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Microexpressions & How They Can Help You Become a Better Santa

About 30 years ago, LONG before I ever portrayed Santa Claus, I began the study of microexpressions. At that time I was on a mission to become more comfortable with public speaking. I was a member of Toastmasters International, taking classes and attending many different training sessions on becoming a better communicator. During that time I was introduced to the research on microexpressions.

I AM NOT endorsing any of these websites or anything they may offer. I’m ONLY providing links to them to help familiarize you with microexpressions if you are not already familiar with them. You can learn more about microexpressions here- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Microexpression & here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGhOuA3rr1k  & here https://www.scienceofpeople.com/microexpressions/

The basic idea is pretty simple, it’s this. We (all people) subconsciously have micro reactions in our facial muscles that express our emotions… these true emotional indicators are present, (ever so briefly) even when we consciously are expressing other emotions or simply acting in ways that are more polite or more socially acceptable.

There are 2 ways that an awareness of these microexpressions can help us become even better at portraying Santa (as well as in all of our communications).

The 1st is in our ability to better ‘read’ a child, or parent, we are engaging with as Santa.

The 2nd is in our ability to better express the emotions we want to express as Santa. This can help us create better photos & videos.

GET A BETTER ‘READ’…

Of course, some children are very easy to read… especially the younger ones who are terrified or thrilled to see Santa. One comes running with open arms and the other is drug kicking & screaming or they just don’t get near Santa at all… easy enough.

Where we are helped by being familiar with microexpressions is not so much on the extremes as in the middle. The child who is hesitant but curious. When we can recognize that little spark of curiosity, or wonder, or surprise, we have something to build on.

By understanding how to interpret microexpressions and then by paying close attention to the eyes, lips, brow, nose & cheeks we can get a ‘read’ on what the child (or adult) is feeling.

Here’s an example, many times when I’ve determined the child is afraid but also curious I’ve suggested that the child just stands to the side for a few minutes and I’ll talk with him in a few minutes.  

I’ve also had times when a parent looked concerned because their child was crying or very reluctant to visit with me. In times like this, I’ve often said something to put the parent at ease. I might say something like, “Oh, my goodness… you’re full grown. I remember when you were your daughter’s age. You have always been so nice. I’m glad to see you again, please tell me, who is this?”

By engaging with the adult it takes the pressure off of the child. It also provides an opportunity for the child to access us and the relationship we have with the adult… the child is getting a ‘read’ on us.

You may well have done these things too… at some level recognizing microexpressions is intuitive for most of us but the more deliberate we become at looking for & recognizing microexpressions the more effectively we can use them to improve our Santa portrayal.

Emotions are tricky and the better we can become at recognizing them EARLY the better position we’re in to nip any negative emotions in the bud before they taint the whole Santa experience.

BETTER EXPRESS OUR SANTA CLAUS CHARACTERISTICS

By being knowledgeable of, and conscious about, our expressions, micro and otherwise, we can improve our photos & videos.

Here’s an EXCELLENT EXERCISE for you. In front of a mirror, or better yet in front of a webcam that’s video recording, start with a solemn or regular face and slowly smile with your eyes. Keep your lips and everything else the same. Using ONLY YOUR EYES smile. Practice this… if at all possible video record yourself doing this and watch and re-watch the video.

Do the same thing using ONLY your lips.

The idea with these exercises is to become aware of when the very slightest indications that you are happy, or in our case, JOLLY become visible. Understanding how to subtly convey your jolly demeanor allows you a wider range of Santa-like expressions… it can also help you change your ‘set-point’ or your ‘resting Santa face’, so even when you are not ‘on’ you still look Santa-like.

It’s amazing how instinctual it is for us to ‘read’ these body language clues. My granddaughter is only 11 months old and she’s been able to ‘read’ emotions from both looks & vocal tones for a while now.

When she’s doing something she questions, like reaching for something on an end table, she will often look over to me and see my reaction. I can give her a ‘no’ nod with an unhappy look and she gets it… the same with a ‘yes’ nod and a smile.

I’m certain that increasing my consciousness of these non-verbal clues has helped me become a better Santa Claus portrayal artist.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave your comments below and/or join the discussion in our Facebook Group.

