The Art of Mingling, Third Edition: Fun and Proven Techniques for Mastering Any Room

The Art of Mingling, Third Edition: Fun and Proven Techniques for Mastering Any Room

by Jeanne Martinet

Paperback(Third Edition, Revised)

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Fully revised and updated with 50% new material!

With Jeanne Martinet's trademark wit and practicality, The Art of Mingling hands you the keys to feeling at ease in any social situation

Does the idea of going to a large party make your mouth go dry? Are you more comfortable on Facebook than face-to-face? You're not alone: Ninety percent of the world suffers from minglephobia. Jeanne Martinet has developed a cure, a sure-fire system for overcoming fears and having a great time at any type of business or social gathering. Filled with simple techniques, tricks, tips, lines and maneuvers, and illustrated with entertaining examples, The Art of Mingling teaches you:

* Basic survival strategies for the Truly Terrified

* Opening lines and gambits that really work

* Tools and rules for keeping the conversation going in the right direction

* The all-important etiquette of escape

* Faux pas recovery techniques

* How to avoid the dumb use of smartphones

* The secret to being a good listener

* The right way to follow up online

* and much, much more!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250061768
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/20/2015
Edition description: Third Edition, Revised
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 623,527
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

JEANNE MARTINET is the author of eight books, including The Art of Mingling, which has sold more than 150,000 copies and been published in ten countries. She has been featured in such publications as The New York Times, Salon, The Boston Globe, Glamour and The Washington Post. She has shared her humor and mingling know-how on many TV and radio shows, including "The Today Show," "The CBS Early Show," NPR's "Morning Edition" and WNYC's "The Leonard Lopate Show." She lives, writes and mingles in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

The Art of Mingling

Fun and Proven Techniques for Mastering Any Room

By Jeanne Martinet

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Jeanne Martinet
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8018-4


Overcoming Minglephobia


More and more, I hear this from people: "I don't need to go to parties to mingle. I'm having conversations every day with thousands of people. I mingle all the time. I have a rich and satisfying social life online. Why should I bother going to a party where I'll have less control over who I talk to? I have no interest in mixing it up with a bunch of boring strangers in person."

Listen. I get it. The social networking world is vast and dynamic and ultra-accessible. Why take the trouble to get dressed and go to a holiday party across town when you have movies or video games to stream, texting and tweeting to get to, and Seamless to order in your favorite takeout?

The thing is, twenty-five years ago, long before YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch, introverts were more in touch with their own minglephobia. When they were invited to a party where they would know few or none of the other guests, it was usually at least somewhat enticing to them. They would want to go but would be daunted by the prospect. It was too scary for them. Today, these very same people would profess that social networking is all the socializing they need, and that the Internet is a "great place to mingle."

Ahem. Let me make one thing perfectly clear to all you Digital Natives out there: IM-ing is not mingling. Emailing is not mingling; texting is not mingling; video chatting is not mingling; posting on Facebook and Twitter is not mingling. Mingling has not changed since the beginning of time: It's real people gathered in a real space together, conversing face to face (or, given the functionality of Facetime and Skype, perhaps I should say flesh to flesh). Socializing online is to real mingling what playing a Wii ski game is to actual skiing; the latter takes more effort and is riskier, sure, but so much more healthy, exhilarating, and rewarding. For one thing, at a real gathering there is a physical energy exchange between people. These subtleties of facial expression and body language are lost in cyberspace, as is the touch of someone's hand, or the shared experience of hearing the sound of laughter across the room.

Human beings crave connecting to other human beings the way they crave water or food. And as information technology pervades every aspect of our lives, we have more methods of communicating than we ever imagined possible. We can set up a webcam in our living rooms and millions of strangers can see us. We can trade messages instantly with people on the other side of the world. We can find the answer to just about anything at the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen. Who knows, someday we might be able to download hologram friends or use memory chips in our heads to communicate telepathically. But it still won't be "mingling" unless our corporeal bodies are in the same time/space continuum.

More and more, we find ourselves unwilling to make the commitment to talk to a real person who is right in front of us. I used to love talking to cabdrivers in New York City; I would learn something about their lives, and vice versa. Now every one of them is on his cell phone. And so guess what? So am I. I am not a Luddite. I am, in fact, addicted to my iPhone. For one thing, it helps me locate the party! And there is no question the Internet can be helpful for finding people with whom to mingle, and places in which to mingle.

