Archive for April, 2017

Why Body Gestures Are More Accurate Than Words

Monday, April 24th, 2017

If you want to know what a person is really thinking or feeling, pay more attention to their body gestures than the words they use. When there is a conflict between what a person is saying and what they are doing, body language will give you more accurate feedback.

Babies will pucker their lips when fed food they don’t like, whether they were born in Africa or Norway. A five-year-old child is likely to cover their mouth when they tell a lie. This body gesture continues to mature throughout their adult life. Instead of covering their whole mouth, they may rub their fingers around their lips.

Famously, one of the most telling body gestures was Bill Clinton as he answered questions about Monica Lewinsky in front of a grand jury. His two front index fingers pressed together and touched the tip of his nose; the gesture effectively covered his mouth in the process.

Research at UCLA shows that only 7% of communication is based on the actual words we use. 38% of communication is based on the way words are expressed (including tone and voice). That leaves a whopping 55% of communication to be based on body gestures.

No matter how hard you’ve worked to perfect your presentation or polish your elevator speech, it’s a competitive market and polishing your body gestures will give you a powerful edge.

Understanding how people communicate is a core component of mental toughness. Accurate communication helps leaders and management to be emotionally competent, a skill that can provide a valuable and reliable way of evaluating both their team members and the market competition.

Here are some things you need to know about accurately interpreting body gestures:

1. BODY GESTURES COME IN CLUSTERS

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 dangerous to interpret a solitary gesture—scratching the head can mean confusion or it could indicate a serious case of dandruff.

TIP: Many people punctuate with body language gestures and movement while others are relatively still. They key is to notice when these gestures change during a conversation. Pinpoint what word or topic was introduced in the conversation that produced the change in behavior.

2. WOMEN’S INTUITION OR BODY GESTURES?

A hunch or gut feeling that someone has not been truthful really means that the spoken word and the body language do not agree. This is one aspect of intuition. Are women better at it than men? Here is one very simple explanation:

Women who have raised children are usually better at hunches than others. For the first few years, mothers rely almost exclusively on the nonverbal messages of young children. It is the way they communicate with each other.

TIP: The UCLA research also revealed that our facial expressions produce the most important body gestures when it comes to conveying our emotions and feelings. Young children and babies provide excellent opportunities to fine-tune your ability to accurately understand what the child is trying to communicate.

As an FBI counterintelligence agent, I worked closely with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit on several of my cases. Here are some tips I want to share with you on how to recognize and interpret body language:

3. TIPS ON HOW TO READ HEAD MOVEMENTS

The head shows the most expressive body language characteristics. There has been a lot of research done on reading facial features and here are some generalizations that you can rely on when trying to read a person’s face to determine whether or not they’re being sincere:

  • Contempt – lip corner tightens and lifts on one side of the face
  • Happy – a real smile will always have crow’s feet wrinkles and pushed up cheeks
  • Surprise – lasts for only a second: eyebrows raised, mouth open, eyes wide open
  • Anger – eyebrows down and together, narrowing of lips

4. TIPS ON HOW TO READ EYE MOVEMENTS

As a general rule, breaks in eye contact are the most important non-verbal gesture. If you suspect deception in a conversation, here are some eye clues to watch for at the point at which they tell a lie:

  • Closing the eyes
  • Covering the eyes
  • Glancing at watch
  • Showing intense interest in fingernails
  • Looking out the window or at the floor
  • Avoid looking you in the eye during the moment of deception
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Raised eyebrows

Here are some eye clues that can reveal what a person is focusing on during your conversation:

  • Recalling a visual memory—eyes move upward.
  • Remembering something they heard—eyes move to the side
  • Recollecting a feeling—eyes look down and to the right
  • Thinking to oneself—eyes look down and to the left

5. TIPS ON HOW TO READ HAND MOVEMENTS

There are more connections between the brains and the hands than any other body part.

Positive impressions:

  • Palm up—nonthreatening. Even animals recognize this approach as friendly.
  • Squeezing thumb against the fingertips—avoids intimidating the audience
  • Shaking with two hands is meant to convey sincerity and trust. Don’t do this unless you and the other person have a strong bond of some sort. Otherwise, you end up coming across like a smarmy politician.
  • Grasping elbow with left hand—communicates depth of feeling and was commonly used by Bill Clinton with everyone.