Are you seen as Santa jerk? (without even knowing)

Just last week I had a person who works with a large number of Santas tell me that in his office they often talk about how rude and ‘un-Santa-like’ many Santas are.

I’m not talking about when Santas are performing… although that can be an issue too. In fact, on jobs, both at malls and private parties, I’ve had clients mention that their prior Santa was grumpy, not jolly… or a jerk.

The person last week was NOT talking about Santas in character… he was talking about the men who portray Santa when they’re just ‘being themselves’. He and his co-workers were shocked by the incongruence, and he didn’t say it, but I suspect they were a bit disappointed as well.

Like me, you’ve probably seen this grumpy side of Santa portrayers in Facebook groups or heard about it from your clients.

Of course, I know we’re all adults, and none of us are perfect… and I have no problem with people being rude or communicating like jerks if that’s the way they want to communicate… to each his own.

BUT…

My concern is there are Santas out there who have no idea they are being perceived as ‘not Santa-like’.

Are YOU being perceived as grumpy, or even a jerk, and NOT EVEN KNOWING IT?

We all fall into habits of all sorts… including our vocabulary and patterns of communication.

You’ve seen people who talk too loud, use tones and inflections that are too aggressive, use language that’s off-putting, rude or even offensive. When the person is ‘over the top’ it’s very obvious to everyone… including the person talking.

It’s when it’s NOT ‘over the top’ that I think it can be the most harmful… and you’re likely not even aware of it. You’re just “being yourself.”

In verbal communications, our pace, tone, and volume add emotion to our words… and these things are INTERPRETED by our listeners. In other words when we’re talking to a small group, say 2 or 3 people, each of them can walk away with a different understanding and feeling about what we said.   

To communicate more effectively we must gauge our communications to our audience. We already do this all the time when we’re portraying Santa. As Santa, we recognize children who are a bit frightened, shy or perhaps on the autism spectrum… and we adjust our communications accordingly. We lower our volume and use a softer more inviting tone. We slow our pace. We customize our communications to the needs of this particular individual.

As it turns out, customizing our communications for adults is a good idea too.

In person with adults, we don’t usually get the obvious visual cues that we get from a bashful 4-year-old. This is where being acutely aware is helpful. Watching and listening for very subtle signals can benefit us immensely. In person we can see micro facial expressions, tensing, loosening, a hint of a smile or creasing of the brow.

Over the phone, we can listen for a change in tone, or pace, or a pregnant pause prior to a response. These are all signs that we may want to modify the way we’re communicating in order to be more effective and considerate of the person we are communicating with.

In writing it’s all about the words and sentence structure. In fact, it was written words that prompted the conversation I started this post with… the person who works with Santas. It was after reading a message from a Santa that he brought up the topic of grumpy and ‘not very Santa-like’ Santas.

To increase the likelihood of having our written communications interpreted as being nice, kind, considerate, thoughtful and all of the other traits that we associate as ‘Santa-like’ we can use words and sentence structures that convey or imply a ‘nicer’ tone.

If we write (or say), “I was not happy when I saw that you…” it conveys a message.

If we write (or say), “I was disappointed when I saw that you…” it conveys a different message.

If we write (or say), “I was surprised when I saw that you…” it conveys yet a different message.  

In context…

“I was not happy when I saw that you charged me twice for the same thing.” VS

“I was surprised when I saw that you charged me twice for the same thing.”

Does one seem nicer or more ‘Santa-like’ than the other?

Of course, we also think with words. When we changed the words we use verbally we often also change the words we use for thinking. This also works in reverse. When we begin to use different (or additional) words in our thinking we tend to use them in our written & verbal communications as well.

Let’s say you use the words mad and angry pretty consistently. Of course, these words are rather intense.

What if you added some words that provided more of an incremental scale. What words convey an emotion that’s less intense than anger? How about upset? Unsettled? Peeved? Disappointed? Hurt? Surprised?

By spending a little time identifying words that are more precise and words that convey different levels of intensity and then using these words as tools we can better adjust our communications just as we would do with that frightened child.

With some thought and practice, we can modify how we communicate, we can change old habits, and we can create a better experience for both the person we are communicating with… and for ourselves.

The fact of the matter is that many of us Santas derive a lot of personal satisfaction from turning what could have been a negative experience for a child and their family into a positive experience. We often credit our sensitivity and our skills with this positive outcome.

