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Part 2: Verbal and Non-Verbals

Part 2: Verbal and Non-Verbals
So you saw Charlie Chaplin in the Great Dictator. You saw how he started the speech, you saw the crescendo. You saw how he ultimately ends this speech. You’ve discussed with your classmates around the impact of that variation in tone, pitch, and volume, and the impact that it has on the message, the non-verbals ultimately keeping you engaged. What I’d like to do now is shift to some of these other non-verbals. That are hugely important. The smile. The facial expression. We’ve been doing research here recently showing that leaders, their emotions are contagious. You walk in happy, your employees are more like to be happy.
You walk in sad, or frustrated, or angry, your employees are more likely to be frustrated, sad, or angry. Even, maybe scary for many of you, is the motions that you feel at work that are often communicated through your facial expressions. We published a study a couple of years ago that shows that those emotions get communicated through your facial expressions in many ways to your home life. And so the facial expressions that you carry are hugely important for communication. In the case of your vision, what we’re finding is the smile is particularly important. And in particular, a genuine smile. So if you come in sad angry and with a big frown on your face, that’s contagious.
It undermines the motivational impact of the vision you’re trying to communicate. What we’re finding is that a genuine smile, what I mean by a genuine smile is, there are researchers all they study are facial expressions. And what they’re finding is that if you fake a smile, the smile essentially is not aggressive enough to create the wrinkle lines around your eyes and people subconsciously actually view the smile as fake or disingenuous. And what we’re finding is that a genuine smile when you are really engaged and excited about what you’re doing. Very positive thus creating the smile. Actually then communicates to your audience in this case your team members.
Your employees or whoever it might be that you are truly passionate, truly engaged with the vision that you’re trying to communicate. Which then has the positive benefits on the other end of the contagion effect. Where they want to get engaged in the same vision because you are and you’re communicating that through this smile. So, don’t forget when you walk into the office that next day. The facial expression that you’re carrying with you. And ultimately, make sure that there’s a smile and a genuine smile that you’re using to communicate your passion for what you’re trying to accomplish. The third critical success factor that we’ve found is what we called an open body posture.
This was made famous by a TED talk from a colleague of mine at Harvard University, Amy Cuddy, who’s a social psychologist, who’s studied open and closed body postures and how our non-verbals enable us to communicate to others and influence others. And her work is fascinating in this area. And there are many others who are carrying on this work. But what we’ve found is there are basically two different types of body postures. There’s what we call a closed body posture which often has us with our arms crossed, our legs crossed. Very closed in how we sit or stand. We also refer to these as low power body postures. Relative to what we call open body postures. Which are the open arms.
Or sitting back in your chair in ways where you have a very open frame to the people you’re meeting with or your audience. But in particular, the open arms and the open chest, and this open body posture, and what we call also as a high power pose, or high power body posture. So to give examples of some of the highest power body postures that we see in business or the arts with your hands on your hips as you stand is much more the high power body position than if you were to cross your arms, for example. Or as you see in politics, politicians are trained extensively on how they carry themselves in their non-verbals.
You will more than likely see very open body postures. Or models, for example, where they are instructed to project confidence. And the way they project that confidence is often with their hands on their hips in this very sort of aggressive stance. What we’re finding in our research is very counter-intuitive. What’s intuitive is that these high power very open body postures have an effect on the people you’re trying to communicate with, where, for example, with this open body posture, you are bringing them into how you wanna communicate, and the message you’re trying to deliver, and that is absolutely true.
We find that in our research, is when I have an open body posture, you are much more likely to be engaged with the message I’m trying to communicate and otherwise. But the counter-intuitive point that we’re finding, which I find very interesting, is the effect that it has on you as they communicate, or the person trying to communicate your message. Amy Cuddy, and others, Dale Carney and some others, have done some fascinating research on the physiology of these positions. One study in particular that I’ll share with you, was published in 2010, back in psychological science. It’s one of the most fascinating studies that I’ve ever seen, to be honest.
What they did is they brought people into a lab environment, and they had them individually, in private, assume either low power very closed body postures or very high power open body postures for 1 minute, 60 seconds is all it took. And then after that intervention if you will where they randomly assign these people to one of these two conditions either high power or low power body postures, again, remember only for one minute. They had them do a task, and they had them hooked up to these physiological monitors that monitored your hormones. And in particular, two very important hormones, one being cortisol, which is actually the hormone most tied to your stress levels.
So the higher your cortisol level, the higher your stress. And then the second was testosterone, which is the hormone that is most tied to your energy levels. And the results were very striking and interesting. So for example, the people who were in the high power condition, where, remember all they did was stand with their hands on their hips or an open body posture, their hands held high, for example. For one minute, relative to the people who sat or stood in very low power or closed body postures, the people in the high power condition had a 25% decrease in their cortisol levels after or following this one minute intervention. At the same time, they had a 20% increase in testosterone.
Again, that hormone for their energy level.
Again, these body postures are not only having an effect on the people you’re trying to communicate with, they’re having a profound impact on you. They’re reducing your stress. While at the same time increasing your energy levels, which actually enables you to communicate more effectively to your audience. Those effects are profound because now prior to going into that team meeting where you wanna communicate your vision to your team. Maybe you wanna close your office door. And stand in one of those high power body posture positions. Open arms, wide chest, hands on your hips.
And the effect will be profound, such that your stress will go down, your energy will go up, and you may not even realize it. But, the effectiveness of the vision that you ultimately communicate to your team will be that much greater as a result.
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