Posts Tagged ‘body language’

How To Read People Like An FBI Agent

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Wouldn’t it be great if we could tell if someone was lying to us?

body-language

Research shows that within five minutes of meeting someone, we can often evaluate them with 70 percent accuracy. Although that seems effective, the remaining 30 percent can be costly.

Entrepreneurs and leaders need to be game-ready when they approach a prospective client, walk into a board meeting, or chat with co-workers. If they know how to read people they will notice when inconsistencies arise so they can get insight into what is really going on.

To be a successful undercover FBI agent, I had to learn how to read people within minutes—and failing to accurately evaluate the person in front of me could jeopardize an entire assignment.

Detecting lies is hard work, and there is no single magic indicator, but here are two things you should know:

  1. Accurately reading body language is important if you want to avoid being scammed or deceived. Approximately 55% of what we convey when we speak comes from body language.
  2. Conversations are a string of words and gestures put together to create meaning. One word or gesture, by itself, can mean many things, or nothing. 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.

Here are 3 areas to pay particular attention to if you want to read people like an FBI agent:

1. Hands Are A Gold Mine

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.

TIPS on how to read people:

  • Hand steepling (placing the tips of your fingers together similar to praying) indicates that you are confident of your thoughts or situation.
  • Clenching hands is a universal way of showing stress or concern.
  • Stroking the neck with one finger is a sign of less than normal confidence and is a subconscious way of relieving stress (the common number of strokes with a single finger is 5).

2. Always Believe The Feet

body-language-feet

As unglamorous as it sounds, feet are the most honest part of the bodyChildren and adults alike bounce up and down when they see someone, or something, that makes them happy.

I once met with an individual whom I suspected had contact with a Russian spy. Initially, his answers were forthcoming and his body language was relaxed. However, when I moved the conversation toward the Russian spy, 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.

In general, when in a negotiation or intense conversation, pay attention to crossed legs. Researchers have found that contract settlements increased greatly when both negotiators uncross their legs.

TIPS on how to read people:

  • Jiggling of a leg once seated indicates that the person is uncomfortable or stressed with something that was said.
  • Note: Some people always jiggle their leg, so notice when they start kicking—they are being asked something they don’t like.
  • Locking ankles, one over the other, indicates the individual is mentally “biting their lip” and holding back a negative emotion, uncertainty, or fear.
  • Note: In ankle locks, men tend to open their legs in a crotch display while women tend to hold their knees together
  • Pointing feet toward the door or elevator is a sign they are looking for a way to end the conversation. Many times the body will be angled in the direction of the feet even though the person has turned their face toward us.

3. Be Wary Of Facial Expressions

Confident woman

A lot has been written about reading facial micro-expressions, and while they can be accurate, they can also be very deceiving.

I never relied on interpretation micro-expressions when working undercover to accurately assess what a person was thinking or saying. From our childhood we are told to “wipe that look off your face” and so we learn at a very early age to control our expressions.

TIPS on how to read people:

  • Covering our mouth as children indicated we were being deceitful, but when adults are being deceitful, the hand is placed on the face in a nose-touch gesture. It can also mean they are being very careful in how they word their next response.
  • Raising eyebrows is a sign that we are excited to see someone or are full of positive emotions we can’t hold back.
  • Tilting our head is a powerful way of saying I am comfortable, receptive, and friendly. It’s very hard to do if we are around people we don’t like.
  • Hand touching, face touching, crossing arms, and leaning away are all clues that, by themselves, mean nothing, but together they are a highly accurate signal of deceit.

This article first appeared on Success.com.

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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.” 

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9 Habits Of Incredibly Charming People

Monday, August 1st, 2016

We are more likely to build personal and professional relationships with people we like. In doing so, we are drawn to people who are charming, polite, and modest.

Charm

Charm is the power of pleasing or attracting others through our personality. There are arguments that social media is damaging our people skills, but I disagree. The charm of manners and personality is as important in social media and news outlets as it is in face-to-face conversations.