My hope is that by applying this same sensitivity and perhaps some new, or dormant, skills we can become more ‘Santa-like’ in ALL of our communications… and even change our thinking so it too is more Santa like all year ‘round.

 

Getting 2019 Off to a Great Start

Last week’s training session on “How to Get the Most out of GigSalad” was another huge success.

Megan Price the Director of Customer Experience for GigSalad provided information that even longtime GigSalad users found VERY HELPFUL… and we all loved the limited time 50% discount on GigSalad membership she provided, especially knowing that we can ‘freeze’ our account.

The ‘on-demand’ version of this session is now available to Bronze- Platinum Members and all other membership levels have access for the duration of your membership… but the discount code for GigSalad expires on 2/13/19

CURRENT GOLD & PLATINUM MEMBERS The registration links for our February, March & April sessions are now available. You will find the link to the registration links on your Hub Page.

The first live session is Wednesday, Feb. 6th. The live sessions are being held on the first 3 Wednesday’s of February, March & April. We start promptly at 5:30PM Pacific Time & sessions typically last about 90minutes. Please register for all of the upcoming sessions as soon as possible.

CONSIDERING GOLD MEMBERSHIP?

Winter enrollment closes Tuesday, February 5th! REGISTER HERE

Here’s what you get…

GOLD & PLATINUM members receive access to our 9 2019 LIVE ‘Core Curriculum’ sessions (and the on-demand versions). Here’s what’s covered:

February

CLASS 1-  How to Set Up Your Santa Business to Maximize Your Fun & Income

CLASS 2-  How to Market Your Santa Business for Maximum Fun & Income

CLASS 3-  Home Visits- How to Book More & Perform Better

March

CLASS 1-  How to Become an Extraordinary Santa Claus

CLASS 2-  How to Use Video Chats to Boost Your Income While Having Fun from Home

CLASS 3-  How to Book & Perform Corporate Visits

April

CLASS 1-  How to Get on TV for Fun and Profits

CLASS 2-  How to Develop Other Revenue Sources as Santa Claus

CLASS 3-  How to Book & Perform Community Events

AND as a GOLD or PLATINUM Member… you also receive access to ALL of the on-demand sessions from 2014 to the present. This is currently 79 SESSIONS!

Platinum members also receive group and individual coaching on how to get paid TV & movie work.

Gold Membership is $247 & Platinum is $397. You can join either level with monthly payments of $50 if you prefer. Pop me an email and let me know you would like the monthly plan & I’ll send you an invoice.

NON-MEMBERS You can become a FREE member now and access:

  1.  Get the Most Out of GigSalad (Available until 2-6-19)
  2.  18 Tips to Make This Your Best Santa Season EVER!
       ..The handout for the “18 Tips” session
  1.  My “Engagement Agreement” Word doc
       . Generic Engagement Agreement Header
  1.  Sign Language (ASL) Booklet by Santa Thomas McDonald
     ASL session taught be Kat Imhausen

BRONZE MEMBERS ($27 for 12 months): You receive these 9 additional sessions…

  1.     How to Get the Most Out of GigSalad
  2.     Being a ‘Brand Ambassador’ w/ Randy Cook & Using ‘SWOT’ to Improve Your Santa Business w/ Derek Dugan
  3.     The “Santa & Mrs. Claus 2018 Season Debrief” session
  4.     9 Do’s & Don’ts for Santa & Mrs. Claus
  5.     Being a Mall Santa with Kristi Cooper of WWP
  6.     Storytelling as Santa – Coal Story –Jimmy Hyatt
  7.     Storytelling Session 08-03-17
  8.     18 Common, Costly & Embarrassing Mistakes Made by Pro Santas & Mrs. Clauses
  9.     2017 Santa & Mrs. Claus Debrief Session

