I have a confession to make: I’m always the idiot at the restaurant who ordered the spicy food and drank all my water before my meal arrived.
It’s me. I’m the person sitting there trying her best to eat her meal without anything to drink, sweat pouring down her face. Hoping that the server will swing by soon with something to drink and save me from myself.
And as I do, I often will find myself staring at the server trying to make eye contact, craning my neck forward, doing my best to look like I need something.
I’m not the person to grab another server and ask for help. Or to try to shout at them from across a packed restaurant.
I literally just try to sit there and look helpless. And hope that the intensity of my gaze catches their attention the next time they swing around in my direction.
The last time I did this, my dinner companion laughed and told me that it reminded her of a little something called The Kindly Brontosaurus.
The Kindly Brontosaurus
I did some digging and found many references to the Kindly Brontosaurus online. It’s typically broached as a posture you adopt when you need a favor from a customer service person.
Some people have also referred to it as the “Powerful Supplicant.”
It apparently is made up of the following steps:
- You stand without speaking, while leaning forward slightly (your neck may feel to you like you’re trying to elongate it, thus emulating the shape of a brontosaurus, how the technique gets its name) with your hands clasped together, almost as if you were praying.
- You do your best to be in your intended target’s peripheral vision. You want them to know that you’re there, but you don’t want to smother or crowd them.
- You fix your gaze on them but softly. Don’t beady-eye stare. Just look at them benevolently.
- Smile. Look pleasant and peaceful.
- Don’t say anything unless they ask you a direct question. You may nod as though you are actively listening, even if they are speaking to other people and not you.
This technique apparently works really well. But why?
Well, according to Dr. Lillan Glass, a body language expert, “The body language of the Kindly Brontosaurus is respectful and nonthreatening. There’s a humility, so you allow the other person to feel empowered. Since you’ve made them feel like king of the jungle, they’re more receptive to you.”
Dr. Glass also states that the posture doesn’t just prove helpful in customer service scenarios but can also be useful when interacting with family members or difficult people in other contexts like work.
This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.
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