Archive for December, 2015

7 Top Secrets Of Persuasion

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

FBI counterintelligence agents, such as myself, recruit foreign spies to work for the U.S. government. It’s not that we are selling anything; instead, we are using persuasion to make our point. Very often, we are successful.

7 Top Secrets Of Persuasion

You may never find yourself in a situation where you’ll be confronted with a Russian spy trying to steal classified information, and chances are even slimmer that you’ll be asked to recruit him to work for our side, but there will be times that you will absolutely need to make your point. 

Persuasion is not just for spies, salespeople, and teenagers.

As entrepreneurs and business owners, you may need to persuade an investor to take a closer look at your proposal, get assistance at work, or persuade employees to perform better. The truth is, we’re all negotiators.

I took FBI hostage negotiation training at Quantico, and the first thing I learned is that persuasion techniques not only work with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles—they apply to any form of disagreement or any situation where you need someone else to see your point of view.

Persuasion is about far more than argument and counter-argument.

Here are 7 top secrets of persuasion and tips on how to counter them:

1. Be Bold And Assertive

Humans equate confidence with skill. If you come across as confident, even the most cynical person will be at least partly persuaded.

The key is to stop using qualifiers like “I think” or “I believe.” Instead, if you think something will work, just say it.

Let your enthusiasm and confidence show through and people will be more likely to be persuaded.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Resistance is easiest when we feel sharp and alert. That is when we’re in a better position to raise a counter-argument, maintain our position, and spot persuasion attempts coming our way.

2. Inoculation Slowly Bleeds You Dry

Medical inoculations work by giving you a little of the disease so that your body can prepare itself for attack in the future.

Psychological inoculation works the same way.

Propose an idea that takes on a new angle that people haven’t thought of before. Then, introduce an alternative approach or solution that is a bit closer to their way of thinking. Chances are very good that people will jump at the alternative, even though it would have been immediately dismissed if introduced before the first one.

This is how ex-spouses, hostage negotiators, and politicians extort us everyday with persuasive arguments. In the end, we grab the alternative and think we’ve struck a good deal.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Expose yourself to different types of arguments and positions you will likely come across. When you know what’s coming, it’s easier to psychologically prepare yourself. Be wary of the same old argument presented in a slightly different way.

3. Come Across As An Expert With Authority

Make sure your credentials are solid. Research has shown that we defer to those who appear to have authority. If you don’t have the heft to make a persuasive argument, align yourself with someone who does.

People don’t often second guess or question someone who makes a recommendation if they believe the individual is either an expert or someone with authority.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Be extremely wary of anyone who relies entirely on authority to influence you.

4. Validate What The Other Person Says

This may sound counterintuitive, but if you don’t let the other party have their say, you can talk until you’re blue in the face and they will not have heard a word you said. Instead of listening to you, they were forming their own counter-argument in the mind.

The best way to quiet the voice in the other person’s head is to hear the other side out and then make your argument.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Don’t ask open-ended questions after they’ve made their argument. Open-ended questions invite more discussion, whereas you want to close it down. Ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

5. Mirror Both Behavior and Words

A lot of research has been conducted on the effectiveness of mirroring a person’s behavior to create rapport. We smile when others smile, lean in when they do, and give the impression of sharing a secret understanding that is personal and makes us appear more likable.

Effective coaches, therapists, and hostage negotiators simply repeat the last word that was spoken by the other person. It indicates that they are listening and engaged.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Think about whether the persuasion attempt is trying to maneuver you to do something that you wouldn’t ordinarily be interested in doing. Try to dissociate the speaker with the message they are conveying.

6. Adapt To The Personality Of The Other Person

An essential element of mental toughness is the ability to accurately read the emotions of others and then adapt your behavior accordingly.

Match your personality to your boss, employee, or client. Assess whether they are introverts or extraverts, analytical or a visionary, purpose-driven or security-driven, goal-oriented or people-oriented.

If you’ve been a good listener, you will be able to make these distinctions.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

Determine whether the person is sincere or just trying to please you by saying things they assume you want to hear.

7. Add Charm To The Conversation

My years in the FBI were a grueling course in learning good manners because people were not going to talk to me, let alone follow me, unless I could engage them in a way that was meaningful and productive.

