Banter like a man
You are out with your pals and suddenly, your group starts to talk with another group, an all-girls group. The numbers are even so you end up mixing as a group and you look at this cute girl. She appears to give you eye contact and smiles when you talk. Great signs!
But suddenly, she starts to tease you. And you have no idea how to respond. The pressure builds up, the conversation tenses and you go from “such a cute girl” to “why is she acting like a bitch.”
And at that moment, the spark in the girl’s eyes is lost and you see and feel it. The interaction just dissipates and every group goes its way.
The answer lies in bantering and the way we test each other through bantering. But first, let’s see why bantering happens in the first place.
Why banter happens
Even though we have built skyscrapers, cities and pyramids, we are, nonetheless, still apes… although sophisticated apes. And our brains still think that we are living in caves, being hunter-gatherers and trying to survive the harsh prairies of Africa. There were certain behaviors we did back then to live in that harsh environment, not only concerning food and shelter but also concerning our tribal nature and social structures.
Since we were living in scarcity and you didn’t have excess value at your disposal aka a lot of food and water stashed at your house, the females needed a different way to assess whether a male was suitable enough to mate with her.
And that way was the behavior of the male and the alpha traits he showed and one of those traits was banter.
If you showed the correct behavior, you would get the girl. If you didn’t, you didn’t get any. Simple as that. But guys learned how to lie so girls needed a different way to see our behavior.
“Hm, if there was only a way to get out his true behavior behind the words he says – because they could be just lies. Aha, I got it”, said the females and figured out that if you put a guy in a high-pressure situation, he will show his real behavior. And bantering is simply that. It is a way for the girl to put you in a high-pressure situation to see if you are someone worthy of her attention, affection and sexual energy.
So when the girl tries to banter with you, it means it’s a great sign! She is testing you to see if you are great as you appear to be.
Okay, since we saw why banter occurs in the first place through an evolutionary psychology lecture, let’s see what you as a guy should do about it.
First, we will go over the mindset you need to have as a guy about banter (and why you will love it) and then, I will show you some tips and tricks on how to effectively banter with not just a girl, but with/against other guys.
Mindset about banter
If there is one thing I love about reading books on multiple different topics is that I manage to make connections where there are none. And here is exactly a situation where I will use a book about theoretical mathematics to show you how to think about banter (thank you Nassim Taleb).
Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder talks about 3 types of people.
The first category is the fragile people, the second category is the robust people and the third category is the antifragile people. To see what they are all about, we will go into each of them.
Fragile people, as the name says itself, are people who are vulnerable to pressure and easily crack under it. When you are in banter, which is a high-pressure situation, you crack easy and start to lose your nerves and cool.
But it’s not what these people do only, it’s how they look at the high-pressure situations such as banter.
Fragile people want to avoid high-pressure situations (stay in comfort zone) because they believe they will crack under pressure and it will be the end of them.
If you are in this category remember, you are not a plate and you won’t break to the point of no return. Everyone has ups and down and if you want to grow, you need to be ready to go through the hard times and high-pressure situations such as banter. Trust me, it is worth it.
Robust people are the ones that are indifferent to shocks and high-pressure situations like banter. Robust people are big and strong and unaffected by the pressure that can be thrown at them.
But the problem with robust people is simply that- they are robust and slow to change in any direction. Just because they take the crap really good, doesn’t mean that they turn it into fertilizer. For them, it’s still something bad and unnecessary, but luckily, they won’t be affected by it.
But there is the last category of people for which you need to strive for.
Antifragile people thrive on shocks and high-pressure situations such as banter. They take the crap thrown at them and make a fertilizer out of them – they use pressure and potential failure to grow from it.
This is the mindset you need to adhere when you are in a banter. It is there not just to test you, but you can also use banter to grow as a person.
The first one will probably suck, the second one as well, but the fifth and sixth one will be okay and by the time you reach 20 repetitions, you will be really good at banter. And you will want more from it because you will grow from it.
This doesn’t only apply to banter. Whatever hard situation you have in life, use that to see what you can learn from it and how you can grow from it. Because that is what Antifragile people do!
Okay, we covered the mindset behind banter. So let’s see what are some tips and tricks we can use to banter effectively.