A lot of people know how to be rude, blunt, and offensive but a lot of people also know how to be charming. In the world of sales, business, and startups, it’s impossible to change people’s minds unless you change their hearts, too.

Here are 9 habits of incredibly charming people:

1. CHARMING PEOPLE USE THE RIGHT BODY LANGUAGE

They step forward, with a genuine smile, eyebrows arched, head tilted, and a slight bow—a clear sign of deference in every culture—and offer a firm handshake.

This body language signals that we have put aside all pretense of power and self-importance to indicate we are honored by the introduction. Our body language is often the first thing others notice about us, so we need to be certain we are sending the right message.

Not everyone is excited about meeting an FBI agent, so the initial messages I sent with my body language went a long way to opening the other person up to a genuine conversation.

2. CHARMING PEOPLE KEEP THEIR EGO IN CHECK

They look for points of agreement; sometimes the search is hard but they find ways to understand the other person’s point of view. 

This doesn’t mean they are afraid to voice their own opinion—when asked and when appropriate! Our ego often insists that we demand our right to express our own opinion; charming people know how to keep the ego in check so someone else can have the main floor.

My job in the FBI was to recruit foreign spies to work for the U.S. government. Often, I wanted to spout off about why America was a better place to live than their country. I learned, however, that what is right for me might not be right for them, even if that meant swallowing my pride and admitting defeat.

3. CHARMING PEOPLE NEVER NAME DROP

Very little is more annoying that meeting someone who constantly name drops about all the important people they know. Or, brags about their points of contacts.

Charming people may know lots of fascinating people, but they don’t talk about it.

When interviewing people, I always made it a habit to treat the person in front of me as the most important person in the world to me at that moment. And they were important, either to me or my investigation—they key was letting them know it.

4. CHARMING PEOPLE REMEMBER FACES AND/OR NAMES

They work hard to remember names, faces, or even small details of the other person’s life. The fact that they remember those specifics always makes the other person feel better about themselves.

If they remember something about us, we will remember something about them.

I am very bad with names and repeating the name 3 times does not help me to remember at all. I am much better with faces, though, so I try to link something about the person’s past history to the face. That way, even if forget their name I can create rapport by mentioning the factoid that I do remember.

5. CHARMING PEOPLE LISTEN TO WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY

They focus on the person in front of them—whether they are knee-to-knee and nose-to-nose with a person or in front of a computer screen answering emails. They don’t lapse into planning tomorrow or checking items off their to-do list.

Deep listening means being present with both sides of the conversation—not just your side.

Many times the individuals I was trying to recruit for the FBI spoke such poor English that I really did have truly concentrate to understand what they were trying to say. The more I focused on listening to them, the more they opened up.

6. CHARMING PEOPLE ADAPT THEIR PERSONALITY TO THE OTHER PERSON

They know how to match their personality to their employees, prospects, and clients. This means they must quickly assess whether the other person was an introvert or extrovert, 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.

When listening to one particular foreign spy talk, I quickly determined that he was not a risk taker so I immediately re-framed the conversation. Instead of making a single suggestion, I offered a series of smaller, bite-sized ones he could take time to consider, and get comfortable with, before we moved onto the larger goal (that is, working for the U.S. government).

7. CHARMING PEOPLE ARE SINCERE

They take the time to develop relationships so they can accurately understand people’s needs, desires, and fears. Until this happens, it’s very difficult to engage people in any meaningful way.

Sometimes it’s not all about the money. The days of hard pitches to close sales are over. Customers are getting too sophisticated for this approach; they use mass media to educate themselves about a product and make their decisions right then and there.

If we’re on the losing end of this decision, our job is to change their mind by changing their heart.

The foreign spies I tried to recruit were suspicious of me and professed loyalty to their government. Understanding that, I could couch my conversations with them in ways that would not impugn their loyalty or trustworthiness.

8. CHARMING PEOPLE ARE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS

They know how to give others the respect that is due to them without trying to belittle them in the process.

