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How to escape boring conversations at your work Christmas party

It's all in the blink of your eyes!

How to escape boring conversations at your work Christmas party

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.

And if you forget someone's name, you could try one of these tricks.

Via Grazia