Demonstrate warmth first when connecting with others, develop a bond and then be competent in the work you do together.

It’s much easier to change people’s minds if you take the time to develop more than shallow, fleeting relationships with them. It comes down to this: in a world of mass media you must learn how to charm people if you want to persuade them to take your point of view seriously.

DEFENSE TIPS for you:

We are more easily swayed than we realize. Be wary of all attempts to camouflage a persuasive message.

What ways have you found to be the most persuasive?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

10 Commandments Of Interpreting Body Language

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Body language plays an important role in leadership success. Many entrepreneurs and business owners focus on verbal skills, but they fail to realize there are two conversations going on when they meet another person.

10 Commandments Of InterpretingBODY LANGUAGE

The first conversation is the one where words are used to convey information; while the second one broadcasts thoughts, attitudes, and emotions through the body. If we’re unaware of the non-verbal messages we’re sending, the second conversation could undermine the first one.

 Reading people successfully means collecting non-verbal information to evaluate thoughts and emotions.

It is a skill that requires constant practice and training. Here are 10 commandments of interpreting body language that will help you to maximize your ability to accurately read non-verbals:

Commandment 1: BODY LANGUAGE REACTIONS ARE MORE HONEST THAN YOU THINK

The brain controls all behaviors, both conscious and subconscious. This premise is the cornerstone for understanding non-verbal communication.

The limbic system is that part of the brain that reacts to events around us—in real time and without thought.

These reactions are genuine and are considered to be the “honest” part of our brain. The limbic brain enlists the body to send messages about what it is really feeling. The body will signal stress and discomfort in a variety of ways, and we interpret these behaviors as body language.

Read Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

Commandment 2: SPOTTING DECEIT IS TRICKY SO DON’T GET COCKY

There is no single sign of deceit itself—there is no gesture, facial expression, or muscle twitch that indicates a person is lying.

There are only clues that the individual is feeling an emotion or thought that is not being expressed verbally. Once the point of stress is identified, it’s possible to pursue the cause of the discomfort.

When interviewing subjects, I looked for behaviors that would tell me they are stressed or not at ease with one of my questions. Once I asked a businessman if he knew Igor—an individual whom the FBI had identified as a Russian spy. The businessman responded, “No,” but then immediately touched his mouth. I didn’t know whether he was lying, but I did know he was bothered by that question. This prompted me to probe further into this line of inquiry.

Commandment 3: CLUSTER FOR SIGNIFICANCE IF YOU WANT ACCURACY

Conversations are a string of words put together to create meaning. One word, by itself, can mean many things, or nothing. A sentence, however, expresses complete thoughts. Similarly, one gesture can mean anything—it’s only when we put them together that they have meaning. Nonverbal gestures come in clusters so it’s important to observe a person’s initial cluster of gestures to establish a norm.

It’s a serious error to interpret a solitary gesture.

Scratching the head can mean confusion or it could indicate a serious case of dandruff. Many people punctuate with constant gestures and movement while others are relatively still. They key is to notice how these gestures change during a conversation.

Commandment 4: CREATE A BASELINE

Reading other people is a process that requires time to build rapport because deception can only be identified if a baseline of the other person’s responses is established.

Non-threatening and innocent questions are likely to receive honest answers, and this is how norms are established. They can be used to measure responses to more probing questions later on.

Norms help to distinguish between a personal quirk and a contradiction in behavior. Contradictions are not goalposts when trying to detect whether someone is lying. Rather, they are signposts that suggest there is either deception, or there’s more to the matter. The person’s response is not consistent with how he or she normally responds.

Read What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro.

Commandment 5: LOOK FOR CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR

Reading body languages boils down to this: noticing whether the individual is stressed/relaxed—uncomfortable/comfortable.

A failure to understand this basic premise will lead you to make false assumptions about another’s behavior. If you notice a sudden change in a person’s behavior, it can help reveal the point of deception. This can be either verbal or non-verbal.

I’ve been in interviews with people who were in contact with foreign spies and they were very hospitable and eager to explain the reason for their contact. When I’d mention the possibility of continued contact with the FBI to gage the spy’s activities, most would answer “yes” because they wanted to appear cooperative with law enforcement.

At that point in the conversation, I looked for changes in their body language to determine whether they were being honest in their answer.

