We talked about the problems of communicating internationally in the three day interpersonal skills workshop I am leading this week. One of the other issues that came up was the lack of small talk. If your doing everything by e-mail, and your feeling constantly rushed and overwhelmed your tendancey is not even to do a normal salutation, just a, "...I need this now."
I suggest you consider time problems and,in at least in your Monday e-mails, spend a few lines asking people how their weekend was, what good things have been going on in their lives ect. You can small talk via e-mail and we need the cushion of interpersonal communication to smooth out the rough spots in our work-a-day lives.
We also need to be aware that E-mails were not designed to send emotional messages. The internet was designed to send information, not emotions. It is so tempting at work to blast off a message via e-mail, without dealing with that messy human contact. But, if you’re in your office and you have a message laced with intense feeling to send to someone, go talk to them!! If over 80 percent of the meaning of the message is sent through nonverbal communication your simple e-mail that has no nonverbal communication will often be misinterpreted.
Finally, we sometimes blast off an email so we can say to ourselves, "That's taken care of." In truth, it may not be. Because you do not see the person get your message, understand it and respond to emotionally you really do not know if it taken care of. Follow up, at least occasionally with a phone call, a stop in the hallway or an office visit to make sure the receiver, really, "got" the message.
There are two things that are important about this practice. One is that you make significant eye—contact with your loved one so that they feel, “seen” the other is that your face shows the joy you feel in seeing them enter the room. Let me talk about ‘Seeing” them in today’s blog. When I was sixteen I was, as I am now a voracious reader. I read a book by philosopher Eric Fromme on love called the “The Art of Loving." These many many years later I still remember how Fromme defined love as feeling seen. I remember thinking it would be that the person who loves you looks at you in way they makes you feel human and divine at the same time. That you wouldn’t feel invisible. As I grew up I realized that we often feel invisible in are love relationships with family or sweeties. So today, make real eye-contact with the people you love. See them for the wondrous people that they are.
"Stephen is symbolically stepping on Paul," "You can almost see the movement, see it happening. And it's in combination with his hand position I would love to know what was said." "In that particular foot positioning,the toe would normally go down. But it's both up and facing slightly toward the former PM -- that is very telling. And that hand motion is a power motion. It's not done a lot, unless you're Italian or maybe Arabian or during public speaking, where you bring your hand flat down like that. It's done when you're admonishing somebody and when you're very emphatic about a point.""there isn't equality between the two of them. One feels much more in a position of power." Martin, looks as if "he's the one losing this negotiation or losing something in this interaction." She gives the former PM a toe-to-head reading. "He's doing a very unusual 'locked cross' with his feet. They're so twisted shut, which shows a very strong need to protect himself against attack. The way he has his legs positioned is also unusual. He's pressing them together, which is protection, and has them angled to create a wall between him and the new Prime Minister. The legs pressed together is very symbolic -- that's a man afraid of being kicked in the . . . . "
Wood says it's the lower part of a person's body that is most honest, because it's "under less conscious control." And while she feels Martin's doing a slightly better job of relaxing up top, there are a couple of other indications of "his need to protect and slight feelings of aggression." Like his right hand. A relaxed person's hand will fall much closer to the knee than Martin's does. "The elbow and the arm are about four to six inches further back on the leg than normal," says Wood. "His shoulder is raised up, showing tension and a need to retreat backwards." And there's the loose fist -- "it's more defensive than aggressive." The same can be said of his facial expression. "If you look at his mouth position," says Wood, "he has his bottom lip and his chin jutted out slightly -- again that's defensiveness, pouty defensiveness." From one picture, Wood comes up with the following personality assessment of Martin: "The posture and facial expression are so vulnerable, almost like a lack of maturity -- I wonder if he was very emotional when he was in power, if he had outbursts?"
She finds Harper doesn't give off as many "body language cues," and his face isn't revealing -- perhaps lending credence to the robot theory? But her overall impression is that he's "attractive and confident." He crosses his legs in a way that gives him more height, and his shoulders and face are relaxed. But she warns that the outside world may be put off by someone with so much power having such youthful features. And Wood, who gives workshops on how to improve body language, has some suggestions. "I would say that the new Prime Minister be a better listener and more empathetic. He also might be too consumed with image." Having also studied the photo of Harper shaking hands with his son after dropping him off at school, Wood concludes: "He should be a little more aware of being more real."
She spent a great deal of the speech talking about her alcoholic ex husband, "aka. 'The Rat'" and the horrible life she had with him.
