Our bodies talk. Constantly. Even when we’re blissfully unaware of it. “We cannot NOT communicate,” these are the wise words of communication researcher Paul Watzlawick. “The body is the biggest tell-tale,” says Samy Molcho with a wink – and he should know: a renowned body-language expert, he was the first to enhance the art of mime to include purely psychological and dramatic elements. The body talks by means of our facial expressions and gestures, our posture, our interpersonal movements and touches, and our spatial relationships (such as proximity or distance) to or from our counterpart. Our bodies reveal a lot about what we’re really thinking and feeling.
When our non-verbal signals match what we say, the overall picture is coherent, creating authenticity, credibility and trust. In sales meetings with clients or as a manager of people, this is hugely important for the success of the meeting and thus for the company’s economic wellbeing.
The language of the body is universal and can overcome linguistic barriers. Our bodies are able to express things that our words cannot convey, which is why we should never underestimate the signals our bodies send out and pay close attention to them. After all, these are crucial for the development and formation of relationships: They can foster respect, arouse sympathy, gain trust and win people over – but they can also ruin everything. As Samy Molcho rightly says: “The body never lies.” Some studies even conclude that body language accounts for up to 80 per cent of our communicative impact, making the spoken word almost insignificant. It is in face-to-face conversation that body language has the greatest impact.
The first “mindstep”: inner and outer demeanour
Since, for the most part, our body language is a subconscious form of expression, it is all the more important that we pay close attention to it. It is crucial to ensuring we enjoy successful relationships with our fellow human beings, our customers, colleagues, etc. and therefore determines a company’s commercial success. That’s why this topic forms the first “mindstep” in my sales training.
In the tango, too, posture is crucial to fostering dignified and upstanding relationships with other people. The ability to perceive oneself, one’s feelings, state of mind and physicality is the prerequisite for perception of one’s counterpart. So let’s take a look at where we are now and thus become fully aware of our own selves:
What is my mental state?
What thoughts are going through my head and are they good or bad?
Am I focused or absent-minded?
Am I well prepared in terms of substance?
How do I feel emotionally?
What feelings are inside me?
How attentive and empathetic am I with myself?
Deep down, am I smiling or shedding a tear?
How do I feel physically?
Can I feel any tension or pain? Am I relaxed?
How is my heartbeat: strong, anxious or calm?
Do I feel like I’m attractive or am I insecure?
Is my style of clothing adequate?
How does my voice sound?
Low, high, agitated, or calm and relaxed?
Am I familiar with the subject-area jargon?
Can I adapt my language or my voice individually to the client?
Studies show that around one in ten people has difficulty perceiving their own feelings and describing them in words. It is therefore all the more important to keep practising and apply the necessary heightened awareness to better understand yourself.
The goal now is to use various methods (power posing, meditation, etc.) to go from where we are now to reach a stable level that is where we want to be:
On a mental level
My posture is confident.
My thoughts are flowing and uninhibited.
I am attentive, receptive and open to new things and to hearing what my counterpart has to say.
On an emotional level
My emotions are balanced and are flowing evenly and deeply.
My gaze is empathetic and open.
My feelings are reflected in my facial expressions (smiling) and gestures (relaxed posture).
On a physical level
My posture is straight and upright, standing firm, breathing is even and deep (belly breaths), gestures are dynamic but moderate and close to the body.
On a verbal level
My tongue is relaxed in my mouth and my mouth is relaxed.
I know my own voice and am aware of it: it is calm, firm and deep.
My voice is ready to speak slowly, clearly and consciously.
Only when we have inner and outer equilibrium and, have therefore found our axis, are we able to carry out a successful sales meeting. The task, therefore, is to be aware of our own posture and our mental and emotional demeanour. That means being observant, attentive and empathetic with oneself. To help you achieve this, there are some very good mindfulness exercises which – if practised and applied daily – help us to achieve balance. Short, quick meditations also make for a useful aid. This is my favourite: “A river of love flows through my veins: I am well prepared, I am happy, I am satisfied. My body feels good, my heart is beating calmly, I feel my own strength, my posture is receptive. And on my face, a smile breaks out. My gestures are receptive and calm. I am ready for a positive encounter.”