Sitting at dinner in London, it’s obvious that the woman at my one o’clock is ready to go…
Dilated pupils, twirling her hair, playing with her necklace, stabbing her straw into her drink, she’s parading the most obvious signs of attraction, but her date has no idea.
She’d be embarrassed if she knew everyone in the room could tell what she was thinking, but fortunately, the rest of the room is as unaware as she and he are.
An entire conversation is playing out in front of me that nobody else can “hear.”
Stop Talking To Me
Walking into a top law firm I passed a man and a woman sitting in an office.
The man was sitting in his power pose, behind his big mahogany desk. The woman on the other side was squirming, every aspect of her body language saying, “get away from me.”
As the man kept talking, she kept leaning further back, her arms and legs twisted tighter and tighter like a pretzel, indicating (not definitively) that she didn’t want to hear what he was saying.
The man, in his mid-fifties, who presumably learned to speak five decades ago, still hadn’t learned how to communicate!
Your Words Are Mostly Meaningless
Us humans mostly associate communications with the words that are coming out of our mouths.
But, unfortunately, as anyone who has studied communications and influence knows, our words are only a tiny fraction of the message we are conveying.
It is said that only 7% of our message is the words we use—some 38% of our message is conveyed in our voice quality (tone, pace, etc.) but the bulk is delivered through what our body is saying.
Now, while I wouldn’t stand behind those statistics as absolute, they are certainly directionally correct because it fits with the way our brains process information.
You Can Only Remember 5-9 Things
At any point in time, us humans can focus on about 5-9 bits of information.
Hence, most of us could quickly remember a phone number or a short shopping list, but not much beyond that.
This means that the number of things we can pay attention to at any one point in time is very limited.
Conversely, our unconscious mind (a metaphor for the part of us that is breathing, pumping blood, etc.) is constantly scanning our environment, at any point in time processing somewhere between 2 million to 2 billion bits of information!
Think about that for a moment. Astonishing, isn’t it?
That at any point during our days, we “think” we are aware of what’s going on. In any conversation, we’re listening and speaking, and think we are communicating.
But, in fact, most of what is going on around us is happening outside of our conscious awareness…
Until We Make It Conscious
I’ve been working with a “mechanic” who has been altering the way I use the body.
Over years of poor posture and pushing myself too hard working out the wrong ways, I had created structural problems that he has now mostly corrected.
For years I simply carried the body the wrong way, and anyone like me who is wearing out the rear corner soles of their shoes is doing the same too!
While I was unconsciously incompetent at this, I had no idea what I was doing wrong. But now after only a couple months of building this awareness, it’s easy to see and feel.
Before him I had no idea what was going on. Now I know, and can actually influence it.
For some six years one of my clients has been mastering influence in the context of selling.
Over a long period of time he’s built his skills methodically to the point where, today, he can feel the room—he just knows when the prospect is ready to buy, and most importantly, when they are not.
What specific signals tell him that he might not consciously know (he can only think of 5-9 things), but that other part of him is reading everything, and passing on what he needs to know.
Another client spends a lot of time negotiating, and is constantly reading and utilizing non-verbal communications.
A shift in seating position. A slight change in voice tonality. A flush of the skin. He can easily tell when the dynamics change, and he uses it!
Through learning these skills of invisible influence that MOST PEOPLE DON’T EVEN KNOW EXIST, he consistently has the upper hand.
It’s like wrestling a child, if that had any challenge to it. It’s like mind-reading, if only mind-reading was so obvious.
How Can You Explore This?
I will say, this is one of the most fascinating and valuable skills that I have trained.
Hidden in plain sight, we all know that our bodies reflect our minds (e.g. get embarrassed and you turn beet red), but nobody ever educates us on it.
We live in a world of noise with people constantly out talking each other, yet only a small percent of people actually know how little those words matter to influence.
And even most people who do know haven’t learned how to use that information to their advantage.
There are massive benefits from even venturing just a little into this topic, which you can do by reading one of my favorite books on it, former FBI profiler, Joe Navarro’s book, What Every BODY is Saying.
If you already know this topic somewhat and want to take it to an entirely new level, then I suggest exploring the realms of unconscious influence, conversational hypnosis and NLP.