SILVER MEMBERS ($147 for 12 months): You receive these 16 additional sessions…

  1.      On-Camera with Michelle McCarty-Jessica Kringle
  2.      Maximize Your Income & Impact
  3.      Being More Santa Like All Year Round
  4.      12 Ways Santas Have Earned More Money
  5.      18 Common Santa Mistakes Session
  6.      Social Marketing & More with Mark Ramsey
  7.      9 Do’s & Don’ts for Santa & Mrs. Claus 2017
  8.      Being a Mall Santa: Soup to Nuts with Gordon Bailey
  9.      7 Ways to Increase Your Income by Thousands of $ This Santa Season
  10.   18 Common, Costly & Embarrassing Mistakes Made by Pro Santas & Mrs. Clauses
  11.   101 Questions for Santa (with Answers)
  12.   TAX SESSION with Santa Steve Eastis
  13.   9 Tips to Earn More Money & Have More Fun in 2016
  14.   Beard Whitening & Care
  15.   Being Mrs. Claus
  16.   Being Santa Claus for Children with Special Needs

If you have any questions give me a call at 424-343-9555 or email me at Santa @ SantaEd dot com

Gig Sites: How to make the most of them – FREE WEBINAR

WINTER REGISTRATION CLOSES ON FEBRUARY 5th for Gold & Platinum membership. Core Curriculum sessions start on February 6th. 

SPECIAL GUEST- Megan Price.

Megan is the Director of Customer Experience for GigSalad. She’s been with the company for over 6 years, working in the areas of marketing and customer service.

Megan has also organized multiple events that required booking talent, so she has an insight into both sides of the industry. Her passion is helping people make a living doing what they love!

GigSalad & GigMasters have some Santas saying they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread… while others are saying they are a waste of time, money & effort.

In this session, we’ll also learn from the experiences of others Santas. We find out what has worked for them and what hasn’t.

To ACCESS this session become a member at the Bronze level or higher.

Santa Marketing (Probably Like You’ve Never Seen)

This session is designed especially for Santas & Mrs. Clauses who are seriously interested in growing their Santa business.

BEING A BRAND AMBASSADOR – Santa Randy Cook from Seattle will be joining us to talk about some of his experiences being a Brand Ambassador for several companies. Randy will provide you with unique insight into an aspect of portraying Santa Claus that few have ever done… and it can be a ton of fun & VERY lucrative. I will also share about my 2 years as a Brand Ambassador for Hello Santa.

SWOT FOR SANTA – Derek Dugan in Atlanta will explain what a SWOT Analysis is and how your Santa business can benefit from using this proven business tool.  Derek will also provide an example of a SWOT Analysis. By the way, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.  I used this business analysis format for many years in my Internet marking business and still use it when I’m consulting/coaching Encore Entrepreneurs.

We will answer questions on both of the above topics and any other marketing related questions that are posed to the panel.

TO ACCESS THIS SESSION ‘ON-DEMAND’ BECOME MEMBER AT THE BRONZE LEVEL OR HIGHER

ABOUT RANDY: Randy Cook is a Santa in the Seattle WA area. He has been a professional artist, a firefighter/EMT, and a teacher. Presently, he works in a public school with students that have had adverse childhood experiences.  While working full-time as a teacher this last Santa season he was able to do over 40 appearances. Most all of his appearances are developed by his online marketing from his website.  Along with these appearances he has marketed personally to be a Brand Ambassador Santa for a motorcycle company, and for an outdoor clothing company that has been in Seattle since 1897.

ABOUT DEREK: In addition to portraying Santa Derek Dugan is an advertising and marketing coach specializing in developing and expanding brand presence, increasing visibility and driving consumers to purchase and engage in products or services offered through that brand.

Some of the most notable brands Derek has been associated with include, Walt Disney World Design and Development, Walt Disney Resort Design, Sea World, Scholastic Books, The Orlando Magic, Grand Hyatt, Bahama Tourism, Suntrust, United Community Bank, Barclay, SearsCard, American Flat Track Racing, Harley Davidson Motorcycle, and Indian Motorcycle.

Happy New Year

Just saying Happy New Years sounds so obligatory… so insincere.

At the same time I really, truly, want to wish you a Happy, prosperous, healthy New Year. So Happy New Year!

It’s so exciting to think about investing all that we’ve learned over the past year, and in all of our prior years, into this new year… into 2019.

2019 also marks some changes at The Santa Claus Conservatory. I have changed the membership model from annual to 12 months. So regardless of when you join your membership will run for 12 months.

There’s also been a slight increase in the membership fees and I’ve added a brand new Bronze level that’s only $27.  Go to The Santa Claus Conservatory dot com to see what’s included at the various membership levels.