I was fascinated by the long drawn out pauses the author gave before she was about to reveal some horrific aspect of her life. I was fascinated, because during the pause their would be a flash of pain across her face then a small smile would play there as her head tilted up and she shared the terrible incident. What where her true feelings? I think she was reliving the tremendous pain of her past, then enjoying the fact that she could share that pain, in fact I think she even enjoyed reliving the pain. Nonverbally she seemed to enjoy sharring it, not merly for us to apprieciate her marterdom for living through, it, but by somhow she simply seemed to receive pure pleasure from expressing it. She ended her speech, rather oddly, by singing the Janice Iain song about the painful adolescence of an ugly duckling, “At Seventeen”
Perhaps my deduction was not difficult to make as she would often share a success, such as the flying in her lire jet, or having over 37 novels published, just after sharing a painful story. She affected my friends differently. All of us had had experiences dealing with alcoholics, yet some of us felt moved and effected by her presentation, and others felt that she was manipulating us, by asking us to feel sorry for her and then envy her a moment later.
Why am I blogging about this? Well I think the whole process of sharing our past pain, and what the lie detector test of of nonverbal communication reveals as we do this, is interesting. And any time I am deeply affected by someone’s nonverbal behavior and find myself judging it, I ask myself what I can learn from it. So her behavior made me examine the way I share my past pains and current successes. I started to ask myself this weekend what my motivations are for sharring a story.
I am going to continure to examine my own body language as I share a past injustice, generally whine and complain, or just plain brag about a success.
Every human interaction is a chance to hold up mirror and reflect. What will the mirror show you?
As a body language expert and media and political coach I am passionate about speaking with honesty and credibility. I discussed in a previous post how delay in speaking was a nonverbal communicator let me explore the actual interview.
In a televised interview granted exclusively to Fox News Channel, four days after the shooting, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke. He was looking down and to the right before making his main statements. When people look down and the right they are accessing their kinesthetic (feeling/body sense) and they usually have more skin color. Cheney, however, was very pale and drawn. They generally have a lower, slower voice tone which Cheney maintained through the interview. They gesture down by their middle or stomach; point to their heart or put their hand over their heart. Cheney did not gesture. They breathe low and deep in the abdomen... Cheney seemed to have trouble breathing. Cheney seemed emotional, but the emotions were about his pain rather than empathetic pain for his injured friend. That is even more apparent as Cheney discusses it as one of the worst days of his life. I imagine it was the single worst day of the guy he shot, his friend Harry’s life.
As he looked down and to the right he said, "Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry”. In a Rhetorical Analysis I am immediately struck by how long it took him to get to the admission. It sounds like that children’s nursery rhyme that goes;
This is the man all tattered and torn
That kissed the maiden all forlorn
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn
That tossed the dog that worried the cat
That killed the rat that ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.
Look at the limiters he used, ultimately, pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. His first and most important sentence should have been something like, "I shot Harry". Not, “I pulled the trigger, that shot the round…that milked the cow. That lay in the house that Jack Built..."
He then says again looking down and to the right, "And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line". He starts with a condition, then says. "..but that’s the bottom line." He shouldn’t have even discussed the conditions in that way. He could have made a statement of facts. That is, told the story in a factual way and said the conditions, but saying it this way made it sound like he thought the conditions were, in fact an excuse.
He had a beer at lunch, hunters should not drink. The risk is too high for accidents. Drinking affects your body language. Cheney said. "It was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else." This seems like an almost bizarre statement isolated from the factual story. And if you know hunting rules, it is always the shooter's fault. Whittington went to retrieve a bird and then walked toward Cheney without announcing his presence. But, Cheney, if he followed hunting rules, should have noted that a hunting partner is out in the shooting target range. A State Parks and Wildlife Department report concluded: "While he was out of the hunting line, another covey was flushed and Cheney swung on a bird and fired, striking Whittington," about 30 yards away. That’s incredibly close. "I turned and shot at the bird, and at that second saw Harry standing there. Didn't know he was there", Cheney said. "I saw him fall, basically. It had happened so fast."
In the Chicago Tribune yesterday, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania was quoted as saying, “… Cheney's violation of the basic rule that a hunter verify the target and what is beyond it before pulling the trigger, as well as his lack of a $7 unpaid bird stamp on his Texas hunting license."
My friend Shane was shot by a young boy who was handed a gun, and in fact held a gun for the first time on that day. The boy was given three minutes of instruction. The boy did not know how to shoot responsibly. Obviously Cheney made a lot of mistakes in his dissemination of the information about the shooting, but the true mistake, the thing that matters, is he was irresponsible in his hunting and shot his friend.