In a culture that at times seems to be losing its ability to have respect for the opposing point of view, this is an extremely important habit to cultivate.

When a suspect in one of my investigations understood that the FBI had no intention of bullying them or resorting to extortion (despite how the FBI is portrayed in TV and movies), I always sensed their gratitude for the respect that was shown to them.

9. CHARMING PEOPLE HAVE TACT WHEN IN DISAGREEMENT

They know what to say or do to avoid giving offense. Tact is essential when dealing with difficult or delicate situations.

Do not ask embarrassing questions that put people on the defensive. If you’re uncertain how to move forward with a difficult conversation, try role-playing with a friend and ask for their input. Are you coming across the way you want?

One foreign spy expected to be blackmailed (for what, I don’t know—it made me think I hadn’t watched him closely enough!) It was important that he walk away from our conversation with his dignity because I wanted to leave the door open for future conversations with him. Over time, he felt comfortable enough with me to provide valuable assessment on his fellow intelligence officers.

The charm had worked!

How have you charmed people?

© 2016 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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.”

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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

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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.” 

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How To Read People —9 FBI Tips

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

The topic was How To Read People and it was one of the best interrogation seminars I ever attended. It was led by a muscular man with a face that looked as though chiseled out of a block of wood. 

How To Read People

A member of Special Forces, he told me and 30 other FBI agents that the best way to elicit information from another person was to learn how to read people. That, he said, requires two things: careful observation and developing rapport.

I was stunned. I expected all sorts of tips on how to be sneaky with my questions and intimidating in my manner.

“Always remember that you cannot read people accurately if you don’t spend time with them and if they don’t trust you,” he said.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, you do not need to be a top notch interrogator to figure out what is going on in someone’s head. The signals are always there; all you need to do is know what to look for.

Here are 9 FBI helpful tips on how to read people:

1. Create A Baseline If You Want To Accurately Read People

Spend enough time around a person to get to know their quirks and patterns of behavior. For example, some people clear their throat, look at the floor when talking, cross their arms, scratch their head, stroke their neck, squint, pout, and jiggle their feet frequently.

In others, however, these same behavior might be indicative of deception, anger, or discomfort.

Before you can make any judgments or assessments about an individual, create a baseline of their normal behavior.

2. Look For Aberrations

Start looking for inconsistencies between the baseline you’ve created and the person’s words and gestures.

For example: your boss normally nods when in conversation with others but when you start talking to her, the nodding stops. Pay attention! Is it you, or is the topic you’ve introduced?

3. Notice Clusters of Gestures

No one gesture or word necessarily means anything; but when several behavioral aberrations are clumped together, take notice.

For example, not only does your boss stop nodding, she also angles her body away from you, leans back, and compresses her lips.

You are reading her accurately: she has a problem—either with you or with the topic that you’ve introduced into the conversation.

4. Compare And Contrast

Move your observation up a notch to see if/when she repeats that same behavior with others in your group.

Continue to observe her as she interacts with others in the room. Does her expression change? Does her posture and body language change? Have you noticed a specific change in her behavior toward you?

5. Walk This Way

Notice the way a person walks. People who shuffle along, lack a flowing motion in their movements, hug themselves, and keep their head down, often lack self-confidence.

Do not be that person! Walk with alertness and purpose, and keep your shoulders back and head held high. When you do, you are signaling to the world that you have an important place to be and an important task to accomplish.

6. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

Mirror neurons are built-in monitors in our brain that reflect other people’s state of mind.

We are wired to read each other’s bodies. A smile activates the smile muscles in our own faces, while a frown activates our frown muscles.

According to Paula Niedenthal in Psychology of Emotion, we are programmed to observe each other’s emotions so we can appropriately react, empathize, or assert our boundaries.

When we see someone we like, our eyebrows arch, facial muscles relax, head tilts, and blood flows to our lips making them full.

If this is not reciprocated, that person is sending you a clear message: they do not like you and/or are not happy with your performance.

