As human beings, 100% of our experiences have a physical component. Watching TV has a physical component; walking into a building, entering a room, having a conversation (whether in-person or over the phone/via skype) all have important physical components.
If we are ignoring the physical in these seemingly, ‘non-physical’ experiences, how much are we leaving up to chance and engrained habit?
Since televised presidential debates began in 1960 with the famous Nixon/Kennedy match, the role of nonverbal communication and presence have moved to the forefront of political leadership.
With statements and remarks flying this way and that, it can be a challenge to keep track of what each candidate answers to each question and rebuttal. However, we still come away from the event with a clearer idea of who we like, who we don’t like and…well, who left no impression on us at all.
Giving feedback is hard. It is one of the skills newly appointed (and even established and experienced) managers and leaders often struggle with in professional settings. It is also one of the toughest skills to master in personal relationships.
Unless you work in complete isolation, chances are you have to face the prospect of either giving, or receiving feedback on a regular basis. At the root of honest feedback is an intention to improve and strengthen relationships. It is therefore the lifeblood of any growing organization and it is imperative to understand how to navigate its murky waters with prowess.
I am going to go ahead and bet, that at some point in your life, you have heard the words, ‘it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it’. For better or for worse, the way we deliver our messages is a powerful indicator of the impression we have on people at any given time. And yet, many important components of delivery (body language, tonality, dress) are usually left out of our education, professional training and prep work.
In our fast-paced world, where information and knowledge seem to be a quick click away, it is easy to develop the tendency to expect change to happen overnight. As anyone who has been frustrated with the pace at which they get ‘used to’ a new role, a new relationship or a new project, the realization that this formula for immediacy does not work shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Think about your day. What activity do you spend most of your time doing? Are you staring at a screen(s) for multiple hours? Are you sitting? Standing? Are you stooped over a work table or are you bustling about a restaurant?
No matter what your professional set up is, chances are your body is spending a good deal of its time in the same posture. No matter what the posture is, any body that is not moving around on the regular, is going to experience discomfort. If you are so zoned into your work that you don’t notice your discomfort, you will notice it later.
Across the US, many workdays are filled with meetings that are discombobulated and pointless. One way to solve this is to ensure that people are coming to the table and showing up as holistic individuals, aware of themselves and aware of their fellow team members. I highlight the role of the manager in this scenario, but everyone’s presence affects everyone else’s. There is a real sense of empowerment and responsibility simply in being in the same room as your coworkers.
Due to the popularity of my previous article on Embodying Change, I thought I would expand a little further on the difference between knowing something, and embodying something by taking a look at four distinct categories of intelligence.
Change. Improvement. Resolutions. This time of year is rife with expectation. Have any New Years’ resolutions? This question comes with both a feeling of momentum and anticipatory guilt at the all too probable inability to maintain our New Year-spurred efforts. Will this year be any different? It can be, and here’s how.
Gestures and body postures, tend to have cultural sensitivities which, when known, can greatly enhance your ability to connect more quickly with individuals in entirely different parts of the world.
I spent the past two weeks having conversations about philanthropy with individuals and families all over Asia. From Singapore to Seoul, I met with over 100 people and in each short meeting I was able to apply certain nonverbal techniques to help move our conversations along despite the limits of our verbal tongues.
From a basic neurological/anthropological perspective, human beings are hardwired to live with, learn from and grow in relation to one another. In this capacity, we are distinctly social creatures and it is our ability to connect on a deeply limbic level that allows us to survive…and communicate.
Whether your work entails internal meetings, check-ins with superiors, pitches in front of potential investors, clients or employers, it is important to be aware of your audience. In traditional workplaces, where your performance is not always determined by a specific moment in time, the identification of a fixed audience is slightly less clear. In my mind, there are two main types of performances you might find yourself in at work.
Think about the last time you met someone for the first time. How long did it take for you to form an impression of them? As much as we may like to think of ourselves as non-judgmental and open individuals, our brains are hardwired to make very quick, snap judgments of people almost instantaneously. For thousands of years, it has been a matter of survival to be able to quickly identify if someone, or something, is friend or foe.
An interesting thing happens to your body when you are experiencing moments of happiness, celebration and pride. Simply, you take up more space. I begin all of my programs by coaching people through what I call an ‘anchor posture’. This is essentially a neutral posture that isn’t overly aggressive, but which encourages individuals to stand tall and wide, filling out their unique physical framework.
For clients of CFB, there are a number of key takeaways which serve as both reminders and measurements of progress. The one takeaway which resonates most with my clients is what I call the 'connection to the floor'.
Beware the dreaded i-hump. It’s a thing. And I am not just speaking about the physical burden of wisdom that seems to come with years of walking this earth, but a serious epidemic that is causing even our youth to develop a rounding of the back of the neck and shoulder areas.
You've all heard it - the eyes are windows to the soul. You've probably also heard 'eye contact' being thrown around as a tip for public speaking and engaging with people....well, that advice is only part of the story.
As with many things in life, in order to draw helpful insight out of an observation, you have to first understand the context. In analyzing nonverbal cues, context is one of the most important factors. Without taking context into consideration, a single gesture or posture can take on a variety of distinct meanings.
Think of the last time you went to a restaurant. What did you think when you first walked in? How did you feel? Were you greeted with a smile and an open gesture of welcome? Or were you left to figure out where to go and with whom to speak with first?
The topic of confidence is relevant to everyone. Everyone wants more of it - even the most seemingly confident person out there. Where does the body come in? What does a confident person look like and can you make yourself appear more confident by posturing in a certain way?
When asked this question, most people answer 'body language'. This is correct. But there is more. As other nonverbal experts like Joe Navarro and .... mention, body language is an important part, but only one part of the full nonverbal landscape.
When it comes to body language, and first impressions in particular, I have found that posture is an obvious and powerful message transmitter. Picture this: an individual walks into a room with 'good posture', aka standing up tall, their head aligned with their necks, shoulders open and feet pointing in the same direction as their hips and knees. The snap perception is one of confidence, control and self-assurance.