Everyone knows something about body language and how it impacts the way that people perceive us.
We all know a firm handshake is good, eye contact relays confidence and smiling makes us more likeable.
But did you know your body language has a scientifically proven impact on your own body and your emotions?
By adopting certain postures for only 2 minutes, such as the wonder woman pose here, you can make yourself feel more powerful and confident… a very useful tip when you are preparing for a high pressure situation such as a difficult meeting or an important sales pitch.
By Changing your Body Chemistry ….
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School Professor and social psychologist, is known for her interest in emotions, power, nonverbal behaviour, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels.
During her research into social stimuli and hormones Amy proved that certain body postures that she calls ‘Power Poses’ can immediately change your body chemistry, which in turn changes your emotional state.
They tend to have higher testosterone levels which are associated with power and dominance, and lower cortisol levels which indicate decreased anxiety and a better ability to deal with stress.
Levels of both of these hormones can change rapidly depending on the social, physical and environmental cues around you. If you are in a situation that makes you feel anxious or less then confident (ie. a difficult meeting or an important pitch), you can counter that by changing your body posture. This will in turn change your testosterone and cortisol levels which will change your emotional state.
To increase your testosterone and reduce your cortisol Amy suggests 2 minutes in a high Power Pose.
This involves opening up your body, stretching and expanding it as much as possible. Basically you are making yourself appear bigger – think Mick Jagger strutting on stage!
If you need to feel more confident we suggest adopting a high power pose for 2 minutes (ideally before your meeting and not whilst in it!) to help your body to create the right balance of testosterone and cortisol to help you to feel more powerful and relaxed.
If you continue to use power body language in your meeting or pitch (see the picture at the end of this post for examples) you will positively impact how others perceive you too.
It is also useful to be aware of your posture so that you avoid ‘low power’ poses, where you are hunched or making yourself smaller (look down at your notes or slouching in your chair).
Below are some examples of high power poses with the associated low power pose underneath to avoid.
Amy’s TED talk on how your body language shapes who you are is one of the most popular talks of all time is and definitely worth the 20 minutes to watch if you haven’t seen it
A recent survey asking what entrepreneurs fear most about selling revealed some very common fears that I think apply or have applied to most people at some point in their careers. The ability to sell is a skill that everyone in business needs to master, but a surprising number of entrepreneurs find it a challenge.
In the survey carried out by Business2Community.com, the top fears that were on the mind of many respondents were:
• Being seen as too pushy
• Not being able to get the prospect to see the value in their product/service
• Getting rejected because of price
• Having difficulty starting the sales conversation
Do any of those sound familiar to you? I bet they do. So what can you do if you are suffering from any of these fears right now?
Being seen as too pushy
One of our favourite sayings is “very few of us like being sold to but everyone is open to influence”. We all know when someone is trying to sell to us, and most people find this off putting, feeling the salesperson is more interested in the sale than in meeting their particular needs. However most of us are not aware when we are being influenced. One useful technique is to use the concept of pace-pace-lead as a subtle way of gently initiating a sales conversation. It involves questioning and carefully listening to understand the prospects real needs, seeing the problem from their point of view, acknowledging their problem and showing that you understand it, and then adding insight and value to illustrate how you can help them solve that problem.
Communicating product/service value
If you have asked the right questions and listened carefully, you will understand the details of the prospect’s problem and how you can truly add value. But quite often we can be busy thinking about what we are going to say next, or how we can jump in and illustrate why they should buy from us, without taking the time to listen and build a connection with that person. If you change your mindset away from selling and think instead about how you can help someone then you will naturally want to listen, to empathise and you will communicate the value more naturally.
Getting rejected because of price
If you have communicated the value effectively through questioning and active listening, then you have also had an opportunity to qualify the prospect and get an idea of how likely they are to buy from you. Remember you also need to take the time to establish your credibility, and to build up trust. If you have done all of this then price shouldn’t be an issue. Remember that objections are really a request for more information and are an opportunity to show again the value of your product or service, so don’t be put off by them. However, if you are rejected, take the time to think through what happened during the sales conversation and use this as an opportunity to learn and improve and perhaps try doing things slightly differently next time.
Difficulty starting conversation
If you have difficulty in starting a sales conversation then it might be that you are over-thinking things. It’s a good idea to start by asking questions to see if that can naturally lead into a sales conversation. If you still find it hard then consider if perhaps it might be a question of belief – that you don’t fully believe in yourself or your product/service. If this might be the case then you can work on reminding yourself of the best work you have done, and the positive feedback you have had from customers and clients.
