport as well. (Works GREAT in job interviews!)

  53. I thought Bill Clinton actually felt something in regards to the question. Not only felt but felt strongly about it. If he didn’t feel anything then he is really a master actor. Bush on the other hand got defensive quickly. I think he felt personally attacked because his family was obviously NOT touched by any economic downturn. He really had no answer for the question. Wasn’t there a famous incident in a supermarket involving Pres. Bush? Something that showed him to be completely out of touch with common people’s problems.

    Thanks for the interesting blog!

  54. One of the best posts recently. I was a bit uncomfortable trying this out based on the one page description in Tim’s book. But the post gives more tips on how to do it without getting your ass kicked too often. Nice.

    BTW whatever happened to the 2 other previous posts – one on the 4HB ad design contest and one featuring Taryn Southern? They are still there in my Google Reader, but have disappeared from the blog?

    1. Hey Ritesh,

      Nope, the last two posts are still there! Just redated so new visitors see content instead of promotion. Once my core readers see that type of post, I redate it, usually. The links remain, and you’ll find it on Google, but it doesn’t show up on the homepage.


      1. Hi Tony,

        That’s really odd. How would you suggest I edit the permalinks to avoid this issue? The first time I’ve seen it.



      2. It’s pretty simple. Before making those type of posts, go to Settings > Permalinks > Custom Structure: /%postname%/. Create and publish the post. Edit the post date. Then put your permalink settings back to how they were. Since the URL will only be the post name, changing the publish date won’t affect it.

        Glad I could help!


  55. When you make eye contact with someone or you look at someone’s face, you activate a part of your brain called the amygdala. First, the picture of the face goes to the right side of the brain and then it goes to the left side. What your brain is doing is deciding if the person you are looking at is safe or not. The right side of the brain is wired for withdraw behaviors, it is also wired for personal space. The left side is wired for approach behaviors. So, if you feel like you don’t trust a person you will also feel like they are invading your personal space. This is hard wired into our brains. Here is a link explaining it in infants

    It is a little more complicated than this, but this gives you the idea.

  56. When you make eye contact with someone or you look at someone’s face, you activate a part of your brain called the amygdala. First, the picture of the face goes to the right side of the brain and then it goes to the left side. What your brain is doing is deciding if the person you are looking at is safe or not. The right side of the brain is wired for withdraw behaviors, it is also wired for personal space. The left side is wired for approach behaviors. So, if you feel like you don’t trust a person you will also feel like they are invading your personal space. This is hard wired into our brains. Here is a link explaining it in infants

    It is a little more complicated than this, but you get the idea.

  57. First article I’ve read here and I am very amazed!

    I always ‘used’ to make a lot of eye contact, but I have shied away from it since I’ve moved to a bigger city (bums and crazies yelling). I have even noticed being shy in personal relationships with friends and family, and I keep asking myself what’s missing. Well, eye contact!

    I will be definitely be trying the stranger-stare-for-a-second approach this week and the weeks to follow! Thanks!

    A side note on the video, besides Bush being absentminded, he uses his fingers to point (almost in an attacking way), while Clinton holds his fingers in a gentle fist.

  58. Great post, thanks Tim and Michael. I bought the Kindle book, lots of good stuff in it!

    I loved the way Clinton walks right toward the questioner and creates the connection almost instantly. And then, no matter what he was saying, he maintained a steady calm gaze toward her. The brilliant part is that he was pretty much manipulating her and the whole audience by saying generalities that anyone can agree with (which got her nodding), while doing all this in a very natural and warm way.

    Yeah, Bush was very surprised that that highly content free answer could get such a positive reaction!

  59. Fascinating. With the sound off, Bush’s body language makes him appear annoyed and dismissive while Clinton appears to be giving a pep talk to his team at half-time. Clinton also had the benefit of extra time to think so even though the question itself was confusing his language and demeanor didn’t make the woman seem stupid. Quick reactions give away more than we realize, another good argument for stopping to think before you open your mouth.

  60. Tim, Great article. Thank You.

    I had personally experienced President Clinton’s RDF along with my wife. It was a brief encounter in a hotel lobby after his presidency. He was returning from a golf outing, I believe. He just happened to notice a hesitant wave from my wife and returned to say hello.

    As you pointed out, in a crowded hotel lobby, surrounded by secret service and aides and on lookers, he put you at ease. Made you feel personally connected in an instant.

    Now I know how he manage that in a few seconds!