The point is that before you can begin to cure a disease, you have to be aware you actually have one. A lot of people who are online all the time have minglephobia and don't even know it. If you have a friend or a family member who you believe is using texting, Facebook, Instagram, Gchat, and Twitter as a cover for his minglephobia, drag him to a cocktail party or an event at your local bar!


Okay. There you are, standing by yourself, frozen against the wall in a room full of people. You've just arrived, and you've already done the two things that made you look busy: taken off your coat and said hello to your host or hostess, who has long since dashed off to greet another guest or check on the ice supply. What now?

Number one (and numbers two and three): Don't panic. You are not the only person feeling this way. Many people descend into a state of almost existential angst when faced with tough mingling situations. Some people deal with their fears by immediately withdrawing into a dark corner, where they take out their cell phones and pretend to be engrossed in urgent communications. Some react by giggling when nothing is funny; some play with their hair or fiddle compulsively with their clothing. In fact, minglephobia can cause people to drink too much, eat too much, smoke too much, or — and this can really be dangerous — even dance too much! So it's important not to give in to your fears, especially in those first few crucial moments. Just try to relax and say to yourself, "I'm going to fake it till I make it."

Believe it or not, this simple affirmation is an effective, almost magical, way to transform party terror into a positive outlook. Remember when you were little and you and your friends told ghost stories to scare yourselves, and by the end of the night, you really did believe in ghosts? It was remarkably easy to fool yourself when you were a child, and it's just as easy to fool yourself as an adult. Just pretend to be happy to be wherever you are; make believe you are confident; simulate self-assurance — even for ten minutes — and an amazing thing will start to happen: You'll actually begin to feel that way, partially because of the response you receive from other people.

Many books have been written promoting the benefits of having a positive attitude — that it can attract people and other things you want in life. The question is, how do you muster that attitude when you are feeling intimidated and uncertain — and maybe more than a little scared? Let's face it. Very few people want to talk to someone who is showing outward signs of fear or depression (unless it's a party filled with out-of-work psychotherapists). So even though you will probably have at least some trepidation when approaching people you know little or not at all, you must practice putting it aside. Just as if you had to walk out on a stage. Deep breath. Curtain up. Before you know it, you'll discover you're no longer faking it; you'll find your fears have disappeared and you are actually having a good time!

Fake It Till You Make It is an attitude aid rather than a specific technique, but it's important to remember it as you begin to mingle, because it is the basis of all the opening gambits and entry lines. And of course I'm not asking you to "fake it" forever. Being totally phony is never a good idea. But your mind-set as you enter the fray is extremely important. For the first few minutes of a difficult mingling experience, what you project is more important than what you may be feeling.


Sometimes the Fake It Till You Make It mantra isn't enough when you are faced with a room full of Serious Terror Inducers. Serious Terror Inducers are usually defined as people with whom you feel you have very little in common. The scariest groups for me are investment bankers, people at East Hampton art gallery openings, and the ladies' bridge club in Peoria, Illinois. But whether your own worst mingling nightmare is a singles' soiree, your company picnic, a high-pressure business affair, or just a neighborhood holiday cocktail party, the following survival fantasies can be lifesavers. They are for those times when you can hardly breathe, when you can't remember your name or the name of the person who invited you — or when you suddenly have no idea why you were even invited and suspect that someone's secretary must have made a horrible mistake in adding you to the guest list.

The need for this kind of psychological armor varies greatly, of course, with each individual and situation. Extraordinarily shy people or people who haven't been out of the house for two months may use the survival fantasies regularly. Some people (like me) find them to be so much fun that they use them occasionally for the pure kick they get out of them. But in any case, they can provide you with an instant shot of social confidence, enough to allow you to approach a group of intimidating strangers. All you need to make them work is a little imagination.

The Naked Room

Suppose you have just arrived at a large party. As you enter the room, you realize that (1) you don't know a soul there; (2) everyone is talking animatedly; and (3) the second you walked in, you lost every ounce of self-assurance you ever had.