Negative Impressions:

  • Holding the shoulder with left hand—invades personal space and may result in a hug
  • Palm down—authority. Think of the Nazi salute.
  • Pointing finger—leaves a negative feeling in most listeners

Top performers understand body gestures and avoid unspoken signals that could sabotage their best efforts to move forward.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

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

5 Tips To Build A Strong Mindset

Monday, April 17th, 2017

A strong mindset is unafraid of the risks in the unknown. I learned this as a kid growing up in Wyoming while playing among rocks and sagebrush that hid rattlesnakes.

When you are not certain of your environment, it pays to be alert and ready to make sudden changes when confronted with unexpected—whether they are rattle snakes or a volatile stock market.

A strong mindset is open to possibilities. It is constantly on the watch for potential opportunities and it works hard to make them happen. Sometimes, it means being alert to rattlesnakes camouflaged as sagebrush; sometimes it means embracing a different way of thinking about a  career change.

Learning to build a strong mindset is crucial as we encounter changes in the economy or fierce challenges from our competitors. It is a strong mindset that will get us through the challenges we will meet in both business and life.

Here are 5 tips to help you build a strong mindset:

1. BUILD CONFIDENCE ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME

When I took the physical fitness test at the FBI Academy I was the 1 percent that makes the top 99 percent possible. I failed miserably, so my challenge became twofold: maintaining confidence in myself while training to pass the rigid test.

My confidence plummeted. I worked with a coach at the Academy who taught me the secret to building confidence—take small steps.

By taking steps so tiny that they seem trivial, you can sail through obstacles that you never thought you could defeat. Slowly, you can cultivate an appreciation for the small improvements when they happen. Success builds upon itself, and slowly, it lays down a permanent route to change.

TIP: Small steps are concrete. Mountains are climbed one step at a time, not by giant leaps. You are less likely to feel out of control if you can locate the smaller problems within the larger situation.

My coach encouraged me to acknowledge the small accomplishments and savor them before moving on to the next.

2. EMBRACE YOUR OWN HELL

Everyone’s hell is different. I was scared—if I didn’t get pass the Academy’s physical fitness requirements, I couldn’t become an FBI agent. I needed courage. My strength came from facing the reality of the obstacles in front of me and reaching deep within for the resolve to overcome them. My courage came from facing inward and developing a strong mindset. I told myself:

  • Don’t run
  • Don’t panic
  • Face the situation
  • Believe you can do it
  • Fix it as soon as possible
  • Waiting will only make the situation worse
  • Now is the best time
  • I am the best person

The fear I felt did not weigh me down; instead, it deepened my resolve. A strong mindset is not built on something that is slapped together on a shallow foundation. It needs solid rock—like a skyscraper, the higher you want to go, the deeper you must go.

TIP: Remain alert for both positive and negative changes in your environment. When the negative turns into your own personal hell, look at your obstacles and setbacks as challenges to be met rather than threats to be avoided.

3. COMMITMENT COMES FROM WITHIN

In the deepest part of me I knew that I would make the FBI my career. It wasn’t a stepping-stone to something better that might come along. I was a disciple of my own deep values and beliefs. I had the will to subjugate my feelings to those values.

People are often unsuccessful because they lack commitment to their deepest values. Competence is not an inherited trait, like blue eyes. Competence is the result of working hard and concentrating on bringing about the desired result. No one succeeds overnight; failures do not happen overnight, either. A person who is fully committed can find a creative solution to almost any task.

TIP: Keep these words from Jim Collins in mind: “The best form of commitment comes from a single-minded passion for what they do and an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and work.”

4. WHEN YOU TAKE CONTROL, YOU EMPOWER YOURSELF

To be in control means that, through personal struggle, you can find ways to empower yourself and influence both the direction and outcome of your own life. A strong mindset shuts out feelings of fear and inadequacy and focuses on reaching the goal.

I learned a great deal about developing a strong mindset in firearms training. As a shooter, I employed many of the contemplation techniques I used in prayer; emptying my mind of extraneous thoughts and keeping my mind’s eye focused on one thing—the target. And then I narrowed the focus even further so my total concentration was on one thing—the gun sight at the end of the barrel.

Once your mind is quiet, you can challenge the beliefs you hold about yourself that are false or can be changed. Athletes will not improve their performance unless they reach for the goal that is beyond their grasp.

If you settle for mediocrity in yourself, that’s what you’re going to get, so don’t be surprised when your response is not what you had hoped it would be.

Challenge the beliefs you hold about yourself and enlarge your territory.

TIP: When you take control, you empower yourself because you are the one who shapes your destiny rather than passively accepting events as they come along.

5. PURPOSE IS NOT OVER-RATED

I learned from my firearms instructors that if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Live your life with a purpose. No matter how many major changes and transitions you go through in your life, if you rely upon guiding principles and values that are important to you, they will always give your life meaning.