  61. Fun read. I enjoyed the Seinfeld plug, and I too instantly referenced to another entertaining video.

    I found out about pickup artist/vh1 reality star Mystery through Niel Strauss’ book The Game and have enjoyed hearing about his interpretations of both body language and social interaction. Not a presidential candidate, but an emffective communicator in non the less

    Would be great to see an author super team collaboration with the likes of Tim, Niel, Michael…etc

  62. Fun read. I enjoyed the Seinfeld plug, and I too instantly referenced to another entertaining video.

    I found out about pickup artist/vh1 reality star Mystery through Niel Strauss’ book The Game and have enjoyed hearing about his interpretations of both body language and social interaction. Not a presidential candidate, but an emffective communicator in non the less

    Would be great to see an author super team collaboration with the likes of Tim, Niel, Michael…etc

    1. @George: I too thought of this instantly today when I was watching this.

      Clinton, along with many other masters of communication, is a great person to learn from when it comes to the reality distortion field and gaining initial social acceptance with a new group.

      However, Clinton also uses two subtle, but POWERFUL and highly effective tactics in this video to get the subject on board (and ultimately her reaction at 3:22, shaking her head, yes…uh huh.. I agree..I am now mesmorized and will continue to agree as long as you don’t throw a a crazy loop in the mix).

      The first of these was to ask her the question: “Tell me again how you are affected by this….”. Translation: I care about your question, I’m present, and I’m going to answer directly to you. We are having a conversation, just me and you. This instantly gets her attention and starts off in the right direction. Ultimately this disarms her and agrees with his unwavering eye-contact, allowing him to walk towards her comfortably.

      The second tactic is used right before her response at 3:22 and is the tipping point to get her to start shaking her head in accordance. Its his use of vague relation to her: “…with people like you all over America: people that have lose their jobs, lost their…insert negative consequence of a depression”. She asked this question, obviously she has been affected by the depression. And he can use those vague classifications to create a relation with her and anyone else that was watching that was affected by the depression (aka everyone). Now she’s on board and will agree as long as he doesn’t jump to an extreme.

      Bush failed to do the second because he didn’t relate. He tried talking about “what he read”.

      As always a great “evergreen” post that pushes me to think and challenge myself. Thank you.

  63. I’ve tried several of the tips posted here in the past since they are readily available from other sources writing on body language or charisma. Seemed to have little or no effect.

    I could also probably play the same notes on a violin as Joshua Bell but it would be a completely different piece. Some people (like Clinton) have a real gift and they’ve worked to make it even better.

    For most of us, we don’t have that intangible “gift” and all the practicing in the world won’t truly make a difference.

    I’ve also wondered whether my lack of response was due to the fact that I wear glasses

    1. @Weston-

      It could be a number of variables why you had little or no effect. Other people can subconsciously detect when they are getting “moves” played on them. (subtle body language, like how someone smiles, but their eyes aren’t, etc.) I’ve found it best that you need to “buy” into exactly what you are saying and doing just as much or people will subconsciously feel like something is missing even if they don’t consciously know why. If you are trying to convey compassion or empathy, you actually need to FEEL that compassion or empathy yourself as you speak otherwise you’ll subconsciously give incongruent body language or tones, etc. even when you are trying to do it intentionally.

  64. Someone else who had that same magic – up close and on the stage – was the late Mark Hughes, President and CEO of Herbalife before his early death. When he came into a meeting he was almost mobbed by the distributors, but he was still able to make a connection with everyone in the room. If you were one of those who managed to shake his hand while he was being jostled, he looked directly into your eyes, squeezed your hand and said “Thank you” with a REAL smile that reached his eyes – and for those seconds, you were the only person in the room with him. He had a magical presence; it was really impossible NOT to like him once you’d met him. He had the same effect on men as well 🙂

  65. The last couple of years I’ve been working on increasing my interpersonal communication skills. I have read plenty of books in selling and seduction and have tested many of the ideas I’ve read about. Even though i have a degree I took a job in retail so that i can work with people, test and build my communication skills. I am still a work in progress but a few things that I have found out through trial and error is that:

    -When building attraction with women I do not have to be witty, funny or cleaver in my conversation as long as I speak to a girl as if she is the only person in the room, that is enough to make her attracted to me. … just having deep presence is enough.