Try this: Just for a moment, imagine that everyone in the room — except for you, of course — is wearing nothing but their underclothes (preferably plain or even raggedy in style; a Victoria Secret fantasy will not have the desired effect) and shoes. There are variations, naturally, according to what you think makes people look the most ridiculous and powerless; some people prefer to visualize them in only socks, ties, and jewelry; in their pajamas; dressed as clowns; or even completely naked. You can try to imagine them all as four-year-olds. But whatever version works for you, the Naked Room fantasy can be an easy way to turn the tables when you're feeling vulnerable or exposed and is an excellent place to start to build your initial party confidence. In fact, strangers may be drawn to you by the amused smile on your face.

The Invisible Man

This fantasy is based on a very simple truth, something my mother used to tell me all the time: Nobody is looking at you. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves. While this may not be 100 percent true, it is mostly true. The Invisible Man fantasy merely capitalizes on this basic fact, but takes it one step further. Ready? You're just not there. You don't exist. Do you think someone's looking at you, wondering snidely why no one is talking to you? You're wrong; they're looking right through you. They're looking at the food table, at the wall, at another guest. If you have ever seen the classic 1933 film The Invisible Man, there is a moment when Claude Rains takes off his bandages and is totally transparent. What power he has! How he laughs! Just like Harry Potter when he dons his invisibility cloak and is invincible. Now, "invisible" as you are, you are free to unselfconsciously walk around the room, looking at everyone, looking at the furniture, the paintings — the whole scene — with total relaxation. This gives you time to catch your breath, psychologically, until you feel ready to become visible again and enter the conversational clique of your choice. (Warning: The true introvert may want to be careful with this one; you don't want to stay invisible for too long. Reappearance is an absolute must.)

The Buddy System

Remember in elementary school when you went on field trips and your teacher made you line up with a partner so that no one would get lost? In my school, they called this the Buddy System. Well, here you are now, feeling psychologically "lost" in this room full of intimidating strangers. How can you possibly get up the nerve to speak to anyone?

Easy. You and your "best buddy" will go together. Tell yourself that just behind you, over your right shoulder, your very best friend in the whole world is moving with you through the room, listening to everything you say. Voilà: instant calm. After all, your friend loves you, right? Understands you? And probably will have a lot of the same opinions of the people you meet as you do. When you talk, you will be able to imagine this friend smiling at everything you say, offering encouragement and approval. If by chance you are snubbed by someone, you'll hear your friend whisper in your ear, "What an ass! Don't let it get to you; he's obviously really insecure. His loss!"

Of course, you mustn't get carried away and actually speak to your imaginary friend (at least, not so anyone can notice).

Celebrity Magic

This technique is kind of the Invisible Man fantasy in reverse. It may seem drastic to some readers, but I find it so effective, as well as so much fun, that I highly recommend it, especially for the more adventuresome. Don't forget, these fantasy techniques are specifically designed for initial courage — to get you to take that first step, to transform you from a guest with an inferiority complex into a participating, mingling member of the party. So try this: Be someone else, just for a little while. This might seem a bit radical, especially since other people have probably been telling you for decades to "be yourself," but if you're standing there at the party, terrified, halfway wishing you were somebody else anyway, then why not just do it? The person that you are is giving you a lot of trouble right now, and is obviously not the least bit happy about where it is. So pick a favorite celebrity, someone whose poise, posture, or personality you particularly admire, and then ... slip into him or her. When done right, this technique works much faster than the other survival fantasies because of the mingling power most people attribute to stars — power that instantly becomes accessible to you.

I used to become Bette Davis, especially when faced with really tough rooms or if I were just feeling insecure for some reason. I would visualize her in one of her movie roles, like Margo Channing in All About Eve, and pretty soon I would sense my eyebrows going up slightly and my body relaxing as I surveyed the social battlefield with a truly languid amusement. As Bette Davis (or, more specifically, Davis in the role of Margo), I would not just be ready to mingle, I'd be positively hungry for it. No one, by the way, ever looked over at me and said, "Look at that weird woman pretending to be Bette Davis!" because no one, of course, ever noticed the difference. They merely saw a confident, perhaps even interesting, woman. Likewise, no one will be able to tell what you are doing when you use this technique. After all, that's why these are called "fantasies" — they're secret. Also, you don't have to use a celebrity. You can, if you want, pretend to be someone you know in real life, someone who is never ill at ease (or, more likely, who never seems to be ill at ease — they probably feel the same as you do inside, of course). The only guideline is that you must choose someone you know pretty well; the better you know this person, the easier it is to assume his or her persona.