7. Identify The Strong Voice

Confident people have strong voices. Do not confuse a loud voice with a strong one.

Confidence and power are kissing cousins.

Around a conference room table, the most confident person is very likely to also be the most powerful one: expansive posture, strong voice, and a big smile. The most powerful person is not always the one sitting at the head of the table.

Make sure your body language and behavior make it clear that you are confident and that your message has heft.

8. Use Of Action Words

As an FBI agent, I always looked for clues on what people were thinking, and words were the closest way for me to get into another person’s head.

Words represent thoughts so identify the word that is freighted with meaning.

For example, if your boss says she, “Decided to buy brand X,” the action word is decided. This single word tells you that your boss is 1) not impulsive, 2) weighed several options, and 3) thinks things through.

Another example: if your colleague says, “I won another award,” the action word is another. She is telling you that she 1) has won awards before, 2) is bolstering her self-esteem, and 3) wants you to know she is a winner.

9. Spot Personality Types

Each of us have our own unique personalities, but there are basic clarifications that can help you relate to another person so you can read them accurately.

  • Are they an introvert or extrovert?
  • Are they driven by relationships or by significance?
  • How do they handle risk and uncertainty?
  • What feeds their ego?
  • What are their behaviors when they are stressed?
  • What are their behaviors when they are relaxed?

It takes time to learn how to read people accurately. Start practicing now on people you know and with whom you interact. You can develop the skill by constantly listening and observing actively in every day life.

What tips would you add?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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.” 

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6 Reasons People Don’t Listen To You

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Recently, I was talking to an individual whom I truly like, but we were in a crowded room filled with lots of people I knew. I wanted to listen to her but my eye wandered over her shoulder as I mentally prioritized those I needed to contact as soon as our conversation ended.

6 Reasons People Don't Listen To You

My friend tried to catch my eye and drag me back into our conversation. I nodded mechanically while my eye kept sneaking over her shoulder to take in the social patterns developing in the room.

Eventually, she said, “I’ve lost you. Let’s talk later.”

I felt terrible, but I knew she was right. I was pretending to listen as I recited a mental tally of whom I needed to talk to before the evening ended.

Situations like this can range from annoying to destructive. According to Pamela CooperVice President of the International Listening Association, “It takes hard work to really listen and it takes a great deal of concentration.”

If you want people to listen to you, you must have the mental toughness to be brutally honest with yourself.

Think about the way you listen to others,  or better yet, thicken your skin and ask a good friend or your spouse for their honest evaluation. To listen well, and be a good listener, it takes more than just hearing what the person is saying—it requires a conscious desire, conscientiousness, and practice.

People don’t listen to you because you don’t:

1. Stay Engaged

To be a good listener, you have to be present—which means not being preoccupied either physically or mentally. Dump the clutter from your mind and pay attention to what is being communicated to you now.

When you are distracted by other people or technology, it makes the other person feel unimportant.

TIPS:

  • If you’re in a busy room, focus on the person with whom you are talking rather than what is going on around you
  • If you’re talking on the phone, turn your back on the computer and give the person your full attention
  • Stop thinking about arguments, reports to be finished, or where you are going to dinner

2. Open Up Your Body Language

Body language communicates what you are thinking and feeling more accurately than the words you use.

No matter how interested you appear to be, if your feet are turned toward the nearest exit you are signaling that you are anxious to make an escape. Crossing arms or hands in pockets also exhibits nervous behavior. These small physical gestures can discourage others from approaching you.

TIPS:

  • Lean forward and nod occasionally
  • Face the person who is speaking
  • Open up your posture by uncrossing the arms
  • Make eye contact

3. Leave Your Assumptions Behind

If your brain thinks that it knows the answer, it will only accept information that confirms your beliefs.

Making assumptions and generalizations are hard-wired into our thinking. But, if you can generate genuine interest in the topic, or person, you can over-ride this tendency and create an open mind.

When listening to another person, it may help to assume you know nothing about what they are telling you.