    -When speaking with a stranger I make most of the conversations “statements” and reduce the number of “questions” I ask. Friends speak is statements, interviewers and interrogators speak in questions. Statements make strangers more at ease and a better conversations and connection with the stranger ensues. Example if a stranger says ” i have to start going to the gym” instead of responding “why” or “what gym” I will say something like “you know i started a great workout program” or ” I love doing circuit training”. I find that conversations with statements are more fulfilling, smoother and last longer. I think it is total B.S. when people say ask a lot of questions when you want to get to know someone, I find questions are unnatural, forced and needy.

    Also moving a little bit slower puts people at ease, if i walk and talk a little slower it puts people at ease. Look at Clinton mannerisms he moves and talks just a little slower, people find something charming about moving and speaking slower…. I find that moving and speaking a little slower is key to being present.

    Thanks, John H

  66. Hey, Tim.

    What’s the story with the stickers, pal ?

    I am waiting for mine!!!

    You can’t announce a giveaway and then, all of a sudden, take down the post and say nothing to your readers.

    I am still your fan but I’d love to know what happened.

    Thanx a million

    1. Hey, Theo! It’s still going on! I just moved it by redating it. I do that often with promotions like that, as they make no real sense to new visitors, and add less value to them than content.

      New sticker being announced today 🙂



  67. You know, I always wondered what the “Clinton” effect was.

    I detested the man’s policies, but every time I would watch him on TV, I would like what he was saying. Then, when I would read the transcript, I would hate what he had said. Watching the video with the sound off made it abundantly clear. Bush Sr. was answering the question and Bill Clinton was talking to the person. It didn’t really matter what he said… if it was on point or clear or even made sense or if he was lying. He was talking to “me”! And the “me” inside of me loved it.

  68. Its amazing that after reading this article and then watching the video. You feel like clinton is only talking to you. He really knows how to pull in the audience. Both at the studio and tv audience.


  69. You can see how much daddy Bush enjoys Clintons performance, he reminds me of the emperor beaming with pride and happiness as Anakin kills all the young Jedi. Clinton did the free trade deal and let them bring in dope through Arkansas airstrips for Daddy B back in the day ya no.

  70. Aside from the body language and the actual content of the answer, Bush was combative and indirectly criticized the questioner. Not a good way to go.

  71. Hi Michael and Tim, AWESOME POST!!

    I have to say that I too have heard a story exactly like the one described above from my professor. Women doesn’t like Clinton beforehand but when he meets her, she becomes swooned by him.

    Also Tim, these kinds of posts are my favorite (improving and hacking personal and communication skills, so I would like to see more of them. I think something that was another big factor of this interaction (and all interactions in general) is vocal tonality. Which is REALLY important. I would love to see some posts on this. I think this post is absolutely great though, so thank you Michael. I will check out your book for sure.

  72. Tim, I like your blog, your books and your person overall. The very reason I keep coming back here is you. Sounds creepy, I understand, although not intended. I too understand everlasting content and all that money thing. Fine. I just wanted to say I’d be happy to read more you less guests, please, if possible.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thank you and point taken. I’ll have much more coming soon from me. I’ll still experiment with guest posts (one great one coming), but I’ll have more content soon.

      All the best,


  73. Fantastic post. These are the reasons I left my technical job for a sales job early on. We were taught to focus on these exact things and more. And they have easily been the most important skills I have ever learned.

    I also sent an email to Michael as I am a college drop out 🙂

  74. Regarding personal space and contact; read up on the “mere exposure effect.” Generally contact with those we like makes us like them more, while proximity to those we do not like, makes us like them less.

  75. Eye contact rules! Clinton did have the advantage of time and watching Bush squirm as he tried to answer a fixed question. Clinton had the luxury of thinking out what his own answer might be and how he could best connect with her.

    That said, his brilliance came when he not only used eye contact, but he opened with a confirming question to the woman and then carried on in a borderline casual conversation. The two could have been transported to a coffee shop and his tone would’ve been the same! Except for the fact that, and here was his real brilliance, he knew everybody else in the room, tv, etc was also listening.

    Thanks for sharing Tim and Michael.

    BTW – Tim, your sweetheart’s out there.