Some useful celebrities for women: Lena Dunham, Amy Adams, Grace Kelly, Heidi Klum, Nicole Kidman, Lucy Liu, Natalie Portman, Katie Couric, Bette Davis, Angelina Jolie, Goldie Hawn, Katharine Hepburn, Scarlett Johansson, Vivien Leigh (as Scarlett, of course), Marilyn Monroe, Julia Roberts, Diane Sawyer, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Emma Stone. For men: Antonio Banderas, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Jamie Foxx, Cary Grant, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, David Niven, David Sedaris, Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Jon Stewart, Denzel Washington, and Anderson Cooper. Please note: It's best not to use people who are charismatic but may actually be frightening (like Christopher Walken or Ann Coulter).

* * *

Each of these survival fantasies will take some practice, particularly if you've never tried anything like this before. But believe me, they can help you, especially if you are a person who tends to freeze, to one degree or another, at the very beginning of a difficult mingling experience. You may also develop your own personalized survival fantasy, one that works better for you than any of the ones I have outlined, and that's fine, of course.

Now, bolstered by the survival fantasy of your choice, you are ready to enter the ring, to approach a person or persons — to get to the actual "meat" of mingling.


As in any game or art, deciding where to begin is very important. Every party, every large gathering, has its bright lights, its superstar mingle circles, its personality power points. Should you forge ahead and go right for the loudest, laughingest, most powerful enclave of people in the room?

Absolutely not! Not unless you consider yourself in the intermediate to advanced level in the art of mingling. After all, you've just gone through at least one survival fantasy to get you this far; you don't want to blow it now by getting shot down by the coolest guest at the party. First you need to get in some relatively safe practice.

Practice Your Mingle on a Wallflower

That's right. Scope out the most out-of-place-looking soul in the room. This will vary from party to party; it's all relative. Usually it's a quiet person standing alone, or two people who look a little lost, a little tentative. They may be inappropriately dressed, or at least not completely well put together. Lots of times you can identify this party misfit by his timid expression or shuffling stance, or by the way he appears fascinated by the photographs atop the piano. At any rate, you must think of this first person, or cluster of people (perhaps even several clusters, depending on how much practice you need), as your sketch pad, your scratch paper, your dress rehearsal. The PSAT of your mingling experience.


Excerpted from The Art of Mingling by Jeanne Martinet. Copyright © 2015 Jeanne Martinet. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface to the New Edition xix