Also, renewing members can receive a discount if they renew by January 16th… log in to your membership hub to renew at the discounted rate.

This is a strange time of the year for us Santas & Mrs. Clauses… we just wrapped up our season… we’ve had some time to recover and think a bit… we might feel a bit sad to see the season go… at the same time we’re excited about 2019, and if you’re like me, you want to do what you can to make 2019 EVEN BETTER than 2018 or 2017 or any prior years.

Even though I had a terrific 2018 I don’t want a repeat of 2018 in 2019… I want this year to be even better, I want it to bring new experiences…

I love the fact that I shot a commercial in Japan last year. I love that I had a movie that I was in, This Was Our Christmas, come out in 2018.

I love that I was able to be Santa for nearly 300 adults with developmental disabilities… and that I spent time with the Homeless at the Midnight Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles and with very sick children at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

I love that I was doing Santa stuff from July through Christmas. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the the 2018 I had.

Do you feel the same way? Would you like 2019 to be even better than in 2018?

One way we can all do that is to learn from one another… to help with that I’ll be hosting our “2018 Santa & Mrs. Claus Debrief” session on Thursday, January 3rd. This session is FREE session sponsored by The Santa Claus Conservatory and available to Santas & Mrs. Clauses worldwide.

Our 9 Core Sessions will be on Wednesdays this year… the first 3 Wednesday’s of February, March & April.

Lastly, I just want to say I’m so happy for you. I’ve received over 100 emails, text & facebook messages sharing experiences of being in parades, working in malls & retail outlets, doing home & business parties… and several from Santas who did commercials, TV & movie work. These messages thanked me and the Conservatory… but it’s me that owes you the thanks.

I thank you for being a part of this community. I feel so good knowing that so many of you are learning things that are helping you have more fun & have a greater impact as Santas & Mrs. Clauses.

I know many of you mentioned The Santa Claus Conservatory in interviews with local & national media… THANK YOU FOR THAT… the Wall Street Journal, VOX & Fox Business all interviewed me about the Conservatory in 2018… as did several local news outlets.

Let’s make 2019 even more special. Let’s do all we can do to build, nurture and help keep the SPIRIT of Christmas and the SPIRIT, the thoughtfulness, the generosity, the kindness, the jolliness of Santa & Mrs. Claus alive and flourishing ALL YEAR LONG.

God Bless you and all whose lives you touch.

 

Mysterious Ways… Blessings of a Santa Claus Portrayal Artist

Coincidence or The Christmas Spirit?

I went to Costco this afternoon, something I probably do every couple of weeks when I’m in So Cal. I’m putting some wraps into the cart and a man, probably in his late 60’s or early 70’s in one of those handicap carts sees me and just lights up. He holds his hand out and says, “I just knew we were going to see you here. I told my wife, we’re going to see Santa here tonight.”

I shake his hand and begin to walk away, he says, “Where will you be? I want to get my wife, daughter, and grandson to get another picture with you.”

I said I was just going to get some eggs and water and I’d be right back.

When I came back his wife was now with him, also in a handicap cart. She reached up for a hug and said how her husband said they would see me again today.

Soon the daughter and grandson, the grandson was about 8, joined us.

We pulled to a side and talked and hugged and took pictures and hugged and talked. They explained how they first saw me 3 years ago getting gas at Costco and how I came over to their car and talked so kindly to their bit apprehensive grandchild and how we took photos. (At this time I started to remember them a bit.)

Then they explained how we saw each other in the parking lot last year. I was parking as they were loading their car to leave. Again we talked and took photos.

Of course, I had given the grandson one of my “Caught Being Nice” cards on our prior visits, well yesterday he took one to school to show his friends and IT GOT LOST. He was devastated.

He now has several. 🙂

I SO LOVE doing what I do and being who I have become.

Cool Vest for Santa Claus ThermApparel Review

Santa Claus needs to keep cool… but he doesn’t need to add any weight or girth.

Here’s the solution… a Santa Claus cool vest… but not just any cool vest. This vest by ThermApparel add almost nothing to the cookie zone and weighs less than 2 pounds!

You can learn more at https://www.thermapparel.net/santa and be sure to use the Discount Code SANTA18 to SAVE 10%

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