    I know you already know this but it seems love is the one thing you can’t outsource to your peeps in India. 🙂


  76. I studied body language and voice tone for about 3 years through the pick up artist field and the Venusian Arts it always fascinated me and here is something i think may be of some value that i kind of came up with on my own that really took me to the level of mastery

    stare at yourself in the mirror look at your left eye and meditate and focus on “relief” and just release the tension in your body and eye muscles then do the same with your other eye and imagine like you have a warm sun in your solar plex and the light is escaping your body through your eyes and that you don’t have to try they force their way out and your are allowing them to do the same with the other eye

    once you get use to this do as experiment of this by looking at, for me the hottest women on the planet and get to that same level of relief you feel when you are looking at yourself in the mirror then do this with a girl but be warned chemistry will fly because it can be very powerful

    finally when you walk down the street kind on lean your head low and then lift one brow in a relaxed effortless motion slowly and glance up at her, and let the light hit her through your eyes and only focus on her left eye (connects to left brain which is the emotional one) so when you are looking at her, her right side and then let a smile of warmth ripple through your face but show no teeth and then blink slowly exaggerating the tempo of the blink to a whole second to a second and a half and reopen your eye lids slowly and look past her, practice this and well you will see how women completely loose their cool and have to tense and look down or away or will open and smile and vibe with you, if you see the second say hello and pause and lean back thats all i will say for now lol

    women can be seduced with just body language and voice tone what you say is only 7% of communication the body language and voice tone is the other 93%

    your voice should resonate from that same place of that sun where your light resonates from without that sun glowing this doesn’t work and it would take too long to explain it but George Cloony and Johnny Depp are great examples, yes they have variations in their style but the elements i mentioned are the same

    Tim just bought the hardcover of ur book the expanded and updated about to launch my business and trying to get in touch with the Dodocase creators for mentor ship, just flew from NY to Toronto and not SF bayara is where i plan to stay and launch this thing, if you have any tims on reaching them it would help because emails haven’t been answered and i don’t know where they are physically located in SF

    can’t wait to check out the stuff u have been working on, on ur new book

  77. @Tim, @Michael

    Thanks a million for this post, I’m already putting this to action by planting the seeds for the first official eye-gazing party (that I know of) here in Beijing, China. Fellow Tim&Michael-Lovers, please do let me know if you live in my awesome city and would be interested in participating! You can reach me at “hsukangli ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com”. Happy eye-gazing, everybody.


    1. @Fatbuddha– That’s GREAT that you’re going to do an Eye Gazing Party in Beijing! Yes, I’m quite sure it would be the first in mainland China. Please do keep me posted (including photos if possible) and I’ll post everything on my Eye Gazing Parties site. I wish you the best for this, and do let me know how it goes!

      1. @Michael,

        Thanks so much for your feedback! Am planning one towards the end of the year, will keep you posted!

  78. I like the article, and will offer an opinion that draws a few distinctions that may bring additional perspective…or not… The distinctions are based on my opinions and are certainly open for debate.

    In my view, Clinton’s an Enneagram 3/2 and most 3wing2’s of average psychological health instinctively do what is described in this article. Clinton doesn’t consciously use any of his skills as “techniques” any more than a great soccer player thinks of techniques when he deftly works a ball down the field. The soccer player knows his overall goal, and his inherent talent, practiced skills, and wiring take over the rest.

    It is similar with Clinton, who sees his mark, and then feels his way through the next steps, skillfully calling on years of practice using inherent affinities honed by his driven addiction to adoration, combined with a subconscious fear of failure.

    Personality types like Clinton start mirroring others and engaging in chameleon-like behaviors (in order to win others over) from an early age. By the time they are in their twenties, most know how to woo just about anyone, or talk their way out of trouble… but the downside is that they are usually quite disconnected from who they are to themselves. LOL.

    Those among us (many) who suffer from low-self value will subconsciously respond to “Clintonesque” maneuverings with pleasure, since the subliminal message is: “If he/she is trying to win me over, I am therefore worth something.”

    Those among us who have high self-worth see through Clintonoids, and will react with politeness, but will not fully connect, or may use the manipulative attempts of the seducer towards mutual benefit.

    This is not to say that *healthy * 3/2s aren’t incredibly authentic (Clinton is *average* IMHO), or that Clinton himself doesn’t have authentic moments. Also, those who bend the truth have to know it first, so folks like Clinton are quite genuinely affecting when they connect with their truth for real.

    In the end, studying Clinton may bring some good insights, but I recommend that a person combine this with learning more about their own communication style, and that of others, and then look for a genuine reason to get interested in, and stay present to, those they are wanting to reach and be reached by. 🙂

  79. Good advice. The next time I need to get some “special” attention from an unpaid intern, I will be sure to put these “techniques” into practice.

  80. Look over Clinton’s shoulder right at the very end of the video and the look on Bush’s face says, “I wonder if he’ll ask me to prom…”

    Every time I read a post on this blog I learn something that I can apply right that very instant. Thanks for the great post.

  81. This is a wonderful post! I’ve always thought proximity was the only thing that determines whether you have invaded one’s personal space.