TIPS:

  • Check your assumption out loud with the person with whom you are talking
  • Ask a question such as, “So you mean…” and let the person confirm or correct

4. Ask Questions

The two most powerful words in a conversation are: “Tell me.”

Questions are incredibly important in any conversation. People like to be heard, and when you ask a question, it signals that you are not only listening to them but that you are also hearing what they have to say.

If you take an genuine interest in the activities of others, they will return the favor.

Questions allow you to dig deeper and discover more about specific areas on which you are unclear so you can gain a better understanding of a person’s priorities, values, and interests. Because of this, it is easier to connect with others and develop meaningful relationships.

TIPS:

  • Open-ended questions provide great opportunities for people to elaborate on specific topics
  • Questions keep conversations flowing
  • Asking for clarification helps you understand someone’s point of view
  • Asking questions of yourself will keep you from becoming defensive

5. Create Empathy

Sometimes we don’t really want to hear what other people have to say! We love our own opinions and thoughts and would prefer to shut out those of others.

Once we close down, however, we risk becoming judgmental and opinionated. More importantly, we miss out on what others have to share with us.

If you can develop the ability to hunt out shared experiences, it is easier to take in the big picture and create empathy.

TIPS:

  • Suspend judgment—even if you have firm beliefs on the subject
  • Take in the entire message with no interruptions
  • Seek out bits of information with which you agree so you can find some shared ground
  • Place yourself in the other person’s shoes

6. Shut Up And Listen

There is a time to speak and a time to shut up and listen. Effective communication requires reciprocity. If you aren’t a good listener, do not be surprised when others don’t make listening to you a top priority.

TIPS:

  • Shut up if you don’t have something significant to contribute to the conversation
  • Shut up if you can’t find something positive to say
  • Shut up if you don’t intend to hold your part of the bargain
  • Shut up if your only contribution is to whine and complain

How have you become a more effective listener?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn

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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9 Powerful Ways To Build Confidence

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

During a mock trial, I was selected to be a witness and cross-examined by a criminal lawyer. The purpose of the mock trial was to give FBI agents an idea of how defense attorneys would try to distort our words and use them against us, especially in front of a jury.

9 Powerful Ways To Build Confidence

We were in a real federal courtroom with real lawyers and judges. I had never testified in a court of law before—I felt inadequate, uncertain, and afraid that I would blow the case by saying the wrong thing.

Sure enough, I answered the defense attorney’s question and she immediately twisted the meaning of my words. I wanted to say, “That’s not what I meant,” but she had already moved on to another topic. I was flustered and my lack of confidence plummeted ever further.

When she asked another question, I kept my answer very short. I knew that I risked sounding defensive but I simply did not have enough confidence in myself to engage with her at any length. Realizing that my lack of conviction about her client’s activities would not present a real threat, I was quickly dismissed as a witness.

All I remember about that entire exchange is how crappy it felt to be both humiliated and impotent as a government witness in a mock trial.

Lack of confidence can rear its ugly head at any time. No one is immune because we are most vulnerable any time we’re out of our comfort zone or experience change in our life.

Confidence is closely linked to mental toughness because it takes a strong mind to conquer fear, anxiety, and worry.

Our brain is naturally wired to pay more attention to negative thinking because bad news has alerted us to danger for centuries. Our cave dweller ancestors went out each day to “get lunch” not “be lunch.”

But not everything that is new or different is a threat to our survival these days. The good news is that we can train ourselves to be more confident. Here are 9 ways:

1. Isolate Your Fear

In my case, I was afraid of making a fool of myself in front of my colleagues during the mock trial. I was afraid of what they might say and think if I screwed up.

Other common fears are: fear of how others perceive us, fear of being physically hurt, fear of commitment, or fear of failure.

It is important to dump the ego and get right down to the origin of your fear.

2. Take Action

If you hesitate and wring your hands, your fear will only grow.

I should have prepared better, worked harder to anticipate the way the defense attorney would parse my words, and trusted my own judgment.