I just watched the first interview with our Vice President talking about the hunting accident. Remember the Vice President's friend was shot in the face and chest.
In law enforcement, the longer it takes for the "suspect" to come forward to talk, the higher the probability of guilt. In Public Relations, the longer the person takes to make a public announcement of the facts of an incident, the more the public believes, truly or falsely, that the person is guilty and has done something they want or feel they need to hide. And finally, in politics the public feels that a powerful figure they voted into office is responsible to the public and should give them the facts of an incident as soon as possible. Yet, the Vice President waited four days to be interviewed on the Republican leaning Fox News, rather than make a public statement immediately.
Time is a nonverbal communicator, and in this particular case involving Dick Cheney, I believe that delay communicates fear, a lack or honor, and desire to not take full responsibility for his actions. I will blog more nonverbal and rhetorical analysis of the Fox interview about the shooting later today. For now, I'm off to coach a client in public speaking.
By Patti Wood MA, CSP
The Gold Standard of Body Language Experts
I wake up with a stomach ache the day after thanksgiving. I lie in bed thinking I shouldn’t have eaten that third turkey sandwich. My stomach burns. It’s the middle of the night and the house is dark. I definitely need an antacid and need to go downstairs to get one. I get up out of bed. I consider turning on the lights, but leave them off knowing that once I turn on lights I won’t be able to go back to sleep. The ambient light from the city shinning through the windows should be enough. I take two steps down the stairs I trip. I tumble over head first and feel a horrible pain and fall the rest of the way down the stairs and land sprawled half way into the kitchen.
The pain is excruciating I start to pass out I push to stay conscious. My dog Bo appears in front of me and for the first time without a doggie treat inducement he goes into a perfect sit. I am amused but I don’t think the dog whisper uses the falling down the stairs means “Sit!” technique. I try to get up, but a wave of pain and nausea hits me again and I fight to stay conscious. Oh my god I think, “I have fallen and I can’t get UP!” I crawl on my knees and one elbow towards the phone. Moving inch by inch I reach it. My right hand is hanging twisted and limp like a rag doll and dial 911 with my left finger. The phone rings and rings, but nobody answers. I am afraid I will pass out before anyone picks up. Then I remember that my neighbor is a doctor. My frequent casseroles delivered to his bachelor pad prompted him to say if I ever needed him to call. I needed him, but I don’t know his number. I am close to the kitchen door I manage to reach up and open it and crawl outside and across the lawn to his house.
This is the beginning of my falling down the stairs adventure. An adventure, because like an explorer climbing Mt Everest learns so much about himself, about life, about what makes living important from climbing up a mountain I learned so much about my self, about life, about what makes living important from falling down the stairs.
Oddly enough the multiple trips to the emergency room, the doctor visits the, the scare that I would loose the use of my hand, the physical pain where not the source of my learning. I had certainly been to emergency rooms before, sat in doctors offices and even suffered more intense pain and longer bouts of both physical and physiological pain in my life. And I know many people would see my tumble as a mere bump in life, really not much of anything at all compared other injuries and life threatening illness.
But learning takes place when you are ready to learn and this adventure, small as it was, took place after I had spent two years of the most intensive traveling in my 25 year career. And the accidents resultant injuries caused a forced stillness and a lack of ability to work at my frantic pace. The injuries from the accident where minor, a broken wrist, torn ligaments and tendons, in both wrists, and left ankle, a bruised hip and irritated vertebra in my neck. But they made it painfully difficult to even take care of myself in the same way. So this adventure was my learning time.
It seems odd that not being able to use one hand and having limited use of the other could make everything so hard. Put those minor injuries meant I had to learn to open my dog’s dinner cans with my left elbow and chin, not eat anything frozen or packaged in plastic that required a knife or scissors to open or that I could not open with my teeth. Until, my left hand got strong enough not eats any food that had to be cut up to eat. Every thing to time. Slow focused effort and something I didn’t know I had enormous patience. Instead of talking on the phone to family or friend while fixing dinner, unloading the dishwasher and having part of mind occupied with my massive list of to do’s I could only cook. Slowly opening a drawer jiggle by jiggle with on hand. Opening the fridge carefully and painfully. Eating with a fork or spoon with my left hand each bite was an awkward and frustrating chore.