The ability to sell is something that we all have within us – whether you are an extrovert of introvert, you can find your authentic sales approach and what works for you. But the fundamental fact is that you can’t build a thriving business if you can’t get people to do what you want and buy from you. Fortunately selling is an easily learnable skill once you take the time to think about what is holding you back.
So here are our top tips on how to ensure that it goes as well as it can, and that both parties feel positive afterwards:
The key is in planning and preparation
- Consider what you plan to say and ensure you have objective and specific feedback or information
- Consider the outcome that you want and make it specific and achievable
- Think carefully about how the other person may feel about the conversation. If they are likely to feel uncomfortable about it what can you say to frame the conversation to minimise these feelings?
- Start with a safely statement if this is appropriate. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person – what might they think this conversation is about? Some people can mistakenly think that your feedback on one issue is actually much more than that and it calls into question lots of things they do. If you feel this might be the case construct a statement that explains what this conversation is not about before stating what it is about. For example “I have been really pleased with your work ethic and focus (possible concerns in the other person’s mind) and just want to talk about one aspect of how you write the monthly reports that I think can really make a positive difference.”
- Give objectives and specific feedback – take the emotion out and focus on the facts
- Give a clear message – resist the urge to wrap the message up in so much cotton wool that the other person doesn’t really hear the message that you want to give them
- If possible, ask questions after making a point or giving feedback to encourage the other person to contribute. This is especially important in coming to an action plan – ideally this would be co-created with them.
- Be aware of assumptions – these are dangerous. Try to ensure that you a) listen for facts, and b) report on facts
- Avoid using subjective, judgemental or emotive language.
We ran a survey recently, and having difficult conversations was one area that participants didn’t feel confident about handling well, so we hope this helps. Do you have any experiences to share?
When you are in a sales situation one of the most important things to do is to appear credible, and asking intelligent and thoughtful questions is a great way to demonstrate and build your credibility. Asking questions promotes thought in the other person – particularly if the questions you ask are open (cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’) and come from a state of curiosity.
When planning your questions, think about what you can ask early on in the conversation or presentation that will cause the other person to really think. Asking a question that causes thought, directs attention or encourages the other person to question their perspective can all build your credibility, providing the question is authentic (or sincere) and not simply designed to lead the other person.
Here are some ideas on devising your questions:
- Plan your questions. By planning your questions you increase the chance of asking something that really resonates with the other person. Being curious and brainstorming possible questions with a colleague will also help.
- Ensure it is authentic. Resist asking a question simply to lead the other person to your point of view. This is often ‘obvious’ to the other person and can come across as manipulative
- Leave silence. Once you have asked a good open question, resist the urge to dive into the silence that follows (which often results in you giving the other person a multiple choice answer for them to pick!) and be comfortable with the silence. Silence is a sign that the other person is truly considering your question and giving it thought
- Using framing. Make a question ‘safe’ or prepare the other person to answer it. Framing is a technique where you give an explanation for why you are asking the question before you ask it. This gives the listener the context and reason for the question along with a little time to think making it easier for them to answer. For example, instead of asking: “what has led you to that conclusion?” in a situation where the question might be taken negatively, you could frame it as follows: “In order to understand your thinking so I can give you what you need (this is the frame), could you explain what has led you to that conclusion?”
You can find out much more about how to build your credibility in The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide, available on Amazon. It teaches our simple Influence Model that will enable you to be more confident, more credible and connect more easily with your sales prospects.
We got this interesting and insightful email from Nikki Owen, a leading expert on charisma who we have worked with in the past. It clearly shows just how important body language is when you are trying to influence people, and just how much it can reveal about you that is sensed subconsciously by those you are trying to influence. Whether you are a sales professional, a leader, or a politician, your body language is key to how you are perceived…. and impacts your ability to influence.
Check out what Nikki makes of the Labour leadership contenders below. It will be fascinating to see if she is right!
Labour Leadership Contest And The Charisma Factor
The voting process for Labour’s leadership contest will close on the day that my book, Charismatic to the Core is released on Thursday 10 September 2015. There is no such thing as coincidence so I felt compelled to look at the impact of charisma on political election success. Four candidates were successfully nominated to stand in the election: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall.
In his blog It’s Charisma, Stupid, Paul Graham, US political commentator has a theory that in US presidential elections, the more charismatic candidate wins. He states that people who write about politics, whether on the left or right, have a consistent bias: they take politics seriously. When one candidate beats another they look for political explanations, when in fact, people simply vote for the candidate that seems more dynamic – the one that wants the job more. Looking back over every presidential election since TV became widespread, the apparently more charismatic candidate has won.