3. Deposit Positive Memories in Your Memory Bank

We are bombarded with so much information that our brain stores information in a way that makes sense to it.

So, if you lack confidence, all your brain will remember about a specific event are those things that confirm you messed up.

If you hold a memory freighted with lack of confidence, go back and revisit it to make sure you are remembering correctly. Often, you will find out that others did not perceive or remember an event the same way.

At the end of each day, examine it. Remember all the positive and good things that you said, did, or accomplished that day. Reflect on all the positive victories and go to sleep with those memories on your mind.

4. Withdraw Only Positive Memories

It is easy for any negative thought, with enough encouragement and recall, to turn into a mental monster. The best way to defeat it is to ruthlessly nip it in the bud.

Find at least 3 things every day for which to be grateful. Write them down. Smile when you think of them.

Successful leaders move forward with confidence because they learn from their fears and failures, and then let them go.

5. Respect Yourself

If you don’t respect yourself, why should anyone else? I can’t think of any situation where a doormat is someone who is respected.

If you are not in a situation where you do not feel respect from others, change your situation; do not walk—run. The devil you don’t know is NOT worse than the devil you know.

Perhaps this means changing friends, jobs, or relationships—whatever it takes, place yourself in a position where you respect yourself and others reciprocate these positive feelings.

6. Sit In The Front Row

I always sat in the front row of every class I ever took. It takes confidence to sit in the front row and be noticed, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Start today and sit in the front row of every meeting, conference, or class you attend. Start getting comfortable with being noticed.

7. Make Eye Contact

Body language is important in building confidence. I immediately categorize people who do not look me in the eye as losers, whether they are or not. This means they have to work extra hard to convince me they are not.

Failure to make eye contact indicates either 1) they feel inferior to you and lack confidence, or 2) they are guilty of something.

This may be a great clue when interviewing suspects, but it’s not the message you want to be sending to your team members.

8. Walk Faster

I’ve had people come up to me out of a crowd and say they knew I was an FBI agent because of the way I walked—fast!

You know what, my time is important, and where I’m going is important—or I wouldn’t be going. Don’t be an average walker, or an average thinker. Moving with intention says, “I’m going to be successful.”

9. Speak Up

A sign of a true milquetoast is someone who doesn’t speak up. Instead, they feel their opinions don’t matter and that no wants to hear them.

Each time you clam up you are injecting more confidence-poison into your system. Your feeling of inferiority and inadequacy will just keep growing.

Bite the bullet and speak up! Practice what you are going to say ahead of time so it sounds good. Keep it short and pithy.

You will be amazed at how good it feels!

How do you build your confidence?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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.” 

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9 Body Language Signals Successful Business Owners Never Ignore

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

A young man recently asked me what I considered to be the most important skill he would need to develop if he wanted to become a successful FBI agent. I told him that emotional intelligence—being able to pick up on the moods of others—would be one of the most essential skills he would need.

Body Language - hands

The reason?

The ability to accurately pick up on the stress and vulnerability of people gives you an immediate advantage in how to move forward most successfully. It varies from, “Maybe this is not the right time to pitch a new deal” to “This is the perfect time to push harder on this issue.”

Empathy.

It’s the one thing that allows you, as a business owner, to speak to the needs and desires of others. 

Most business owners understand what empathy is, and some are good at reading other people’s needs and desires. When people feel they are understood, they respond in positive ways.

FBI agents need people to cooperate with them in their investigations. Forget what you see in movies and read in books—the tough guy approach of blackmail and coercion works best in fantasy, and not real life.

When we reach people in a way that touches them deeply, we help them tap into their best selves and achieve amazing results. Successful business owners understand the importance of engaging their talent, and they are savvy about how to read body language to gage the emotions of others.

If you are looking to grow your business, here are 9 things you should look for when reading the body language of others:

1. Smile First

Very few people are actually happy to see an FBI agent. But, a fake smile can be seen a mile away so I knew I needed to proceed cautiously no matter how glad they sounded about meeting me.

