Sep 14 2011

Business Body Barometers

Hopefully, your mouse is pointing to (and clicking on) the HIGH TIDE box on the right~~~>

BUT, where is your foot pointed?


YES, I have better things to do. NO, I am not a kinetics (body language) expert nor a walking lie detector. Like most business owners, I muddle through exchanges with others –using a combination of what I know and feel from experience– to decide on another person’s intents, genuineness, and ability to perform up to my belief system.

But I have written and taught considerably on the subject, and am frequently asked about practical business applications. So, remembering that you’re not licensed to practice psychotherapy, here’s enough body barometer stuff to shrink out some of those business head cases you deal with:

Let’s first distinguish between verbal and nonverbal communication, keeping in mind that: A) words themselves do not have meaning; only people have meaning, and that: B) Only 7% of communication is generally believed to be verbal. (38% is believed to be tone of voice, and 55%, nonverbal!)

Nonverbal communication, I recall, is accomplished in 9 different ways (there may be more, but who needs more?):

  1. AMBULATION — How someone walks. Big differences in the messages coming from someone who swishes vs, stomps or swaggers, bounces, strides, or drags.

  2. TOUCHING — The most powerful form of nonverbal communication. Consider the differences in touch for expressing anger, interest, trust, tenderness, warmth . . . and the differences in willingness to touch or be touched.

  3. EYE CONTACT — When do pupils dilate? What’s in your unconscious mind about eye colors? Trust? Sincerity? Forthrightness? Does someone stare, shoot daggers, avoid direct eye contact, glance slyly?

  4. POSTURING — Are arms and legs crossed defensively? Stand or sit slouched or erect. Severe threats promote fetal positions.

  5. TICS — Uncontrollable nervous twitches may indicate a sensing of possible threats.

  6. S UBVOCALS — Um, er, uh, whew! . . . and grunts and groans, whistles, loud swallowing, tongue clicking.

  7. DISTANCING — We each have our own Space. Comfort zones vary by person, geographical region, country, and by odors.

  8. GESTURING — A wave, thumbs up or down, an OK sign or angry fist, a V can all be acceptable in one place and not in another.

  9. VOCALISM — Say: I LOVE my children! vs. I love MY children! vs. I love my CHILDREN! vs. I love my children! Same words, but do you hear different meanings?

STROKING arms, legs, or hair often indicates a lack of affection (perhaps at the moment, perhaps in general). See if talking about how valuable that person is to your business stops that activity.  SMILES are great, but can often be a defense mechanism. THE FACE ALONE CAN PRODUCE 250,000 EXPRESSIONS! (Weird research, huh?)

Sports guys and politicians use THUMBS UP and THUMBS DOWN. Hitchhikers point THUMBS SIDEWAYS.

CONFIDENCE is often expressed by pyramiding fingers, by hands in pockets with thumbs out and by hands held behind a stiff back.

INSECURITY is frequently communicated by pinching, chewing (pens, pencils, pipe, fingernails, gums), by hands stuffed deep into pockets, as well as by smoking, fidgeting, jingling coins, tugging ears or mustache, or underclothing, by someone who frequently covers her or his mouth and /or “ahems” often.

HOW a person lights and holds a cigarette, pipe or cigar, how he or she writes (including pen pressure), how glasses and eating utensils are held and used, how food is picked up and eaten. These are barometers. So are the ways people greet and say goodbye to one another. Handshakes (firm, wimpy, bone-crushing?). Hugs and kisses. Who touches whom?

The boss’s hand on someone’s shoulder shows authority. People in power feel comfortable touching subordinates, but not the other way around! Is it acceptable to touch a pregnant woman? Holding one’s hand to show the palm is regarded as a sexual attraction signal, especially when pupils dilate.

Watch how people move toward and away from one another — Distances? Who moves first? When?  Is someone’s foot pointed toward you when she or he speaks with you, or toward the door? Effective communications requires effort!

# # #

FREE blog subscription: Posts RSS Feed

Hal@Businessworks.US 302.933.0911

Open Minds Open Doors

Many thanks for your visit and God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

No responses yet

Jul 13 2011

Twisted Meanings

The mouth says “Yes!”


 but the body says “No!”


What’s wrong with this picture?

You stand there, head down and tilted to the right, parentally staring over the tops of your glasses.

Your arms are folded defensively across your chest.

Your aggressive right-side shoulder is turned away and leans on the doorway or wall.