Graham goes on to observe that voters’ opinions on political issues have lined up with charisma on 11 elections in a row. Whilst many political commentators would appear to abhor the idea that a contest as important as the US election could be decided on something as ‘superficial’ as a candidate’s charismatic presence, I for one choose to believe that factors such as trust, authenticity, and the ability to fire the imagination of a country are all perfectly valid reasons why the more charismatic candidate should prevail. Most of us would choose to follow a leader that we sensed was more able to empathise with us – and communicate from their heart rather than their head – rather than rely on cold, hard analysis and logic.
Research by The University of Lausanne and published in Harvard Business Review in June 2012, concluded: ‘the most effective leaders layer charismatic leadership on top of transactional and instrumental leadership to achieve their goals.’
So here are my thoughts and observations on how the four Labour candidates are shaping up on the charisma front. I have ignored the content and policies communicated during their speeches and interviews and instead have focused simply on their charisma, based on their physical presence, what I’ve noticed about their physical body and their energy.
Andy’s head juts out in front of his body indicating his focus and drive. His energy conveys that he is very ambitious and a man with a clear vision. His calm and measured style of delivery is diluted by some insecurity that I feel is down to a need to convey that he is the man for the job rather than his belief in himself. By trying to get it right he loses some of his earthy authenticity.
I find myself liking this man. Many of his words used in his ‘Andy4labour’ speech are heart and emotion orientated and my sense is that he is naturally a little more logically orientated so some of his speech seems a little incongruent particularly towards the end.
Apart from some subtle swaying he is centred and there is an aura of trust and plausibility about him. Everything about him says that he is a ‘safe pair of hands’. Yet I find myself wondering about his ability to inspire and arouse the level of followship needed to lead Labour to victory in the next general election. My suggestion to Andy is to let go of some of the mental constraints he is imposing upon himself and just accept that when he is being himself he is much more inspirational.
Yvette’s passion is evident and she thinks at a supersonic speed. She breaths from her upper chest which enables her to talk very quickly. Her intensity could be intimidating for some people but she softens this by being very emotionally connected and is able to build rapport well. I sense that Yvette has high levels of anger and frustration. Her eye contact is incisive and I’ve noticed she sometimes suffers from an outbreak of spots, (spots from a metaphysical perspective suggest ‘anger erupting’).
The left side of the brain is more logical and denotes masculine energy and operates the right side of the body. Yvette’s right shoulder is raised slightly higher than her left shoulder indicating that being female in a male dominated environment has been challenging. She appears sharp, fiery and passionate with a steely determination. She blends these strong attributes with techniques to build empathy.
I find myself feeling inspired by Yvette, she stirs my emotions. Sometimes when she is doing her ’empathy’ piece I feel she is not being completely genuine. My tip for Yvette to help her with this, is to pay a bit more attention to her breathing and take deeper breaths before her appearances. This will naturally build her sensory awareness and connectedness with others.
What you see is what you get with Jeremy. This man is utterly authentic and the idea that he would do anything just to please voters is a ludicrous notion. His eyes hold the same intensity as Yvette Cooper’s eyes and to me they convey that injustice causes a deep rage within him. Jeremy speaks the truth he feels in his heart. Being true to himself is such a part of his character that he has become used to other people’s intolerances and judgements.
Look at his shoulders and you can see that his responsibilities weigh on him heavily. His shoulders are tense and his metaphorical burdens have pushed his head forwards. This man is resilient, tough and uncompromising yet he has a surprising level of sensitivity that is an unusual combination and very compelling.
There is an aura of sadness, old sadness, around him as if he hasn’t come to terms with the way he sees political injustice played out around the world. When he speaks in public to large groups he stirs emotion because he speaks freely and openly without constrain from his heart. I completely understand why this man has become a forerunner in this election contest.
I imagine that Jeremy doesn’t really do collaboration if it means compromising his beliefs and views. This man is like Marmite, people will either love or hate him. My suggestion to Jeremy is a bit strange. I believe that he would benefit from some type of daily meditation that will help him to remain more detached when exposed to opposing viewpoints so he is better equipped to build rather than sabotage bridges with those not aligned with his own political views.
