The Shape of You            

We communicate non-verbally all the time, and not always deliberately or desirably!

When connecting and collaborating with others, most of us are, to some degree, aware of our body language and both consciously and unconsciously pick up on the signals being communicated through the body language of others. The meeting of these two message-communication units (you and them) often dictates the quality of connection and the can predicate the likely success of the outcome.

Last week I worked with an exciting group of finance-industry professionals on the more subtle aspects of how we communicate. My keynote speech for the opening of the day was about how we can increase positive connections and subsequent impact in every encounter.

Standing in small groups the participants agreed to be remoulded and reshaped to discover their unspoken impact.

Here are three of the many elements on which we focused:

·         Stance – finding your balanced centre. Leaning back or forward can communicate disengagement or intrusion

·         Head – chin down, face level. Chin-forward or forehead-forward can communicate superiority or aggression

·         Hands – casually at your side or, at most, one of your hands in pockets (not both). Hands in both pockets can communicate disinterest or boredom

With just a little Simple work, the “re-shapees” were surprised and excited at how their impact changed.

You may have heard me talk about body language and impact before, but as with all your professional development, it’s not a once only fix.  The opportunity to enhance your presence and impact should not be ignored. You have been presenting your current shape for a while – does it still work well for you? Is it aligned and consistent with everything else you say and do?

Having spent years standing and holding yourself in a set way reduces your awareness of what you are communicating as a default. When you meet new people they interpret your default set-up before you speak and act to confirm or deny their initial impressions. Critical ‘first seven-second’ impact situations such as when meeting a new client, entering a job interview or joining an already-underway meeting can succeed and fail through these initial impressions.

To develop this Simple Note I am taking inspiration from the late Louise Hay and the mirror-work discussed in her best-selling book “Heal Your Life”. She (and I) would encourage you to stand in front of a full-length mirror and look at your stance, head and hand position – reshape and upgrade. At first your new shape will feel unnatural and uncomfortable, use the mirror often to practice and get used to it

Alternatively, you may want to work with a trusted colleague to give you candid feedback on your previous shape and help with the upgrade. Choose and use the feedback wisely – remember - “Say what you mean, just don’t say it mean!”

As always, keep it simple…


P.S. One of my recent articles has been published by Enspirit Global – “How Could This Be Your Greatest Year?” – please enjoy it and share it with colleagues and friends.

PPS – This all said, the sad news this week of the passing of Stephen Hawking reminds me that our impact is as much to do with our attitude – in the most amazing cases we can and do transcend any challenges with the power of our minds.