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10/25/2013

Do You Mean It? Three Things to Monitor to Build Authenticity and Believability in Your Communications

IStock_000015629440_webYou have probably observed an actor on screen or on stage whose performance was simply not believable.  You could not buy-in to the scene or the script, and were perhaps even distracted by the actor.  On the other hand, you have probably been moved by an actor that was so good that they seemed to literally pull you into the performance.

Guess what?  Everyone around you has the same reaction to your communication skills.  Are you believable...authentic...transparent?  Can they trust you?  Follow you?  Often times, the way they make those judgments are not by the words you use, but through all of your non-verbal cues. Stated another way, does your body language match your message?  For example, you tell your team that "I am really excited about this new project and its implications" while you sit back in your chair with your arms crossed, talking quietly.  Are you believable...authentic?  No.

Here are three things that you (just like an actor) need to monitor as you are communicating with others:

  1. Body.  What is your body doing?  Is it sitting back (disinterested) or forward (engaged)?  Are you crossing your arms (bored, apathetic, arrogant)?  Or open?  Are you pacing (nervous)?  Moving your limbs around a lot (confused, unsure of yourself)?
  2. Voice.  What is the inflection and volume of your voice?  Are you talking softly (uninspired, thoughtful) or louder (engaged, emotional, passionate)?  Monotone (bored, uninspiring) or with varied expression (interested, authentic, passionate, authority)?
  3. Face.  Are you maintaining eye contact (telling the truth, interested) or looking away (not trustworthy, disinterested)?  Do you have bland facial expressions or varied expressions that match your intent?

Those are the tip of the iceberg.  The key point is that you shouldn't do some of these things.  It is appropriate at times to speak louder or softer.  The key point is that your body language needs to match your message to be seen as authentic and believable.  Many times it doesn't, not necessarily because our intent is not good, but because we get into ruts.  For example, we always speak the same way, we lean back all the time, or we consistently cross our arms.

How you communicate has a tremendous impact on your life and career.  Ask a couple of trusted people what your body language is conveying to them.  Chances are that your "performance" could be improved by fixing a couple of simple things of which you are probably not even aware.


 
 


 

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