Successful leadership is dependent upon the capability to inspire and positively affect individuals. In preparing for an important meeting -- together with your staff, leadership group, or clients -- you focus on exactly what to say, memorize critical things, and rehearse your presentation so you will come across as credible and persuasive. This is, clearly, something you know.
But did you also know that the people you're hoping to affect will be subliminally assessing your credibility, confidence, compassion, and trustworthiness -- and that their analysis will be only partly influenced by what you express? Were you aware that your use of personal space, physical gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact may enhance, encourage, weaken, or even sabotage your impact as a leader?
Listed below are five key things That Each leader needs to know about human language:
You can create an impression in under 7 seconds
In company interactions, initial impressions are critical. Once someone emotionally labels you as"trustworthy" or"suspicious," powerful" or"submissive," whatever you do will be considered through such a filter. If a person likes you, she'll search for the finest in you. If she mistrusts you, then she'll guess all of your actions.
As you cannot stop individuals from making snap decisions -- that the human mind is hardwired in this way as a survival mechanism -- you may understand how to make those choices work in your favor.
First impressions are made in under seven minutes and are heavily influenced by your own body language. In fact, studies have found that nonverbal cues have more than four times the effect on the feeling you create than whatever you say. Here are a few tips to Bear in Mind:
- Adjust your attitude. People today pick up your attitude instantly. If you greet a client or put in the conference room to get a business meeting or step onstage to make a presentation, think about the situation and create a conscious choice about the attitude that you want to embody.
- Smile. Smiling is a positive sign that's underused by leaders. A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome and inclusion. It states,"I am friendly and approachable."
- Maintain eye contact. Looking at someone's eyes transmits electricity and indicates interest and openness. (To increase your attention contact, make a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone that you meet.)
- Lean in marginally. Leaning forward shows you're engaged and curious. But you ought to be respectful of another individual's space. That means, in most business situations, remain about two feet off.
- Watch your position. Research from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University found that"posture expansiveness," positioning oneself in a manner that opens up the human body and occupies space, activated an awareness of energy that generated behavioral changes in a subject independent of the actual rank or role in a company. In reality, it was consistently found across three studies which posture mattered more than hierarchy in building a man believe, behave, and be sensed in a more powerful manner.
- Shake hands-on. This is the quickest way to establish rapport. It is also the best. Research suggests that it takes an average of three hours of continuous interaction to develop exactly the same amount of rapport that it is possible to get with just one handshake. (Just be sure you have palm-to-palm touch and that your grasp is firm but not bone-crushing.)
Creating Trust depends on your verbal-nonverbal orientation
Trust is created through a perfect alignment between what's being stated and the body language that communicates it. If your expressions aren't in complete congruence with your verbal message, then individuals subconsciously perceive duplicity, uncertainty, or (at the very least) inner conflict.
Neuroscientists in Colgate University study the effects of expressions by simply using an electroencephalograph (EEG) machines to quantify"event-related potentials" -- mind waves that form peaks and valleys. One of those joys occurs when subjects are displayed gestures which contradict what is spoken. This is exactly the same brain wave dip that happens when folks hear nonsensical language.
So, in a very real way, whenever leaders say one thing and their gestures signify another, they simply don't feel. Whenever your body doesn't match your words (as an example, dropping eye contact and glancing around the room when attempting to convey candor, swaying back on heels when speaking about the company's solid future or folding arms across the chest while declaring openness) your verbal message is lost.
Everything you say when you Talk to your hands
Perhaps you have noticed that when people are passionate about what they are saying, their expressions automatically become animated? Their arms and hands move about, emphasizing things and conveying excitement.
You may not have known this link, but you automatically felt it. Research shows that audiences tend to look at people using a greater variety of expressions at a more favorable light. Studies have found that individuals who communicate through active gesturing tend to get evaluated as hot, agreeable, and energetic, while those who remain still (or whose expressions seem mechanical or"wooden") tend to be seen as plausible, cold, and analytical.
That is one reason gestures are so critical to a leader's effectiveness and getting them directly in a presentation connects so closely with an audience.
I've observed senior executives make rookie mistakes. When leaders don't use gestures correctly (if they let their hands hang limply to the side or grip their hands in front of the bodies at the timeless"fig leaf" place ), it indicates they don't have any emotional investment in the issues or are not convinced about the point they're attempting to make.
To use gestures effectively, leaders need to be aware of how those motions will most likely be perceived. Here are four common hand gestures as well as the messages behind them:
- Hidden Palms. Hidden hands make you seem less trustworthy. This is among the non verbal signals that are deeply ingrained in our subconscious mind. Our ancestors left survival decisions based solely on pieces of visual data they picked up from one another. Within our prehistory, if someone approached hands out of view, it had been a sign of a potential hazard. Though today the danger of hidden hands is more symbolic than actual, our common psychological distress remains.
