Wink, Wink

Posted by Joe Lyon on

Wink, Wink

I’ve turned into a winker. How or when, I’m not clear, nor proud. I have a vague recollection of one day feeling pressured to indicate sincerity beyond words, and did it - a wink. I think it may have been one of those long eye closers that was held a half beat longer than usual, and accompanied by the phrase “Gotchya covered.” Then, more recently on a plane, early in the seating process, but after I’m seated, when your groping for seatbelts, personal spaces being violated, arrant touches occur, and then she, 17B, nervously says “sorry, ssssscuse me.” And it was not “SCUUUUUUSE ME!” as in remove your hand off my inner thigh - no seat belt ever, EVER, resides there (just an example). It was a meekly delivered, very sorry “excuse me,” to which I replied, “no bother” with a simultaneous head twitch and a quick wink. I do not know if it was the sincere “gotchya covered” wink or the quick “no bother” wink that was first. Whichever one it was must have been successful, at least that was my perception, because I have been a winker ever since.

I’ve always been very demonstrative when I talk.  Watching me describe my day at the office when I arrive home is no different than watching an interpreter for the hearing impaired. Maybe I have subconsciously added a wink to my jazz hands, in an effort to emulate a conductor in the symphony of non-verbal communication. Communication can be stressful for some people and it is clear I am in this camp. Words, during a conversation, seem to float in a room for me. I have to quickly grab the right word at the right time and deploy them in a logical order to communicate what I want when I want, a complex task for me. Stress can create many sideshow distractions during the communication process.

How did I become aware of this winking, you might ask. Did I get slapped? That would be a fair question, since most of the research around winking as non-verbal communication, as opposed to blinking or other eye movements, is almost exclusively associated with flirtatious behavior. And think about the opportunity for the misinterpretation of a wink, especially if you’re selling a mattress. "Mrs. Smith, you mentioned wanting a queen sized mattress. Is that for you and your partner, or do you sleep alone (WINK).” At that point, Mrs. Smith might interpret the wink as you saying, “If you sleep alone, I can fix that problem AND sell you a new mattress.” In reality, you’re just trying to understand how many people are sleeping in the bed so you know how to adjust your sales technique. But that wink might be the body language that makes Mrs. Smith run to another retailer.

The opportunities for misinterpretation are endless and on the retail floor of a mattress store, bodily harm could ensue, or you could spend a day in a holding cell recounting your days as a Navy Seal, body count slang included, with your new friends. Establishing tough bitch posture ASAP in a holding cell is survival 101, another sales tip for later.

I have since stopped and if you’re a winker in this profession, I recommend you do the same. And just to be clear, touching the inner thigh of a strange woman on a plane and surviving a holding cell in a large city had nothing to do with it.


About Joe

Joe Lyon lives in Missouri with his two kids, one dog, and the perfect wife who keeps it all grounded. He serves as a Group VP of National Accounts for Leggett & Platt’s Bedding Group. Joe enjoys golf as much as frustration allows, and often wishes he’d tried boxing at an earlier age. View all articles by Joe
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