    I have no problems making eye contact with strangers, the only problems I have is making conversation with them after the eye contact and the smile. I am not sure if coming from an asia background is the issue but making small talk is like a huge wall for me.

    I wonder what would most do after talking about the neutral stuff, when do we go from neutral if we want to leave a lasting impression and not freak the person out with personal questions.

  82. Great post! It takes me back to the section in Tim’s book regarding eye contact where he suggests focussing on one eye. It’s little tips like this from Tim that have made my interpersonal skills so much better! Thanks Tim! PS. I’m looking forward to new book also!

  83. Eye contact in some societies can be regarded as rude – especially when dealing with `superiors`. Another example of the Americanisation of the world?

  84. Great video to illustrate your point! Guess there are a lot of things we subconsciously do that affects so much of our life, yet we don’t know about many of them. Good to have someone remind us of how important body language really is.


  85. Here is an interesting question.

    Do you think Bill Clinton was coached or self-taught in the in “Reality Distortion Field” (persuasion) arts.? I’m leaning towards that he was coached. We can safely assume he had a lot of practice as well. 🙂

    In my opinion, words such as “persuasion”, “influence”, and “charisma” are often blown out of proportion. The main reason is because these are qualities that one would never use to describe oneself, but often used to describe someone else. Bill Clinton will never say “I’m charming.”, but it would be someone else describing him that way. (Personally, I never thought Bill Clinton to be charming. But to each their own.)

    All in all, I believe it is a matter of self-manufactured perception. If you pick up a book on the topic “persuasion”, “influence”, or “charisma” you will find that it is full of gambits or “tricks” of how to be perceived as “persuasive”, “influential” or “charismatic”. Some take advantage of our animalistic nature (ie. personal space, body movement, eye contact), others take advantage of our intellect. (ie. conversation, wording) As humans, we have a uncontrollable need to put something or someone on a pedestal and revere it. This need is so powerful that we tend to imbue the person or thing with imaginary qualities. We also have the innate urge to gossip about these imaginary qualities and convince others to agree with you, many times without rationally thinking it through. Indeed such words as “persuasion”, “influence”, and “charisma” have sunk to a level where they are topics of irrelevant gossip in the business world. (sad but true) So, I personally tend to be more careful before attributing such qualities to a person or thing.

    On a side note, I think Tim Ferriss and his book “4 hour work week” is totally awesome. 🙂 Go, Long Island! Can’t wait to see what the “4-hour-body” is going to be like. Still can’t believe I am flying out on Dec12th, JUST BEFORE YOUR LAUNCH PARTY! Excuse me, as I pull out my hair. 😛

  86. Hey Tim, you need to change the background-color behind the text on your blog to white…if images are turned off your blog will be totally unreadable with the black text on black background.

  87. I met Clinton right after the Lewinsky scandal…I was a young 20 something Legislative Assistant who’d just been involved in crafting a bill that became a law and went to a bill signing at the White House…I had mentally prepared myself to hate him, not be near him, avoid him at all cause…within seconds of him entering the room I thought he was speaking only to me…once meeting him I too was like Gillian Anderson and figured he’d get my email and send me a message the next day. Note: Hillary was there as well (a rare occurrence). Captivating to say the least. One can learn a lot from studying him and if you are lucky enough to meet him you will easily be taken into his “jedi-enabled sphere of wowdom.”

  88. Just wanted to agree that this is an excellent post. I also wanted to thank the other commenters. I learned a great deal from your insights as well.

    Best to all,


  89. Kind of reminds me of Ronnie James Dio when he was alive. I once went to one of his concerts in NYC and he was the only frontman I have ever seen that could look at people in the eye while singing. He could point at different people in the audience and look at them like if they were the only ones there.

  90. Tim and other practitioners,

    I’ve been a long time practitioner of state awareness, opening my chakras, feeling connected to others, eye contact, and meditation.

    I feel what Clinton does can be practiced. I train myself to stay open, focus, and in a loving presence during my daily meditation. A few months ago I made a short video about how I meditate. I go over opening the channels of my body, expanding my awareness, and playing with my energetic field.

    If anyone is into this topic, I’m sure you’ll relate to my video. Just thought I’d share because it’s totally relevant. I linked directly to it.



  91. There’s one thing that I find funny about Clinton’s uncanny ability here: there wasn’t enough of this during his presidency! He became a bigger hit AFTER he left the white house. Amazing. BTW Tim, do you personally vouch for this method working for you?