Your aggressive right-side foot is being held back by your receptive left-side foot which has it blocked or covered.

And you are telling your contentious investor or your irate customer that she is right, that you agree completely.

A mixed message? 


Great sales professionals know that when your job involves some form of persuasion (name just one that doesn’t!), you can’t learn too much about body language.


Because without some great theatrical dynamics in your DNA, or having taken some pantomimist course of study, people’s bodies speak truer than their mouths.

(Precisely why txtmsgs fail in every attempt to exercise persuasion.)


Without being able to see firsthand how the person or group you’re communicating with responds to greatly handicaps the persuader’s ability to gain acceptance. Remember that every successful decision to buy, or buy in, is one that’s emotionally-triggered–not logically reasoned.

Telephones are a step up from texting because careful listening allows us to “see” responses like a smile, a frown, anxiety, preoccupation, anger, but it’s true that there is nothin’ like the real thing, baby! Skype? Pretty close to in-person, though you’re not likely to ever know if the tie and jacket are just upper hosts to underwear and bare feet!

Studying up on observation skills is always a good thing, but don’t expect it to suddenly turn your tide. Careful listening and effective eye-contact (note the word “effective” means to eliminate staring, glaring, leering, and flirting) are equally important assessment tools. They give you the unspoken chance to make adjustments.

Great athletes will tell you that the ability to make adjustments –batter to pitcher, quarterback to hard-charging defenders, boxer to boxer, skier to slope conditions, golfer to wind, marathoner to temperature, etc.– is the difference-maker and deal-breaker when it comes to actual performance.                                                                                  

Still trying to think of a job that doesn’t involve some form of persuasion? There are none. And that should tell you something all by itself. The better you can be at quietly and unobtrusively “reading” and processing another’s body language (kinetics, if you prefer formality), the more effective you’ll be at growing your business.

When you note someone folding arms, crossing legs, sitting back, jiggling a foot, or steepling their fingertips, you must decide how to mentally/physically/emotionally step back from whatever you’re representing, long enough to prompt a change to more receptive posture before moving forward.

Thinking is one thing. Awareness is another. 

# # #

 Your FREE subscription: Posts RSS Feed

Hal@Businessworks.US  302.933.0911 

  Open minds open doors. 

 Thanks for visiting and God bless you.

   Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

No responses yet

May 15 2011

Why Texting Doesn’t Cut It!

What you see is what you get,


and with Txt Msgs,


you see nothing!



In-person meetings are most telling. Phone calls? At least you can “hear” a smile or gasp or snort. And, if you’re paying attention, you can usually tell if the person on the other end is paying attention. Even emails give you a clue. Texting? Fuggetaboudit!

According to my friend Jeff Banning, president of award-winning third-party logistics provider, Trinity Logistics, Inc. in Seaford, Delaware:

effective communication is only 7% verbal. 38%, is (transmitted) by your tone of voice, and 55% is through non-verbal body language.”

Are you taking note, sales professionals?


In other words, more than half of effective communication is not spoken!

With hundreds of employee “teammates,” Jeff oversees more than seventy successful offices across the country, so I believe what he says.

Because we are humans (or is that too presumptuous?), we get fooled sometimes. But we all know instinctively that we are less likely to be fooled when we can take stock by looking someone in the eye.

Eye contact of course is hardly within the realm of txt msg textability.

. . . Or emails. Ah, but emails at least do provide us with some clues . . . I’m not referring to the chit-chatty ones or quick one-sentence back and forth emails. I mean significant emails — ones with proposals. reports, attachments, outlines, strategies, plans, applications, etc.

Someone who doesn’t use spellcheck, for example, or avoids greetings and sign-offs, or who clearly never takes the time to read what she or he wrote, and specifically to read it out loud to her or himself (which all great writers do, by the way), tells us the sender is likely rude and/or insincere.

How can you tell when someone is lying? Teasing? Taunting? Smiling but angry? In a superiority mode? Anxious to leave? Eagerly interested? Tolerating? Bored? Ready to explode? Thoughtfully considering? These and other responses are right in front of you, staring you in the face. The “eyes” (with apologies to Parliament) have it!

This doesn’t mean you must always be in some one’s physical presence in order to “read” the meaning or intention of his or her messages by checking eye movements and facial expressions.

If you’ve read enough of my blog posts over the last few years, you know when I’m kidding or serious. You know when I’m sad or angry or frustrated by the words I use and how I present them. You can generally discern other people’s “tone of voice” even when you can’t physically hear them.

