The Secret Language

stan ribeiro newsletterNo! This is not something we made up when we were kids, it’s not the “Pig-Latin” we heard growing up from the adults, in an attempt to disguise the conversation. It isn’t even what we say or even how we say it. I’m talking about the secret language we send or receive with our body language.

Yes it is true! We can pick up on our customer’s body language. We also send signals to our customers, fellow workers and everyone we come in contact.

So, let’s take a few minutes to talk about this important non-verbal language we all speak loud and clear.

Unfortunately, what we say verbally is not always the signal we send. Try to say the word “No” but shake your head up and down to indicate “Yes”. Hard to do isn’t it, takes effort! That’s because you are consciously trying to contradict your verbal with non-verbal communication. Sending signals is one of the things we do naturally. Just like any of our other senses, our subconscious can trigger the way we stand, sit, lean, hold our heads, or our hands. All play a part in what we say. The challenge is to convey the same message both verbally and non-verbally as not to confuse the listener.

Have your ever noticed, passing a stranger in the hall or side walk we can gesture a non-verbal “hello” by nodding our heads downward as we pass? Now notice when you pass someone you know well, your “hello” becomes a chin up gesture as to say “hey how you been”. This type of behavior is subconscious. I was told a long time ago that this happens because of the human survival instinct to protect our vulnerable neck to strangers and to open ourselves to those whom you know. Pay attention to this next time you pass someone.

Body Language can alert you to a customer’s feelings. You can sense someone’s anxieties if they lean to each side repeatedly while they wait. You can see someone protect themselves by making themselves smaller as to slouch or keep their shoulder inward or arms across their chest.

Look at your customers body language; are they checking their watch, are they in a hurry? Does the woman place her purse in front of herself? Are they looking away from you as you speak? Do they make eye contact with you as to say “Yes I am listening” or do you sense they are not interested or have already determined they do not believe what you are saying? Watching a customer respond to a question as they try hard to remember, their eyes can go up as they are thinking and down if they are trying to make up an answer. It is the utmost importance to watch how they are reacting to your verbal and non-verbal communication.

It is equally important to be aware of your own body language. Are you distracted by things around you while you are talking? This may present the possibility that your speech is rehearsed or not as important as the distraction. Are your arms folded in front of you in a defensive posture? Do you lean towards others to gain their attention to focus on your verbal communication? Are you too aggressive when you introduce yourself or start a conversation? Do you appear to be unapproachable? Is your handshake too forceful or too long; is it too weak or timid? Are you taking a power pose by making yourself big, arms out, opening up type position or a powerless pose by making yourself small, legs crossed, head down, arms inward wrapped up and closed. What your body says to you is as important as to what it says to others.

Are you saying yes but nodding no? Customers can pick up on your body language.

Your task now is to be become more aware of these gestures.

Confidence begets confidence, show it, say it, become it.


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