TIP: Dump the botox and live with creases around the eyes—those lines are essential if you want to give a real smile and signal that you are genuinely happy about seeing them. If you don’t see crinkle lines around their eyes when they are smiling, watch your step.

2. Eyebrow Flash

The second body language message that alerted me to the real emotions of the person I was meeting was a lack of eyebrow flash. We subconsciously raise our eyebrows a bit when we’re genuinely pleased to see someone. This is especially true for people whom you know or have met before.

TIP: Think twice if the person does not raise their eyebrows when they see you, even if they verbally indicate everything is OK.

3. Mouthy Movements

When people are stressed, their lips start to disappear! Paul Ekman has produced a lot of information on micro-expressions, but my rule of thumb is to watch the mouth as a conversation unfolds because it will subconsciously signal what the person is feeling.

TIP: When lips disappear, the person is stressed. When lips purse, they are disagreeing with what you said or are considering another idea.

4. Nervous Hands

When hands cover the mouth, the brain is trying to suppress the deceitful words that are being said. Professional liars and politicians train themselves to lie without exhibiting the tell-tale gestures that goes with it.

TIP: When the hand touches the face at any time during your conversation, pay attention to what was said and how often the gesture is repeated.

5. Head Tilt

Most FBI interviews begin like this: the other person answers questions while sitting in a rigid position and holding their head straight. After they become comfortable, they will usually tilt their head as they engage in conversation.

TIP: A head tilt is a powerful way to convey that you are comfortable with the conversation. It is incredibly hard to tilt your head when you’re experiencing negative emotions.

The face is used more than any other part of the body to cover up lies. The more ambiguous the expression, however, the more difficult to look for accurate body language.  Then, it’s important to look for clusters of gestures. For example:

6. Clenched Hands

I’ve been in many meetings where the person speaking is clenching their hands in raised position (usually elbows on the table or hands resting on the table) and smiling while they’re speaking.

TIP: This is a sign of frustration and the person speaking is holding back a negative attitude.

7. Neck Scratch

Many times a person who is being deceptive in their answers will scratch their neck with their index finger.

TIP: The average number of scratches is about five and it is a signal of doubt or uncertainty.

8. Chin Stroking

When you’re making a suggestion or sharing an idea, many times the listener will bring one hand to their face—this is called an evaluation gesture. The most common form of evaluation gesture is a chin stroke.

TIP: The chin stroke is a signal that the listener is going through the decision-making process. Watch for the body language that follows: arms and legs crossed means they are not favorably impressed, while leaning forward and open arms means they’re open to your idea.

9. Restless Feet

My former FBI colleague, Joe Navarro, is an expert on body language.  He says that our feet, along with legs, are the most honest parts of the body. Most of us are trained to control our facial expressions. How many of us heard, “Get that look off your face” while growing up? But no one pays attention to what the feet are doing—except skeptical FBI agents.

When we are happy and content, our feet will bounce or move. In the same way, when the other person’s foot is turned toward the door when you’re talking to them, it signals they want to leave.

TIP: Pay attention to what a person is doing with their feet. If they are bouncing, chances are good that they have happy feet, and all is going well.

Successful business owners know that to get the most from their teams, they must learn how to read body language accurately so they can reach team members on an emotional level.

What other body language signals would you add?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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.” 

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Body Language – What Your Walk Says About You

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

“I could tell you were an FBI agent by the way you walked,” a man once told me. I had arranged to meet him at a restaurant but had failed to describe myself for him. He stood up the moment I approached the hospitality desk and held out his hand in a greeting.

Kicking Heels

Many people think I’m Asian when they hear my last name, Quy. Actually, it’s French Huguenot. I knew what the man I was meeting looked like because I had his driver’s license photo. How could he be so sure I was the FBI agent he was waiting to meet simply by my walk?

As it turns out, our gait is our first golden opportunity to impress others.

1. Body Language Help Us Evaluate Strangers

Our early ancestors relied upon their ability to recognize people from a distance. They could see a lone figure on the horizon and determine whether they were friend or foe. Now, we’re more apt to recognize the car a person is driving.