When I finally could get on the computer it was to type very very slowly and very very badly with one finger. Just answering emails took hours and the Emails became so cryptic that I am sure clients wished for secret decoder rings to decipher them. I showered slowly with one arm held up in a plastic baggie. To dry my hair. I set the dryer on the toilet and sat on the floor aiming my head towards it. I couldn’t hold a book and turn the pages. It even e hurt to change the channels on TV channel changer so I watched a single show all the way through! By the end of the day to effort to do simple little things left me bathed in sweat. But there was a gift in this.
Everything slowed down and became a meditation. After three weeks of doing things slowly one at a time, with out being able to drive, only leaving the house for speaking engagements, I felt calmer and more centered and strangely happier than I have been in a long time. This was my first lesson.
When life is frantic and faced paced. Resist the urge to do many things quickly. Do one thing at time and do it slowly and thoughtfully.
This not only gave me yoga serenity, but I lost 12 pounds!
You noticed that I said I left the house for speaking engagements. It may seem contrary that I was in all that pain and had all those limitations and I was out speaking. If you’re a speaker, or indeed a workaholic working under such circumstances probably doesn’t surprise you. Speakers have a, “The show must go on!” mentality.” Like every speaker out there I have spoken under horrible circumstances. I knew I could deal with that part of me that wanted to cry, take a pain pill, lie down and have a pity party. In fact I knew that some of the most incredible, heart wide open, speaking experience’s of my career occurred when I was suffering internally, but the audience didn’t know it and we created an incredible connection. But in these weeks, I was wrapped in a cast and sling slightly bent over and limping. My injury was visible. Would visible problems make the audience respond in ways I didn’t want? My worries started when my friends said, “Oh, your audiences will be so forgiving of your speaking; you can get away with anything.” And “Oh, lucky you, the audience will be so good to you because they will feel sorry for you.” I knew that it was not the audience’s job to give me a break. And that is not what I wanted. I was there to serve them. To be the strong expert resource and energizing force in the room. But would they let me do that? Would they listen to me and give me respect? I went off to each speech my little blonde smiling, arm in a cast, limping self, and waited to see what happened. Not only didn’t it matter to them, but they expected me to be in charge. Heck, they still let me carry my stuff, put my materials on the walls and move tables and chairs! And by the way I could have used some help moving the tables with one hand! I learned my second lesson.
People will treat you like a victim only if you choose to act like a victim.
As I started to get out in the world more. Going to the grocery store and the bank some people would notice me and ask if I needed help or just help me, other people would act like I was invisible or worse yet, a slow moving nuisance. I thought how many times I have seen people slam the door in the face of my elderly mother or pushed past my mother in an isle or restaurant and she moved awkwardly with her walker. As I recovered some of my friends where so very kind. One took me to the store, Another gave me a ride home from a speech, one brought over Chinese, and another brought bags of comfort food, another came over to open jars and empty the trash and one, went above and beyond taking me to the emergency room at 3 in the morning. Other friends where busy with their lives and some busy with their own pain. Each time someone was kind, stranger or friend, I asked myself how many times I had been kind to others. I felt so good remembering, because I knew now how good getting kindness felt. But each time someone was rude or didn’t take the time to care, I asked myself how many times I had been rude or had been to busy with my pain to show a little care and kindness. As I remembered I was ashamed. I learned a third lesson.
Notice the opportunity for a little act of kindness. No matter how busy or troubled your life is– What you give out good or bad will be returned to you.
I had a neighbor come over to cut the sleeves out of some sweatshirts for me so I had something to wear the night after the accident. (Yes the accident also gave me the gift f a new and stylish sweat shift wardrobe.) My neighbor, started to talk to me about how she knew that small acts of kindness mattered. They had mattered to her when other people helped her through her husband’s slow and painful long term illness and death. She said, that’s a long story, and I, arm propped up on pillows dog sitting on my feet, said, “I have all the time in the world. She sat down and told me her story and we hugged and cried when she was through. It was a wonderfully close and intimate moment. And I was so happy she could share her story with me.
As time passed I had so many people share their accident stories with me so my people tell about their recovery from illness. I had learned at other times in my life that your pain can make others open up to you. It happened in college when my dad died and the year my best friend was dieing. I knew that when you are at your most vulnerable people feel safe making themselves vulnerable to you. But this time I listened differently. I was not so caught up in my pain that I couldn’t hear their need. This time I revealed in it. I saw the gift that vulnerability gives you. I reveled in the opportunity to see to through the protective bravado to someone’s very heart. This was my favorite lesson.
When you are vulnerable people have the chance to open their hearts to you. Enjoy the view. Enjoy the gift of intimacy that pain can bring into your life.
