Posted by Leslie Dickson
Did you watch the Tiger Woods apology press conference? Did his posture and eye contact tell you more than his words did? How about looking at photos of the Health Care Summit in February 2010? At any given click of the camera, you could see which politicians were winning and which were losing by a captured facial expression and a frozen hand gesture. I challenge you to watch your favorite news panel or talk show tonight with the sound turned down. Chances are, you’ll be able to provide your own narration and “keep score” simply based on what you see.
Body language is a powerful communication skill, isn’t it? There’s an old saying that your action speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying. In fact, studies show that, in a personal interaction, 55 percent of what the other people take in and process is visual. That is, they’re responding to your physical actions. Only 7 percent is based on what you say. So if your facial expressions, hand gestures and posture say something different from your words, guess what people will remember?
I’m not suggesting you learn to hide all your feelings — the appropriate sharing of emotions can be a powerful leadership tool. However, sometimes anxiety, anger or distractedness can interfere with keeping your body and words in sync. Here are a few suggestions to help you be sure you’re conveying your intended message:
- Remember to keep your body open, not slumped and huddled or cross-armed and hunched. That says you’re energetic, confident and ready to engage — not frightened or defensive. Remember to breathe deeply — that will help.
- Watch your hands. A case of nerves can lead to flighty fingers. And you’d be surprised how often anger shows up as clinched fists. Relax your hands in your lap or on the table.
- Make eye contact. Whether you’re speaking or listening, eye contact lets people know you’re focused on them and that you care about this interaction. Remember to smile or acknowledge the speaker in other ways. Here’s a tip for meetings. Be wary of shifting too much of your focus to note-taking. It looks like you’re disinterested, uncomfortable or avoiding the situation.
Here’s one more idea. Learn to pay attention to the body language of others. It will give you new insight into your team and how it works together. If you see gestures that are out of sync with words or a lack of eye contact, something is likely amiss. Is it fear? Disapproval? Confusion? When you understand the truths behind the words, the result is better communication. That’s the first step to creating more effective teams and more successful outcomes.
Want to know more? Watch the this video as Luanne talks about the importance of body language. It’ll help you say what you mean — in word and deed.
Posted by Leslie Dickson
Businesses grow best when their leaders are growing right along with them. Leaders who communicate their ideas and present themselves in powerful ways realize the best results. The following “Ten Tips to Executive Presence” are based on the skills we teach our clients. We encourage you to put our tips into your communication skills tool box, to not only develop your executive presence, but grow your business.
- Focus on your audience. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make their lives better – more efficient, more effective and more enjoyable!” Remember, your audience does not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
- Multi-tasking is for tasks, not communication. Although you may be able to juggle many tasks at once, the people you are building relationships with deserve your full attention in every interaction. When you give people your full attention, you are saying, “I see you, I hear you, and you are important to me.” It will increase your power of influence ten fold.
- Balance your logic with emotion. Although facts are expected in the business world, your biggest influencing tools will be stories and examples. It is through the use of these powerful influencers that you will ensure a strong emotional connection with your audience – a connection strong enough to take your audience to action.
- Make certain your pictures match. Take time to provide the picture painting details your audience needs to “see what it is you want them to see.” When you do this, you minimize the risk of misunderstanding and the “fallout” that often occurs as a result.
- Rely on expression to help you paint the picture for your audience. Use your face, voice and body language to show your audience “how high is high”, “how big is big” and “how much is too much.”
- Rely on the strength of your voice to command the attention of your audience. When your voice is strong and resonant, you are communicating strength, personal power, authority, and confidence to your audience. All are attributes of true leaders.
- Carry yourself in a manner that says “I am comfortable with myself, with my topic and with my audience.” When your posture is easy and relaxed – informal yet professional, your audience will not only feel more relaxed in your presence, but you will be more approachable.
- Use the power of your breath to keep you in the moment, easy, and relaxed. Oxygen is nature’s greatest tranquilizer, and believe it or not, it is also nature’s greatest energizer. So, use that same breath to energize your voice.
- Be concise. State your point, explain your reason why, back it up with evidence, restate your point, and talk about what needs to happen next. Remember, one of the most valuable resources (and the most scarce) is time. So, boost your credibility by honoring your audience by respecting their time.
- Be genuine . . . be real . . . be YOU! When you are yourself, you not only honor your audience, but even more important you honor yourself.
Posted by Leslie Dickson
Have you seen The White House Report Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being? It got a lot of media coverage during International Women’s Day in March and I found it to be fascinating reading.
Here’s a fact from it that may change the world…or just your career: Women now hold 51% of management jobs. The most important factor seems to be education level, with a higher percentage of women holding college degrees (36%) than men.
But is that all there is to it? I don’t think so. I submit that women are learning what were traditionally considered to be male traits (the yang) at the same time they’re beginning to leverage skills that seem to come more naturally to women (the yin).
Let’s start with the male yang.
Own the room.
Take an open stance (or sit up tall at the conference room table), breathe deep, smile. Be comfortable. Research shows that the person who appears most comfortable in any group will be perceived as the leader.
Speak your mind.
If there’s a tendency to hold back or couch your opinion in words that soften it, you’ve not joined today’s sisterhood. I think. I know. I see. Back up your opinion with facts, of course. Being wrong isn’t the worst sin; doing nothing is.
Don’t be afraid to be tough.
Women must tap into the confidence that goes with their higher level of education. The more you know, the more able you are to set down a well-reasoned plan and persuasively defend it. Have the confidence to hold others accountable for living up to it.
And the yin?
Embrace the trust factor.
Management Today and the Institute of Leadership and Management conduct an annual Index of Leadership Trust survey in England. In their two most recent annual studies, women CEOs rated higher on trust than their male counterparts. The two key drivers? Workers had more confidence in their female boss’s ability to do their job and also rated them higher for being honest and principled.
Work to understand the day-to-day challenges of your team.
That seems to be an important component of trust, the British study found. It’s not just the stereotypical view of women’s empathy at work here. Penny Valk, the CEO of the Institute of Leadership and Management, says it’s something more. “We know that women are not likely to put themselves forward for new roles unless they feel 95% capable, whereas men will happily do so at 65%, so what happens is that when women are promoted, they are very familiar with the tasks their people are doing.”
Women integrate. Men focus.
According to psychologist Helen E. Fisher in Enlightened Power, How Women are Transforming the Practice of Leadership, women gather bits of information to create a bigger, more holistic picture of a situation before making a decision. Men, on the other hand, tend to gather as much information as women, but analyze in a more linear path. This big-picture thinking may help women deal more successfully with ambiguity in business.
The bottom line?
Neither gender has a lock on excellence. It’s time we learn from each other. In fact, maybe our new age of he-said/she-said helps explain another one of the facts in The White House women’s report. The gap is closing between male and female pay – from 62% in 1979 to 80% today. Let’s see if we can’t learn to even it up.
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Image by MAMJODH