We had the pleasure of hearing from Carolyn Stenhouse, Behavioural Science Expert and Global Master Coach at Sydney Board Meetings this month. She spoke on leadership and how to go from good to great. Carolyn shares this with you;
I’m a Scot who enjoys the cutting edge of the great poet Robert Burns. One of his famous verses, translated, says: ‘Oh the gift it would give us, to see ourselves as others see us.‘
A gift indeed, though not one everyone wants to receive. Most of us prefer to stick with the story we tell ourselves when we look in the mirror. But ask yourself: Do you really know how you are showing up – how you are received and perceived by others – how they feel about you? What if there’s something you are doing that gets in the way of you achieving the impact and influence you want?
Of course, what you say is important, you won’t get any argument from me about content in the power of persuasion. Nor will I fight you on the need to build rapport or bring compassion centre-stage in our connections. But let me tell you, way before anyone starts to focus on the content of what you’re saying, they’ve made a decision about you and it’s informing how they feel about you.
All the time the conversation that you think you’re having is taking place, there’s another conversation on the go, the one people are really tuned in to. How you move your body, your facial expression or how you sound – vocal habits. We’ve all got such habits, often informed by how we feel about ourselves. These are the somatic patterns that show up for others to see, hear and feel. They are mostly driven by our own sub-conscious mind.
It might be the sound of your voice that grates, the way your eyes narrow when you focus or that negative resting face. What about those rounded shoulders? These things not only say something to those you’re engaging, about you, they may also activate something in them – something that infects and can undermine what you’re trying to achieve.
We all want to be persuasive, but you won’t persuade anyone who can’t get beyond how negatively they feel about you over simple things that you can change Actively seeking and being open to feedback about the stuff going on we simply can’t see or hear ourselves is essential.
I grew up in the heyday of David Beckham, one of the all-time great British (OK English!) footballers. To this day he has a huge fan base, not just for his prowess on the pitch, he’s an all-round good guy. A family man, business man, ambassador and brand in his own right. He’s also arguably, one of life’s gifted good lookers. David is handsome. That hasn’t changed as the decades have passed. But what has changed is the sound of his voice.
I recall one friend who used to jest about having a ‘celebrity pass card’ with her husband. Her choice of fantasy infidelity would always be David Beckham. ‘BUT… she would say, raising her forefinger to her lips, tonight David, we’re going to be very naughty and VERY QUIET’. What she meant was, that much as David was gorgeous, his voice was not. Good on him – he did something about that. He heard what was getting in the way of his reputation and he dealt with it. He made subtle but important changes to the way he spoke, that shifted how people felt about him. Brand Beckham is to this day a multi-million-pound business.
There are limits to the benefits of the care taken over the content of your words. They can be undermined by how you use your body, face and voice. The ‘other conversation’ is far more powerful.
You have to do four things.
Quality feedback, plus a belief that you can change is your starting point. Then get invested in making the change. My work is about helping people know themselves, shifting unhelpful limiting beliefs, seeing and dealing with their blind spots. The starting point is how you think, sort that and you can undo habits formed around how you walk, talk and look. All are crucial in how you connect with people. How you connect leaves a lasting impression on the impact you have. Achieve positive impact and you are well on your way to the kind of influence you want.