I personally find Liz uncomfortable to watch. She appears vulnerable due to her very shallow breathing. This creates an energy of anxiety and her voice lacks resonance and consequently she lacks gravitas. She compensates these inner insecurities by being overly forceful and a bit patronising at times. She uses too much rhetoric and is more focused on making her point rather that listening to or fully appreciating the question. She is clearly very articulate and bright yet she has not yet attained a sense of being comfortable in her own skin in front of a camera.
There is a heaviness under her eyes. This is where the stomach meridian is located and we usually hold anxiety and old fear in our stomach area. I have not viewed any footage of Liz where she appears relaxed and comfortable. Consequently anyone watching Liz is likely to struggle to feel relaxed and comfortable. Maybe this is the reason why most of her communication is based on her intellectual prowess rather than an emotional orientation. As a result Liz may find it hard to build engagement, inspire followship and motivate people to vote.
It feels that it’s too soon for Liz to be a credible candidate yet she does have a gentle radiance within her that if nurtured has the potential to become very compelling. My suggestion to Liz is to find an accredited practitioner in Emotional Freedom Techniques to release and clear some of her insecurities so we can see more of the essence of who Liz really is at her core.
So in terms of their charisma (remember I’ve completely ignored their views) here is my verdict. I have rated the candidates from the most charismatic to least charismatic:
1. Jeremy Corbyn
2. Yvette Cooper
3. Andy Burnham
4. Liz Kendall
Good luck to all four candidates, these are interesting times for British politics.
In whatever we do, whether it is delivering training, writing books or speaking, Tom and I are fundamentally, at the most simple level, helping people to reach their potential. That is why we love doing what we do.
As we both work with hundreds of people over the course of a year the one thing we constantly find is that the biggest issue getting in the way of an individual developing in order to reach their potential is their mindset.
You have to have the right mindset for success in whatever situation you are in, and mindset is an attitude, which is quite different from character which is made up of your personal qualities.
Mindset and Influence
The skill of influencing is actually very simple. The techniques, the knowledge, everything that you might need to know about how to influence effectively is very straight forward. But if you have a negative view about your ability to influence somebody, it’s going to come out in your behaviours.
So maybe as a small business owner you might be seeking to influence somebody in a corporate organisation and you are feeling slightly less confident than usual, or as a manager you are seeking to influence a subordinate that in the past has been a little bit difficult in terms of the relationship.
This lack of confidence about the situation will have an impact on your mindset, so that when you go into that conversation your mindset will encourage certain behaviours, and those behaviours will determine your results
Presenting with Influence
Let’s consider as an example somebody in a medium sized business, perhaps a manager who has got a few people under them but they’ve now got this opportunity to speak at a conference. Fear of public speaking is right up there in the top ten fears that the people hold. They may have all the knowledge in the world, they might have a really compelling point of view, and the audience could be 50 people, 100 people, and riveted around this subject matter. But if that manager in that situation of giving a presentation feels a lack of confidence or situational confidence, that will have an impact. To be more effective at influencing that group the manager just needs to be more confident in that moment of influence.
And you can make people more confident. There are lots of techniques that are very straight forward, very well proven, there is a lot of science behind it, and they will allow people to become more confident in the moment. So that’s not about character. In fact we would suggest, if you are going to be presenting to a group, that’s about being more of yourself. But you have got to be confident to deliver the message.
In this presenting situation, when mindset is an issue, the reason it negatively impacts so often is because people don’t realise that they’ve got this negative mindset. They have this feeling of anxiety, this feeling of nerves or discomfort, but they don’t name it, they don’t put their awareness on it. And if you are not aware of something you can’t change it.
And it’s no good them saying, “well look, I’m really nervous about giving this presentation” and us saying “well just be really confident about it”, that won’t work. But if you can understand what is getting in the way in terms of mindset, you can then choose to focus on something that can also be true but is perhaps more helpful.
So rather than going into that presentation thinking ” oh I’m going to mess it up, it’s not something I want to do”, if you are aware of how you are thinking you could go in with the attitude of “I’ve got a message that I know would be really valuable to this group”. If you go in with that at the front of your mind, you are going to do a better job and you are going to be more confident in your delivery.
A lot of what we do is about helping people understand what they believe to be true about a situation – their mindset. What is the mindset that you need if you are going to be effective in any influencing situation? Well typically, that’s the mindset of confidence.
Have you been in situations where you know your mindset has impacted your outcome? We would love to hear about it.
We were very excited to hold our first webinar Masterclass recently on High Stakes Influencing.
It was hosted by James Lavers, internet entrepreneur and former producer to Tony Robbins, renowned US motivational speaker. We talked to James about our business journey and how we have used ‘high stakes’ influencing to build our two businesses to generate six-figure incomes.
