We all know the feeling of being cornered near the tree by some bore blathering on about their recent travels but there's a way of getting out of those dull conversations.
Scientists have discovered that blinking - at length - helps signal, ever so subtly, to your conversational counterpart, that it's time for them to back off. Research published in online journal Plos One found that blinking can find a subconscious purpose.
Paul Hömke, from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, said: "I noted that the longer blinks seem to have a special role in signaling 'message received', being often timed with nods and the like."
In his research, he had 35 volunteers have conversations with virtual avatars. The avatars asked them a bunch of open-ended questions, such as "How was your weekend? What did you do?"
While the volunteers answered, the avatars would blink. Some avatars would blink for a fifth of a second, othes would blink for two-thirds of a second.
The result was that those volunteers whose answers were met by a long blink would stop talking about whatever they were talking about a few seconds before the volunteers who's avatars blinked for a shorter amount of time.
"Our findings show that one of the subtlest of human movements — eye blinking — appears to have a surprising effect on the coordination of everyday human interaction," Hömke told The Times.
The conclusion is that, if you blink for longer, the boring wine-breathy middle manager who's followed you to the corner of the room, to tell you about their holiday in Fiji, will stop gassing on earlier. The best thing about this news is that deliberate blinks always last longer than the involuntary blinks that we do as part of a reflex action to help lubricate our eyes. So you won't accidentally put someone off talking!
In the meantime, here's some tips on how to make small talk at a party, until you get into your groove.
- BodyA cup of coffee a day could be the secret to burning fat
Now To LoveToday 2:00pm
- CareerThe Chicks Suzanne Lynch on nearing 70 and life being more exciting than ever
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyToday 10:00am
- FamilyMental health advocate Mike King opens up about his daughter Alex following in his footsteps
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyToday 9:41am
- RoyalsDuchess Meghan has upgraded her engagement ring from Prince Harry
Now To LoveToday 9:15am
- FamilyThe woman who supported Arthur Taylor through four decades in prison
Woman's DayToday 8:30am
- TVThe Block NZ Firehouse contestants Stacy and Adam's biggest challenge
Woman's DayYesterday 11:39am
- RoyalsSarah Ferguson brings to light one of the royal family's saddest tales from the past
Now To LoveYesterday 11:39am
- RoyalsDuchess Meghan reveals how she made her royal wedding to Prince Harry feel ‘intimate’
Now To LoveYesterday 9:30am
- Food & DrinksCassidy in the Kitchen: Bravo NZ host Cassidy Morris's easy peanut butter cups
Now To LoveYesterday 8:47am
- RelationshipsDWTS judge Camilla Sacre-Dallerup's romantic Queenstown escape with her husband
Woman's DayYesterday 8:35am
- MindWestside's Antonia Prebble talks motherhood, career and how she nurtures her mind, body and soul
Good Health ChoicesYesterday 8:00am
- BodyHow to best take care of your skin in cold winter weather
Now To LoveYesterday 7:30am