But when situations and/or people involved are important, nothing beats the unspoken messages that come from other peoples’ eyes. Yes, like the song, there are indeed “Lyin’ Eyes,” but paying careful attention (not staring or glaring, mind you) to what you see in the eyes of a speaker or presenter will minimize being taken advantage of.

The only way on earth that you can be effective at “reading” others is by keeping yourself grounded, and focused on the here-and-now present moment as much of the time as possible. Aside from monitoring your pulse or heartbeat (which can get a bit awkward under some circumstances), this no-fail approach is worth your one-minute review.


# # #

Your FREE subscription: Posts RSS Feed

Hal@Businessworks.US or 302.933.0116

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

No responses yet

Jan 04 2011




Front burner food for thought


for every sales and


leadership encounter!

First, recognize that every form of leadership gets its salt and pepper from the world of professional sales, and particularly for spicing up the first ten seconds of every encounter, which is the amount of time used to “size up” a leader or a sales pro.

Second, since everybody seems to love acronyms (especially all those tax-dollar-paycheck-justification head-cases in government and big corporations), here’s another acronym to write on the palm of your hand . . . or on your knee, perhaps, if you wear skirts:


(I hear your brain ticking away as we speak.)


TONE— Set the TONE by being on time with your neat, clean appearance (from clean shoes and clothes, to deodorized skin, clean nails and teeth, and neat hair — briefcases and pocketbooks count too!). YOUR VISUAL APPEARANCE consumes second #1 of being “sized up.” The same dynamics apply to email and text messages that appear crisp and friendly, that don’t assume too much with abbreviations and attitude.


EVERY — EVERY smile :<) is a free gift you can give to others. Make it genuine (people can tell, even by phone, when it’s not). It consumes second #2. And E is also for EYE CONTACT (neither probing or riveting stares, nor sideways glances). Keep in mind that people can also tell when a phone call connection is distracted. Ask if you’re interrupting. Offer to call back.


NUANCE — Your handshake (neither bone-crusher nor fish fillet) takes up second #3 and either confirms and reinforces the first two seconds, OR raises a mental-red-flag cause for doubt about you and the products/services/ideas you represent.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-T. . .


START — START with a friendly clear greeting and question.


EACH — Remember that EACH of the first ten seconds that passes will make or break your sale or degree of leadership acceptance.


CONVERSATION— Begin with a brief (“elevator speech”) summary that “BILLBOARDS” what you have to sell: Use emotional triggers. Tell a story with a beginning, middle, and an end, and that’s persuasive . . . all in seven words or less, then ask for the sale (since it takes 5-6 attempts to close a sale, you can’t start asking too soon).


OPEN — OPEN your ears and listen with care. Ideally, you’ll listen 80% of the time after these first ten seconds, and speak 20%.


NOTE — NOTE what’s said (and what’s not said) right from the git-go. Actually write it down. Ask the speaker to slow down so you can jot a couple of reminder notes of what she/he says. Ask for examples. Nothing flatters like an attentive listener and note taker.


DECIDE — DECIDE if the prospect is worth your time and energy (especially on a trade or professional show or showroom floor) and politely dismiss yourself from window-shoppers and tire-kickers when you’re busy. When you’re not, get engaged and practice!


SELL — Too many salespeople (!) and leaders forget to sell!

# # #

931.854.0474 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

No responses yet

Mar 15 2010

Interviewing? (Be a Detective!)

No matter which end of


the interview


you’re on…


     Few things can feel more satisfying than to win over the person at the other end of an interview by taking quiet control with championship communication skills.

     Active listening, thoughtful speaking and careful observations pay big dividends in employee/employer screening and hiring interviews, as well as in day-to-day operations.

     Yes, it’s true that nothing beats a great handshake, neat appearance, good grooming, eye-contact, and a bright smile for openers. But once you’re seated, you need a new set of tools.

     And no matter which end of the interview you’re on, be careful to not blow off a great first impression with lousy body language.

     When you sit back in your seat (especially in a sprawl and/or with hands clasped behind your head) you are giving off a superiority attitude that no one likes, even if you happen to be superior.

     If your arms, legs, ankles, hands, wrists are folded, you are communicating defensiveness, which will not work to your advantage, even if you are feeling that way.

     Open-ended questions provide the most revealing answers:

  • “Tell me what’s important to you that’s not on this resume?