Introduction: Why Learn the Art of Mingling? 1

1 Overcoming Minglephobia 7

A Word about World Wide Web-Headedness 7

How to Fake it Till You Make It 9

Four Survival Fantasies for the Truly Terrified 11

The Naked Room 12

The Invisible Man 13

The Buddy System 14

Celebrity Magic 14

Choosing Your First Clique 17

Practice Your Mingle on a Wallflower 17

Judging a Book by Its Cover 18

Body Language Check 19

The Safety of Numbers 20

2 Open Sesame: Making a Successful Entrance 22

Get Ready, Get Set… 22

To Shake or Not to Shake 22

About Your Smile 23

The Philosophy of Fibbing: Why Some lies are Essential 24

The Four Basic Entrance Maneuvers 27

The Honest Approach 27

The Fade-in 28

The Flattery Entrée 29

The Sophistication Test 35

Opening Lines for Every Mood 37

Level 1 Risk-Free 38

Level 2 Playful 39

Level 3 Daring 39

3 Now what? Tools and Rules for Continuing the Conversation 41

Recovering from a Flubbed Opening 42

Career Talk: Yes or No? 45

Ten Tried-and-True Tricks of the Trade 49

A Mnemonic for Those at a Loss for Words 49

The Interview 52

Playing a Game 54

Room with a View 56

Using Clichés 57

About Eye Contact 58

The Dot-Dot-Dot Plot 60

The Echo Chamber 63

The Funny Thing about Humor 64

How to Handle the Joker in Every Deck 65

To Bemoan or Not to Bemoan 66

The Secret of Listening 70

Understanding the Problem 71

Hearing Aides 73

4 The Great Escape: Bailing Out and Moving On 76

When to Move 78

Boredom and Other Discomforts 78

Wrong Fit 79

Saving Face 80

The Case of the Vanishing Group 80

Time's Up! 80

The Etiquette of Escape 81

Knowing Where You're Headed 81

The Five Laws of Survival 82

The Getaway: Twelve Exit Maneuvers 83

The Buffet Bye-Bye and Other Handy Excuses 83

Celling Out 85

The Honest Approach in Reverse 86

The Fade-Out 87

The Changing of the Guard 88

The Smooth Escape 89

Shake and Break 91

The Human Sacrifice 92

The Personal Manager 93

Escape by Mutual Consent 94

The Counterfeit Search 95

The Preemptive Strike: Dodge Ball 96

Emergency Escape Hatches 97

5 Fancy Footwork: Advanced Mingling Techniques 99

Mingling Styles for the Well-Schooled 100

The Quick-Change Artist 100

The PoleVaulter 103

The Playful Plagiarist 104

Trivial Pursuits 106

The Art of Piggybacking 108

The Butterfly Flit 109

Gimmicks for the Confident Mingler 110

A Case of Mistaken Identity 111

The Interruption Eruption 112

The Quotation Device 114

Party Favors: The Helpless Guest Gambit 117

Making the Most of Toasts 118

Sophisticated Body Business 120

The Mysterious Mingle 120

The Touchy-Feely Mingle 121

Fumbling-In 123

The Swivel 124

Conversation Pieces: Using Props 125

Jewelry and Accessories 125

The Dumb Use of Smartphones 129

The Hors d'Oeuvres Maneuver 134

Working the Bar or Food Area 135

Playing Doubles: Team Mingling 138

Preparty Strategy Sessions 139

Conversational Procurement 139

Intraparty Playdates 141

Shepherding 142

Reconnaissance and Rescue 142

The Mating Call 143

6 The Tailor-Made Mingle: Instructions for Specific Circumstances 145

Navigating Current Events 145

The Zeitgeist Heist 147

Pleading Guilty 148

Proving Your Mettle 149

High-Voltage Area! Talking Politics 150

Ahoy Polloi: Mingling in Public Places 155

Mingling Outdoors or in a Crowd 157

That's My Queue: Lines in Line 158

Elevator Mingling 162

The Business of Mingling for Business 165

Name-Tag Tips 166

Business Card Advice 169

Mingling for Love 170

Nonparty Love Venues 171

Romance Copilots 174

Hosting: How to Please Your Guests Every Time 175

Host Phobia 176

The Party Coach 177

The Feng Shui of Hosting 178

7 Handling Difficult Situations 180

Lie or Die 180

Dealing with Faux Pas 181

When You're Dressed Wrong 182

Introductions: A Recurring Nightmare 185

The Anecdotal Antidote: Storytelling as a Healing Technique 188

All-Purpose Faux Pas Recovery Lines 191

The Faux Pas-Moi: The Art of Denial 192

The Faux Pas-cifist 196

Negotiating Tough Rooms 199

The Sardine Can 199

The Thin Room 201

Mingling with Drunks 203

Mingling with the Truly Arrogant 205

How to Crash a Party Without Breaking Anything 207

The Sit-Down Mingle 210

Quick Fixes for Dire Circumstances 213

How to React to Unwelcome Physicalities 213

Handling Insults 214

Cutting Your Losses (or, When to Just Give Up and Go Home) 216

8 The After-Party: Instructions for Following Up 217

How to Follow Up 218

Email or Text 219

Facebook 220

Linkedln 220

Twitter 221

Follow-Up Lines 221

Phonethics: When to Use Your Voice 222

The Power and Glory of the Handwritten Note 223

Great Expectations 224

9 From Insecurity to Enlightenment: The Tao of Mingling 226

Wu Wei: Premingle Meditation 227

The Yin/Yang of Circulating 229

The Art of Yielding: Using the Principles of Tai Chi 230

How to Feel Happy When You Are Left Alone 231

Index 233

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