When I noticed a pursing of the lips (the lips disappear into a fine line which indicates stress) or a squinting of their eyes (they wanted me out of their eyesight), I knew I needed to address their concerns immediately if I wanted continued contact.

Commandment 6: CAREFULLY INTERPRET FACIAL EXPRESSIONS

The face is the one part of the body that is most often used to conceal feelings and emotions. Dr. Paul Ekman, an expert on facial micro-expressions, states that the face is the primary place we display emotion. This is also why the face can be incredibly untrustworthy. According to Ekman, we lie with our faces because that’s what we’ve been told to do since childhood.

“Take that look off your face,” was one of my mom’s favorite expressions when I was growing up.

The face can lie and tell the truth, often at the same time. While the face can be untrustworthy, most people still leak micro-expressions. These expressions are fleeting and can be easily missed.

Read Telling Lies by Paul Ekman.

Commandment 7: WATCH EYEBROWS AND FOREHEADS

Not all of the muscles that produce facial expressions are equally easy to control. Some muscles are more reliable than others. The forehead is the chief focus for reliable muscle movements. It can reliably indicate negative emotions such as sadness, grief, distress, and even guilt.

Eyebrow actions—raising and lowering—are the most frequent facial expressions, and they are usually made in conjunction with forehead movements. When eyebrows are raised and pulled together, it is a reliable muscle movement that occurs with fear, worry, apprehension, and terror. The eyebrows are difficult to inhibit from expressing true emotion. When a person is calm and positive, there is less forehead furrowing and eyebrow movement unless they are used to emphasize speech or as question marks.

Commandment 8: WATCH THOSE SMILES

The third most reliable facial action is the mouth area. Anger, tension, frustration, and fear can all lead to a narrowing of the lips. All of these emotions can easily be concealed by smiling.

But pay attention to the entire face: for a smile to be genuine, there must crow’s feet around the eyes and the cheeks must be pushed up.

Smiling is a sign of submission, which is why many dominant individuals don’t smile. I always smiled when I began an interview with a subject because it directly influenced how they responded to me. The last thing I wanted to do was intimidate them or put them on the defensive. On the contrary, I wanted to put them at ease so I could create a baseline of their behavior. Smiling helps create empathy, something that can be important if you want concessions in a negotiation.

Commandment 9: TALK WITH YOUR HANDS

There are more nerve connections between the hands and the brain than between any other parts of the body.

Our brain is hardwired to engage our hands to accurately communicate our emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

I make an effort to shake hands with people I meet. The handshake that conveys equality is when both hands are vertical. As a woman, I’m frequently in situations where a male will offer a dominant handshake—his palm faces down. Palms down indicate dominance (think of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi salute).

To counter a dominant handshake, I simply move to the right of the individual so we are almost side-by-side. He is forced to move his hand into the vertical position as I move to his right.

Commandment 10: BELIEVE WHAT THE FEET ARE SAYING

As unglamorous as it sounds, feet are the most honest part of the body.

Children and adults alike bounce up and down when they see someone, or something, that makes them happy.

I met with an individual whom I suspected had contact with a Russian spy. I began the interview by asking general questions, as much to gain a baseline as to confirm background information that I already possessed. His answers were forthcoming and his body language was relaxed.

However, when I moved the conversation toward the Russian spy, he became rigid. He uncrossed his legs and sat with his feet flat on floor with ankles locked. Again, this didn’t mean he was lying, but it did indicate he became stressed at the point in the conversation when we started talking about the Russian.

Read Secrets of A Strong Mind.

These 10 Commandments of Body Language will help you more accurately understand the importance of non-verbal behaviors.

Whether in business or life, always focus on whether the individual to whom you are talking is exhibiting stressed or relaxed behaviors.

What other commandments to interpret body language would you add?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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4 Secrets of Mental Toughness

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

FBI agents working knotty and sophisticated cases—like terrorism, cybercrime, and counterintelligence—build mental toughness to handle themselves in dangerous situations.

4 Secrets Of Mental Toughness

As the world has become more complex, the focus of FBI investigations has evolved from hunting bank robbers like John Dillinger and criminals like Al Capone to better address the current threat to American lives.

It’s no secret that business and life are not as simple as they were, either—even a few years ago. It is no longer a matter of knowledge, ability, and skill.

