In the pursuit of leadership excellence, communication skills are often over-looked and yet they are foundational to our success.
Have you ever felt that someone’s words and body language were not in sync? You may have been guilty of this yourself. Robin Miller, COO of ARTiculate: Real&Clear is a communication coach who helps executives and business leaders align the elements of their communication for greater impact. As our guest this month on the SkillBites Show, she explained how we are often not even aware that our non-verbal behavior could be in conflict with our verbal message. For instance, if we say to a person we are just meeting “pleased to meet you”, but our arms are crossed, we are sending a mixed message. Crossed-arms generally implies that you are guarding yourself, or you appear to be not approachable, which doesn’t jive with the phrase “pleased to meet you”.
Robin reviewed some other non-verbal signals that were surprising to me. When you cross your legs, that’s an indication that you may not be feeling confident or comfortable with the person standing across from you in the conversation. When you put your hand in front of your mouth, that’s an indication that you may be trying to hide something or that you’re not giving all of yourself, and aren’t fully trustworthy. One finger over the mouth may also be an indication that someone is trying to withhold what is on his or her mind at the time.
Where you sit in a meeting makes a difference. If you sit with your back to the door, you cannot see who is coming and going. The individuals who can see the door are in high status positions in the room because they can see who is coming and going from the room.
Robin related the story of a woman who was feeling as though she was being judged by the other attendees. When Robin asked her where she was sitting in her meetings, the woman stated that she sat to the left-hand side of the leader, audience right. The person to the audience right of the leader will be watched more closely because it’s natural for people to visually check-in with that person while they are listening to the leader. If you want to be noticed in meetings, sit to the left-hand side of the meeting leader and if you would like to be low key, sit away from the meeting leader.
When talking to people on the phone, your message will come through more enthusiastically and with more vocal variation if you involve your entire body by standing, moving around and using your hands to speak just as you do when you are talking to people in person.
Another quick tip is to remember that when giving a presentation, past to present to future moves from the right to the left. The presenter needs to use their right hand to go from right to left, because this will help the audience “see” past, present and future. Similarly, you should move on the stage from right to left for past, present and future. Robin coaches speakers on many aspects of their communication effectiveness including how to use breathing, pauses and pitch to enhance their message.
For a Communication Self-Assessment to see how your communication is aligned, email ARTiculate: Real&Clear at email@example.com with Communication Chiropractic Survey in the subject line.
If you are interested in communication and leadership coaching, you can reach Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-868-3889. ARTiculate offers a complimentary 15-minute consultation on how you can be a better communicator.