Dr. Benjamin Mays said,

The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in not having any goals to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It’s not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideals, but it is a disaster to have no ideals to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach.”

TIP: To have a strong mindset, it’s essential that you align your career and life with your deepest values.

Mental toughness is a mindset; it is never too early, or too late, to build a strong one. 

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

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

How To Make Tough Decisions

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Tough decisions need to be made by FBI agents who work knotty and sophisticated cases such as those involving terrorism, cybercrime or counterintelligence.

In the beginning, FBI investigations hunted down back robbers like John Dillinger and mobsters like Al Capone. As the world became more complex, the focus of FBI investigations evolved to better address the current threats to American lives.

It’s no secret that business and life are not as simple as they were, either. Executives, business owners and entrepreneurs need to make tough decisions to overcome strong competition and market upheavals.

Being bold and showing courage can be scary. Yet it is precisely this behavior that enables you to move forward, because history shows us that those with the guts to step forward and lead change are the winners when things turn around.

Here are four ways to be bold and make tough decisions:

1. FIND YOUR COURAGE

Boldness comes from your head; courage comes from your heart. Boldness is a cerebral activity that recognizes opportunities, creates plans and assesses the danger. Courage is a visceral reaction that comes from your gut.

The word courage comes from the Latin root “cor,” which means heart. It represents our innermost feelings and propels us to take a chance without knowing the result.

Successful executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners may be uncertain, but they do not let fear paralyze them.

TIP: Once you give in to fear, a pattern begins to develop where you continue to avoid the fear by giving in to it. If you listen carefully, however, there is a tiny voice inside, saying that you will die full of regrets for a life that might have been if you do not be courageous and move beyond your fears.

“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”  ~ Will Willis

2. MOVE TOWARD YOUR FEAR

FBI Academy instructors would shout in my ear, “Are you feeling the pain yet?” “Is this still easy?” After I had convinced myself that I had not joined an organization full of sadists, I began to look at my discomfort and fears as a sign that I was moving out of my comfort zone. If I wanted to stay comfortable, I should have stayed in my old job.

To engage and defeat a superior foe, you will need to embrace danger. All opportunities bring danger with them, because they bring the risk and fear of the unknown.

To be bold means making tough decisions in spite of the danger. If you refuse to face your fear, it’s almost impossible to grow. In its simplest form, all behavior is the result of fear or desire.

Your decisions do not always need to be right, but there is something powerful about having the courage and boldness to move toward our fears. Courage is not the absence of fear but moving ahead despite fear. If there is no fear, who needs courage?

TIP: Fear is not something to be avoided. A strong mind has the mental toughness to recognize fear for what it is: a sign that you need to face the obstacle in front of you.

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.” ~ George R.R. Martin, “A Game of Thrones”

3. STAY IN FRONT

To be seen as a bold and courageous leader you must be seen. We all know executives who hide out in their office all day, and we’ve all seen a pattern in troubled companies — leadership equivocation on new initiatives, failure to help those struggling, and hoarding resources.

It takes courage to step in front of subordinates, but your credibility rests on not only being in front, but also being seen in front. When you start to hedge your bets, hoard information or fail to take a stand, you forfeit your right to be seen as a tough and fair leader.

TIP: When you lead from the front, you send the message that you would never ask someone else to do what you wouldn’t do. This not only inspires those around you, it reassures them that you are a team player and collaborate with others.

4. EMBRACE ANXIETY

I once had the subject of one of my investigations walk toward me like a charging bull after I asked him a direct question. I didn’t move or flinch.

My heart was beating fast and my palms were sweaty — what if he attacked me? He didn’t succeed in intimidating me, and he stopped within inches of my face. I smiled and repeated the question.

I’m not the only one who has experienced anxiety. Perhaps there’s an important meeting in the morning and you’re asking: “Am I ready? Can I really do this? What if I mess up?”

Researchers have determined that a little anxiety may be just what you need to focus your attention and energy and perform at your peak. Somewhere between being freaked out and checked out is your anxiety sweet spot. You are motivated enough to succeed and yet not so anxious that you falter.

TIP: If you’re not pushing the boundary enough to produce a healthy dose of anxiety, you will never reach peak performance. If you do not feel a little bit scared about the consequences of tough decisions, there is no reason for you to be bold.

© 2017 LaRae Quy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

Get my FREE 45-Question Mental Toughness Assessment

Sign Up for my How To Build Confidence on-line training course

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