  • What would you do if I gave you a million dollars cash right this minute?

  • Who or what has made the biggest difference in your life and how did that happen?

  • What would make you choose situation A over situation B even though B would offer you more money? (or better benefits?)

  • What’s the hardest work situation you’ve ever had to deal with?

  • How did you get started in this business anyway?”

are all good examples.

     WHAT the answers are to these or any other questions are only 20% important. HOW the answers are delivered accounts for 80% of what’s important! How rushed or deliberate are the responses?

     How serious or humorous are the answers? If humor is included, is it disparaging or self-effacing? In good taste? Does eye-contact have a focal point or is it more like staring? Leering? Avoiding?

Resist the temptation to fill the air with words.

Silence is a very useful and telling tool as long as it doesn’t go past the point of being intimidating.

In the same context, note taking is always a powerful practice; it keeps your attention focused; it supplements your memory banks; it’s flattering.


     Prompt, then listen. Never hesitate to clarify with paraphrasing (“Do I understand you correctly to mean . . . ?” Fill in your own words to check the meaning of something you’re in doubt about). Ask for examples. Ask for diagrams. Offer examples. Offer diagrams.

     Be careful with any job candidate who seems preoccupied with issues involving compensation, insurance, vacations, sick days, personal timeoffs, overtime pay, time reporting, lunch and coffee breaks. If you’re a candidate, be careful of a prospective employer who doesn’t volunteer this information up front.  

     When you can be prepared to the point where the interview is something you look forward to, you are likely to be ready to communicate effectively no matter which end of it you’re on. When you can be a detective during the interview, and make adjustments along the way, you’ll be increasing your odds for success regardless of whether you’re asking or answering.   


Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

One response so far

May 05 2009


Effective Communications


Requires EFFORT!


If you’re willing to put out the extra effort because clear, concise and accurate communications is important to you and your business, be prepared to take a more active listening role. As you may need to project yourself more assertively, be equally conscious of the need to become a better listener.

Resist the temptation to skip ahead in your mind while someone else is speaking. Stop trying to imagine what’s next and, perhaps even worse, stop reviewing in your mind over and over what has already been said. You can always check that later, or simply interrupt to request a once-over on the part you missed or didn’t understand.

When your mind races ahead of what’s being said, or drags behind to mull over something that has already passed by, you miss the present moment and the statements that are being made, as well as the nuances of expression and intonations that give the words their true meaning. You must work at staying focused and not allowing your mind to drift.

How can you keep your listening and comprehension skills on the front burner? Follow these four simple rules of good listening:

  1. TAKE DEEP BREATHS. Just as flames die without oxygen, so will your ability to keep focused on the present moment die out when your “normal” way of breathing fails to get enough oxygen to your brain. By deep breathing (which no one needs to notice if you practice it enough), you will also be prompted to not cross your arms or legs or hands…all signals that subconsciously tell the speaker that you are mentally “closed off” and not receptive; often these nonverbal signals communicate defensiveness as well.

  2. TAKE NOTES. Writing down what you hear keeps your brain uncluttered by getting the words from the speaker through your ears, into your brain and down your arms into your hands and fingers and onto paper (or your keyboard, if appropriate for the setting and circumstances). You can keep your notes and look at them anytime without the distraction or taxing of your memory that occurs when you carry the comments or instructions around in your mind like a ping-pong ball lottery drum filled with tumbling numbers. Taking notes helps you listen more carefully.

  3. MAINTAIN GOOD EYE CONTACT. It’s a fact that just as you can “hear” a smile, you can “see” what you hear in person. In other words, good eye contact (not staring) communicates attention and interest. You will also absorb more of what the speaker really means by the words used, by watching for gestures and facial expressions in the process. Can you look in the mirror and tell yourself how happy you are while actually communicating something else with your face, hands and posture?

  4. PARAPHRASE WHAT YOU HEAR by repeating back what you got from it in your own words, and in the form of a question. “Do I understand you correctly to mean that…?” (finish the question with your own words, interpreting what you think you understood). “If I understand you correctly, you’re saying…is that right?” works fine too. The speaker will be flattered. Asking for examples is another great technique.

The point is to take responsibility for listening carefully and taking notes and repeating back things to clarify and make sure that what is said is what you heard. It’s YOUR job to be sure that YOU’RE right, right?

# # #

Hal@Businessworks.US or 931.854.0474

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

One response so far


Tag Cloud