Banter tips & tricks
There are multiple tactics, tips & tricks to banter effectively but here, I will only teach you the four strongest ones. These four have got me through every single banter of my life and they are strong and quite easy to learn.
They are takeaways, self-defecating humor, silence and straw man.
So let’s dive right into them.
Remember the movie 8 Mile starring Eminem? In the last scene of the movie Eminem, playing the role of Jimmy “B-Rabbit” Smith goes on stage in the duel and starts rapping.
In his minute and a half on the stage, Eminem uses every single bad thing about himself and raps on that. He used every single bad thing about himself that his opponent wanted to use against him and therefore, the effect of those words was diminished to almost nothing. Because Eminem called them out before their opponent, the opponent lost leverage against Eminem.
Eminem won the competition and you will win your banter when you use this.
An example would be when you are talking with a girl and you tell her “We are not going to have sex tonight” or “I will take you home but only if you promise not to try to have sex with me.”
You have used the thing that the girl wanted to use against you and you did it before her. The most important thing here is to do it before the girl does it because that is when the takeaway tactic has the most power.
Congruence when talking works both ways. You can use words to hide your negative behaviors or you can use words to hide your positive behaviors.
But why would you hide your positive behaviors? Because of the thing called bragging. Everyone wants to tell everyone else that they have it great, but nobody wants to be an asshole who brags.
The way that you do that is doing self-defecating humor. For this to work, you need to have a strong body language which elicits confidence and manliness but at the same time speak the words that show something totally different.
This humor will help you brag without bragging and will make you look like a high-value guy.
Examples for this would be anytime you make a “mistake” in the conversation like forgetting her name, missing her hometown/college/number of siblings, you can just tell out loud “I am the worst person in the world” or “I am just a failure in life” while having a strong eye contact.
This will make her go crazy and will make you a banter-god.
p.s. Don’t use this at your high-school reunions if they knew you as a shy, insecure kid. It will just make you appear even more insecure than in high school in the eyes of your classmates (I made this mistake but that’s a whole different topic).
Ah, the good-old stare in the face. Silence is super powerful banter tool because it just shows how untouched you are by her comments and remarks and that she needs to continue speaking while you just look at her with funny expressions like “You are silly.”
Silence is powerful because it can (and will) show to the other side that they are not calibrated in this conversation and that they need to adjust themselves, their jokes and their banter.
You will appear to be more socially calibrated and the other side will have to change course. But beware, silence is powerful but only when used sparsely.
If you don’t talk at all, you will just appear socially awkward and weird.
My favorite way of using silence is only later in the conversation, never in the beginning. In the beginning, you need to show the other party that you have topics to talk about. That will make the silence even stronger later on because it is not the only thing you can do, it is the thing you choose to do at that moment.
And the last one:
A straw man is widely used in political debates, scandals, intellectual polemics but it can be a very effective weapon in banter with girls.
I won’t talk about the usage of a straw man in other areas because it would take 10 more chapters.
A straw man used in bantering usually concerns unreachable standards of either beauty, money, fame, funniness or craziness. It is a way you structure your argument or ideal so that you or the other person can’t possibly reach that high of a standard in the fields above.
It seems complex but it’s really simple to use. Look at this example:
You tell a joke which flops and the girl calls you out, telling everyone (or just you) how the joke was bad.
You immediately straw man yourself on the category of funniness and say:
“Yeah, I am not even up to the knees to ______________ (insert name of some super famous comedian like Gabriel Iglesias, Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle). ”
This makes the callout from the girl almost ridiculous because there is no way anyone in that place is even remotely close to having jokes like Bill Burr or Dave Chappelle. And you have taken the sting out of the joke with just this simple technique.
You can reverse this and use it on the other side like in an example of a gorgeous girl who has a “little” ego problem and thinks she is the most beautiful girl in the world and deserves everything.
A good way to straw man her is to tell her “You are gorgeous, but you’re no ______________________(insert some ridiculously high bar for beauty like Victoria’ Secret Angels).”
Banter is perfectly normal and we have been using it for thousands of years. And when you get one from a girl, it means she is considering you as a mating partner and this is her way to test you out.
So banter with her and think about banter in an Antifragile way – it will just make you stronger because you will grow from it. And the four tactics to banter effectively are takeaways, self-defecating humor, silence and straw man.
All that is left one is for you to use it.