Our ability to receive messages about other people by their walk and posture has not gone away. It’s an innate skill we were all born with. However, these messages are often stored in our subconscious—still powerful but not tapped into as much they could be.

2. Body Language Conveys Importance

We convey a lot of information through body language, but it’s easy to forget that our walk is sending a message as powerful as any other gesture. If we’re rushed, or deep in thought, we walk differently. When I asked the man I was meeting at the restaurant what it was that tipped him off, he said, “You walked with an inordinate amount of confidence—quickly, like a person who values her time and the time of others.”

In other words, he could tell by my gait that I was serious and arriving for a business meeting.

3. Body Language Communicates Our Thoughts

Recollect a time when you were at a store waiting in a long line to make your purchase. The clerk is slow. You look around and see the other employees also moving a slow pace. They give the impression of dull minds that have no concern for others. Do you look forward to a return visit?

People who give the impression that they don’t care will not be treated the same as those who communicate that they are both eager and capable. Think about how you react to the following:

  • Slouching and slumped shoulders – sends the message that you don’t care, either about your appearance or your job. Instead, stand with shoulders back and chin level.
  • Leaning or swaying – creates the message that you’re not confident and not capable. Keep weight balanced on both feet
  • Slow movements – interpreted by others to be laziness. Speed is interpreted to mean both a good attitude and high energy.

Fast walkers convey a message of well being:

Soldiers in marches walk with an exaggerated gait to portray both youth and vigor. For this reason, politicians often do the same thing to convey their vitality, particularly if they’re older.

Recent research has shown that the pace of our walk is also an indicator of how healthy we are. Speed reflects vitality because so many organs are involved in how we move—heart, lungs, muscles, joints, and the brain.

Our gait is one of the first golden opportunities we have to impress others. At both conscious and subconscious levels, we start evaluating behaviors at a distance. If we give the wrong first impression, that imprint can have lasting results.

What is the first thing you notice about someone?

© 2011 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness For Women Leaders” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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Body Language Is Louder Than Words

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Silence is Golden. Dust tape is Silver.

When there is a conflict between what is said verbally and what is transmitted through body language, the body is always more accurate in revealing true emotions and feelings.

We all know that communication can be difficult. Sometimes the message you intend to get across is misunderstood by others because communication consists of more than just the spoken or written word—body language conveys messages as well.

Babies will pucker their lips when fed food they don’t like, whether they were born in Africa or Norway. These same babies will show delight in their faces when they see their mothers. We may be older but our reactions are still very simple.

We are happy, sad, disgusted, angry, afraid, or surprised—and we show emotions through our body gestures throughout our lives.

A five-year-old child is likely to cover their mouth when they tell a lie. This body language gesture continues to mature throughout their adult life. Instead of covering their whole mouth, they may rub their fingers around their lips.

In the case of president Bill Clinton, one of the most telling body language gesture while answering questions about Monica Lewinsky in front of a grand jury were his two front index fingers pressed together and touching the tip of his nose, effectively covering his mouth in the process.

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

1. 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 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 body language gestures and movement while others are relatively still. They key is to notice how these gestures change during a conversation.

2. Women’s Intuition or Body Language?

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 the essence 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.

3. Tips On How to Read Body Language

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:

Head

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

Eyes

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
  • Raising eyebrows

Eye movements can reveal what a person is focusing on during your conversation.

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

Hands

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

  • Palm up—nonthreatening. Even animals recognize this approach as friendly.
  • Palm down—authority. Think of the Nazi salute.
  • Pointing finger—leaves a negative feeling in most listeners
  • 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.
  • Holding the shoulder with left hand—invades personal space and may result in a hug

People notice and form opinions of you based on your behavior. This includes nonverbal messages. Effective communicators realize that the intangibles we associate with positive character traits are most often expressed nonverbally.

What tips do you have for interpreting body language? 

© 2011 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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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.” 

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