By ‘high stakes’ we mean those situations where the outcome is really important to your business – usually around sales or business development activities.
During the Masterclass we talked in detail about selling, pitching, presenting and negotiating. We explained how we used C-cubed Influence in these ‘high stakes’ influencing situations to make a real step change in our businesses and cross a threshold to get more higher-paying clients.
We are passionate about sharing what we teach our corporate clients with small businesses and entrepreneurs, as we know the massive impact C-cubed Influence can have. That is why our corporate clients pay over £6k a day to have both of us work with them. They know that the benefits of having highly effective influencers in their teams are well worth the investment, and they know that they will reap the rewards many times over.
During the Masterclass we shared some of the C-cubed Influence techniques we use and in case you missed it here it is again for a limited time only:
We do a lot of work with individuals in sales and business development functions. We find we are often asked by managers to ‘clone’ the highly successful individuals: to teach a group how to become like someone who is held up as an exemplar. But this is a dangerous request and in our experience it just doesn’t work.
People are individuals and trying to clone someone who is highly successful and tell others that this is how they need to be implies they need to change their personality. But influence is not something that can be easily detached from personality.
Our definition of influence is to ‘produce an effect on an individual or group by imperceptible or intangible means’. It’s about being a compelling force to produce an effect on the behaviours, actions and opinions of others. At its simplest, influencing is about putting your point of view across in a compelling way that motivates another person, or group, to take the action you desire. The root of the word influence comes from the medieval English word ‘influent’ meaning to ‘flow in’. So influence is about a flow rather than simply something you ‘do’ to someone.
In most situations that you will encounter, influencing is subtle. It takes place outside of conscious awareness and is a combination of what you communicate and how you communicate it- verbally and non-verbally. You might want them to:
- take a certain decision
- buy a product or service
- agree with and commit to a course of action
- simply to hear your point of view.
You will be using your voice, body language, and the power of language to either create a compelling message – or one that falls on deaf ears.
Whilst some people seem naturally and easily able to influence, it is a skill that can be learned by paying attention to, and developing, the right things and by putting your awareness on your current preferences in how you influence, so that you can be more flexible in how you communicate with different people.
We created our C3 Model of Influencing™ to give you the framework to do just that. What’s more, it’s based on research and has been proven to be effective in a wide variety of influencing contexts and situations.
The C3 Model of Influencing™ Field Guide is available on Amazon.
Brilliant Salespeople ensure that they make time to plan their meetings in order to maximise the chance of achieving their objectives from them. This planning often takes little time but can make a significant difference. We know of lots of salespeople who do not plan in this area- who turn up and ‘wing it’. For the small investment in planning, they could dramatically improve their outcome.
• Research the prospect e.g. use the internet
• Set an agenda for the meeting
• Plan your key questions
• Think about who should be there
• Plan you own outcomes – what do you want to achieve?
• Think about what it is the prospect needs to know
• To bring greater empathy, put yourself in the prospect’s shoes
• What questions may come up? How will you address them?
• Plan how you will make your points clear and compelling
• If presenting with others, who will do what? When is it best to handover? How to manage handovers?
Internal sales meetings
• Look at, and action if appropriate, the minutes from the previous meeting
• Think about issues on the agenda so that you can contribute
• Understand what is expected of you in the meeting
• Do the necessary preparation
Do you plan and prepare before all of your sales meetings? If so, do you have anything to add to our list?
The focus of transactional selling is finding prospects with a requirement to develop relationships, focus on features and benefits and to take orders for desired products at an acceptable price for all parties. The customers have a clear need for a ‘standard’ product or service and will be interested in sources that can provide it at the right time and at an reasonable price.
Consultative (or solution. relationship) Selling
In consultative, solution or relationship selling (all synonyms), the salesperson develops a greater understanding of the challenges faced by the customer and there is likely to be a tailored solution. Communicating features and positioning statements become less important, whilst questioning and listening becomes more important.
The actual purchase decision is often managed through a proposal, contract negotiation and solution delivery. The consultative selling approach is much more common nowadays and is most appropriate for businesses that offer a transformational product or service, such as consulting or specialised items.
To quote Neil Rackham, English writer and speaker on sales and marketing:
‘Too many salespeople are “talking brochures”, trying to show customers how their products or services are better than competitors. Salespeople must become value creators.’
Do you agree with what Neil says? You can download the comparison table Transactional vs Consultative Selling here.