- Finger pointing. I have frequently seen executives utilize this gesture in meetings, discussions, or even interviews for emphasis or to show dominance. The problem is that aggressive finger pointing may imply that the leader is losing control of the problem -- and also the gesture smacks of civic scolding or playground.
- Enthusiastic gestures. There's an interesting equation of hand and arm movement using energy. If you want to project more enthusiasm and drive, you can do so by increased gesturing. On the other hand, over-gesturing (especially when hands are raised over the shoulders) can make you seem irregular, less believable, and not as powerful.
- Grounded gestures. Arms held at waist height, and expressions within that horizontal plane, assist you - and the crowd - feel centered and composed. Arms in your waist and bent to some 45-degree angle (accompanied by a stance about shoulder-width wide) will also help you stay energized, refreshed, and concentrated.
Your most influential communication medium is (nevertheless) face-to-face
Within this fast-paced, techno-charged era of texts, teleconferences, and video chats, a single universal truth stays: Face-to-face is the most preferred, productive, and highly effective communication medium. In reality, the more company leaders communicate electronically, the more pressing becomes the need for private interaction.
Here is why:
In face-to-face meetings, our brains process the persistent cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional familiarity. Face-to-face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what we say to people just partly from the words that they use. We get the majority of the message (along with each the psychological nuance behind the phrases ) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues. And we all rely on instant feedback -- the instantaneous answers of others -- to help us judge how well our thoughts are being accepted.
So powerful is the nonverbal link between people that, if we are in genuine rapport with somebody, we subconsciously fit our body positions, moves, and also our breathing rhythms with theirs. Most interesting, in facial experiences the brain's"mirror neurons" mimic not simply behaviors, but sensations and feelings as well. When we are denied those interpersonal cues and are forced to rely upon the spoken or printed word alone, the mind struggles and actual communication suffers.
Tech might be a terrific facilitator for factual information, but meeting in person is the trick to the positive employee and customer relationships. Since Michael Massari, Ceasars Entertainment's SVP of National Meetings and Events explained:"Regardless of what industry you work in, we're all in the public business. No matter how tech-savvy you might be, face-to-face meetings are still the best means to capture the interest of individuals, engage them in the conversation and drive productive collaboration. In reality, in Ceasars, our mantra is:'' If it is not that significant, send an email address. If it's important but not mission essential, pick up the telephone. When it's critically important to the success of your organization, go see someone."
In case you can't read body language, You're missing half the dialogue
More company executives are studying not only how to send the proper signals, but also how to examine them. Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, understood this clearly. "The most significant thing in communication," he once said,"is hearing what isn't said."
Communicating happens over two stations -- nonverbal and verbal -- resulting in two different conversations happening at the same moment. While verbal communication is always important, it is only one message being sent. With no ability to read body language, we miss critical elements for discussions that may positively or negatively affect a business.
When folks aren't completely onboard with the initiative, leaders will need to be able to recognize what's happening -- and also to respond quickly. That's why participation and disengagement are two of the most significant signs to track in other people's body language. Engagement behaviors imply interest, receptivity, or agreement while disengagement behaviors signal boredom, anger, or defensiveness.
Engagement signals comprise head nods or tilts (the universal sign of"giving someone your ear"), and open-body postures. When individuals are engaged, they'll face you directly,"pointing" at you with their whole body. However, the minute they feel uneasy, they might angle their body away -- giving you"the cold shoulder" And if they sit through the entire meeting with both arms and legs crossed, it's unlikely you've got their buy.
Additionally, monitor the amount of eye contact you're getting. In general, people have a tendency to look longer and with more frequency in people or objects, they like. Most of us are familiar with attention contact lasting approximately three seconds, however, if we enjoy or agree with someone we automatically increase the quantity of time we look into his or her eyes. Disengagement activates the reverse: the amount of eye contact reduces, as we have a tendency to look away from matters that bore or distress us.
Body-language savvy has become a part of the executive's personal brand. Good leaders sit, stand, walk, and gesture in a way that exudes confidence, competence, and standing. They also send nonverbal signals of warmth and empathy -- particularly when cultivating collaborative environments and handling change. As an executive coach, I've been awed with the effect that body language has on leadership benefits. Superior body language abilities will be able to help you motivate direct reports and bond with audiences, current ideas with additional authenticity, and project your private brand of charm. That's a potent set of skills for any boss to grow.