By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you more fully communicate without words.
Jimmy Stewart passionately kisses Donna Reed in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The producer and the camera crew were thrilled with the scene. But the scriptwriter had a major concern, complaining the actors left out a whole page of dialogue. Frank Capra, the director, responded: “With technique like that who needs dialogue? Print it!”
How’s your technique? No, not for kissing. For leading — with your body language.
Sure, you know only too well that well-worn bromide that actions always speak louder than words.
But the most effective that leaders I’ve met ALSO KNOW how powerful their smile can be in leveraging their face value in particular and their body language in general. They know a smile, the only thing you can’t break by cracking, can soothe as good as many a medicine.
At least many injured soldiers thought so.
Imagine a hospital scene with four MILES of beds to accommodate 1800 injured soldiers. Florence Nightingale and her staff of 43 nurses administered smiles as much as medicine to those injured. One soldier wrote: “She would speak to one and nod and smile to many more. We lay there by the hundreds. But we could kiss her shadow as it fell and lay our heads as the pillow against it, content.”
Florence Nightingale leveraged her face value– her smile — to affect even more people that she could personally attend to. You don’t have to be a Florence Nightingale to leverage your face value in the workplace. But you do have to be aware of the tool all leaders wield–their body language — to affect the behavior of others, to affect the well-being of others, to effective the productivity of the others.
Leaders, leveraging their face value, embrace the power in their body language Shakespeare observed in “Troilus and Cressida (Act IV, Scene V) :
There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip. Nay, her foot speaks
“There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip. Nay, her foot speaks, her wanton spirits look out at every joint and motive of her body.” Leaders, leveraging their face value, recognize the power in their 46 different facial movement that can register at least seven different emotions ( anger, fear, contempt, disgust, sadness, surprise and happiness), according to researchers.
Abraham Lincoln was especially concerned about one aspect of his body language — his handwriting — when he was about to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. The President said his right arm felt almost paralyzed from shaking so many hands earlier that day.
“If my hand trembles when I sign the Proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say: He hesitated,” Lincoln told the Secretary of State who had brought the document to the White House for his signature. Lincoln forced himself to fight off the pain and signed the document freeing the slaves with strength and conviction.
Your Opponents Are Watching Your Body Language
Are you watching your body language? You can be sure your opponents/competitors are, as President Lincoln noted. And some of the most astute of your opponents./competitors are even using your body language to take advantage of you.
Consider Sir Walter Scott. As a schoolboy he always lost debates to a particular student. One day he noticed that his rival always fumbled with a particular button on his vest as he spoke. The next time the two debated Scott found a way to remove the button from his competitor’s vest before he spoke. During the debate, the more his rival fumbled for the missing button, the more he fumbled for words. And Sir Walter Scott won the debate, leveraging his body language as much as his debate language skills.
Use your body language to communicate more fully than your words to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Body Language:
Speaking Meanfully Without Words
Public Speaking in a Bathrobe and Beyond
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