08.05.19 | Watch Your (Body) Language!

As a personal communicator you are always on stage. So is everyone else. One major finding led to the so-called 7-38-55 rule reflecting the relative percentage impact that words/tone of voice/body language convey when speaking. That's right, more than half of your message is communicated through the language of your body alone.

The lesson: effective communication (rightly or wrongly) is as much about your very persona and delivery as it is about the substance of your message. Or, stated differently, you are the message. Joining us as "lead participant" is our own Maria Brinck, founder and president of Zynergy Coaching, offering leadership and executive coaching to Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurs, sales directors, and leadership teams. The purpose of the session is not to make you more self-conscious but rather to simply raise awareness of nonverbal power.

My previous incarnation provided plenty of first-hand opportunities for observation. Corporate board meetings could be theater, whether tragic or comic. There were, of course, the presentations. Presenters could be all over the map. Some clearly knew their stuff but the delivery was a dronefest (MEGO was the term i.e. my eyes glaze over). Others could dazzle yet a transcript of their pitch, especially read in the fullness of time, might otherwise evoke an eyeroll.

And so it could be in discussions among board members. The alpha-syndrome was sometimes on display. One lesson that stood out for me involved a rather understated, soft-spoken woman (please, let this not be a gender discussion) whose delivery was met with a rather mild reception. A male member then provided an opinion that aroused the group. It was then a third member pointed out, wait a minute, that was essentially a restatement of what she had just said.

A somewhat related topic involves techniques of negotiation. As with a group delivery or sales presentation the most informative body language signals to monitor are engagement and disengagement behaviours. While it may sound like an impossible task to spot these nonverbal signals while keeping track of the "substance" of your negotiation, sales effort, or personal agenda, remember you've been reading and reacting unconsciously to body language cues all your life. What's different now is that you'll be taking conscious note of these signals: watch the eyes; notice facial expressions; learn what gestures are saying; focus on shoulders and torsos; read feet signals (see below).

You may be surprised by how much we might share from the laboratories of our respective lives. Our Bud W. has a powerful example involving simple body alignment.


Steve SmithComment