As entrepreneurs and business owners you need to be psychologically prepared to deal with strong competition, recover from mistakes and failure quickly, tackle tough situations, devise strategies, and collaborate with others.

In other words, you need mental toughness to manage the emotions, thoughts, and behavior that will set you up for success in business and life.

Mental toughness allows us to push past hard situations and face adversity with confidence.

Here are 4 secrets of mental toughness taken from the FBI playbook,:

SECRET #1 Mental Toughness Requires Self-Control

Being the loudest, or toughest, or meanest is not being mentally tough—it is being a bully.

People act aggressively out of defense. Only when we do not feel strong enough to resolve a situation do we rely upon aggression as a means of dealing with the conflict.

The strongest leaders you know do not need to act aggressively because they have power.

TIPS For You:

  1. Spend your energy on understanding your weaknesses so you can manage them rather than trying to cover them up.
  2. Focus on turning painful situations into a time for personal growth and meaningful development.
  3. Control your own emotions, thoughts, and behavior, rather than trying to control other people. Meditation is described as too touchy-feely by many, but it is a valuable tool for building mental toughness. The discipline of continually bringing thoughts and emotions back to where you want them (instead of letting them wander) is the way to start bringing them under your conscious and intentional control.

SECRET #2 Mental Toughness Requires Positive Thinking

Positive thinkers are not optimists and here is why:

  • Positive thinkers believe they will prevail in their circumstances rather than believing their circumstances will change.
  • Optimists believe their circumstances will eventually change for the better.

FBI Agents are not optimists who hope or expect an arrest to go without a hitch—instead, they prepare for the worst and practice ahead of time.

When they do come across adversity, they don’t wait and hope things will change for the better. They adapt quickly to the new situation and remain flexible by choosing to remain positive so that they will find a solution.

TIPS For You:

  1. Talk positively to yourself. Research has determined that you say between 300-1,000 words to yourself per minute. Keep those words positive!
  2. Remember the mind’s first response is a negative one when you’re stressed or have encountered an obstacle.
  3. Recognize the 3 P’s of negativity and pessimism:
  • Permanent (“It’ll never change or I won’t ever get it done.”)
  • Pervasive (“You can’t trust any of those people.”)
  • Personal (“It’s all my fault. I’m terrible at this.”)

SECRET #3 Mental Toughness Requires Grit

Jack Dempsey once said, “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”

He was talking about perseverance and determination—grit.

Entrepreneurs, leaders, and business owners all know that while intelligence and creativity are important, you need grit to accomplish anything big.

Researchers like Angela Duckworth have found that grit is more predictive of success than IQ in military academies like West Point.

In fact, grit is unrelated, or even negatively correlated, with talent. When working with West Point cadets, she found that those who scored higher in grit had the mental toughness to keep going when times got tough.

The high score on grit surpassed other tests such as SAT scores, IQ, class rank, leadership, and physical aptitude when it came to predicting retention rates.

TIPS For You:

Gritup

  1. Face your fears
  2. Pursue work that has value and meaning for you
  3. Believe in something bigger, better, and bolder than yourself
  4. Establish strong relationships
  5. Challenge your brain
  6. Challenge your body
  7. Control your emotions and thoughts through meditation and mindfulness exercises

SECRET #4 Mental Toughness Requires Visualization

Visualizing your success is a powerful mental toughness tool because when we visualize our success, our brain produces dopamine—a “feel-good” hormone that associates our visualized success with actual success.

In fact, parts of our brain can’t tell the difference between a visualized version of a successful performance and an actual performance!

Be careful, however; your brain is smart enough to recognize a fantasy for what it is and will not produce the dopamine that you need to create the motivation to succeed.

TIPS For You:

  1. Imagine a presentation or meeting in the future where you need to perform at your best
  2. See yourself in front of the crowd—what you will be wearing and how you will be standing
  3. Practice exactly what you will say and how you will say it—many times
  4. Anticipate negative reactions or questions from the group
  5. Imagine how you will respond
  6. Rehearse your body movements

As our world becomes more and more complex, mental toughness will become an essential mindset.

Building mental toughness is a life long task, but here is the good news: Mental toughness is not something we were born with—it is something we can learn.

When have you been mentally tough?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Get my FREE Mental Toughness Mini-Course

Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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