Little by little I am gaining back my abilities. The first I the day I could put on my favorite post earrings after weeks of naked ears I called my sister and said, “I am now fully accessorized! Just before I got in the car to drive for the first time I called to thank my friend who had installed the knob on the steering wheel so I could drive with one hand. And I smiled the whole traffic filled ride to the store. When the cast came off and my arms where strong enough to hold a drier and a brush I looked in the mirror glad to finally have a good hair day At physical therapy last week I actually yelled, “Hurray!” when I could bend down my forefinger down and make it touch my thumb in an “OK’ sign. Recently, when my little ten year God child Morgan saw me struggle with my diner and asked, "Do you want me to cut that up for you?" I laughed with joy, grateful I could now hold a knife. And this week I can type two handed for type for short periods of time. I am so grateful to be able to write and communicate these thoughts to you. The last lesson:
Be grateful for the smallest things you can do. Be grateful for all your capabilities.
I have a feeling that very few people will take the time to read this whole article. There is so much to do and so little time….But I am grateful to those of you who did. I had a little adventure and it was a good one and I am so very grateful for it.
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional
The Body Language Expert
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As the National Spokesperson in Canada for Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion I worked with Vaseline on a touch research study. I have a few of the finding from the VICCL survey.
- In total, 1502 adults were interviewed across Canada.
- These interviews were conducted between August 2nd and August 7th, 2005.
- With a sample size of 1502, results are considered accurate to within (+ or -) 2.5 % points, 19 times out of 20.
Here are a few of the findings...
The most interesting thing in this bit is that the average Canadian spends an average of 5 minutes a day touching and an average of 35 minutes in electronic communication. Hmmmm, e-mail just is not the same as a hug.
- On average, people have 8.9 separate incidences of touching each day.
- People in Alberta touch the most (13.0), while those in the Maritimes and Quebec do so the least (7.8 each).
- Older people are the less frequently touched (between 45-54 - 7.4, between 55-64 - 5.3, and 65+ 4.4).
- Unmarried people are more likely to touch 2 or less times a day (38%), while married people touch 6 or more times a day (42%).
Daily Amount of Touch
- More than half of Canadians spend less than five minutes a day engaged in touch (61%). This is particularly true of those over the age of 55 (71%).
- The average amount of time touching is 7.4 minutes. This is consistent across the country.
- Men are more likely than women to spend less than a minute touching (37% vs. 24% respectively).
- Married people also spend more time touching (8.5 minutes vs. 5.6 minutes).
Daily Amount of TouchAverage Number of Minutes Spent on Touch / Daily Amount of Electronic Communication
- Two-thirds of Canadians spend more than 10 minutes a day on electronic communication, with one third spending more than one hour.
- 45% of people under 45 spend more than an hour a day on electronic communication.
- The average amount of time spent on electronic communication is 33.5 minutes.
- People in Alberta and B.C. spend the most time on electronic communication (an average of 40.7 and 37.3 minutes respectively).
If you want to hear more, I will be on "Breakfast Television" Canada's version of the Today Show Monday morning Feb 6 around 7:00 am talking about touch and the Vaseline Science of Touch exhibit.
He did use one emphatic hand to chest gesture in the whole speech. When he said, "I have the power (gesture) given to me by congress to decide...(on the patriot act.) The hand to the chest symbolically showed his power and that power was centered on him, and the hitting motion signaled that he would back up that power with might. You are more likely to see that gesture in old movies were they have a stereotped russion leader emphasing that he is in charge. Hummm.
I am doing speech coaching with a client all day Thursday so hope to do my blog tonight or early tommrrow morning. I'm off to get some Thai food. Yummm!
Surprise, he is still giving his habitual tongue thrusts. A tongue thrust is when someone sticks his tongue part of the way out of the mouth. Typically this is done very quickly in what is called a micro facial cue. A body language cue done so quickly you only notice it at a subconscious level. So you may feel, “Humm, he seems aggressive, but I don’t know why.”
Bush has a habit of giving slow, definite tongue thrusts after making a comment he is uncomfortable with. I have to be very objective about my reads when I am being interviewed by the media, but hey, this is a blog. I believe he does it to gear himself up and feel more confident. He does not give tongue thrusts when he talks about Iraq or war or attacking. In reading Bush, it is clear to me he is most comfortable when he is aggressive. For a detailed interpretation of the state of the union address two years ago, see go here . I will be watching more of last night's address and blogging about it. Of course, that means I have to watch the speech over and over, so pray for me.