By Andrew Deutsch
In business it’s important to not just hear what a buyer or interviewer is saying but also to know what is going on under the surface. This is also key for all business communication.
When people communicate, they provide a lot of information beyond the words they are saying. Improv training teaches you to listen in a powerful way – to pay close attention to people’s body language as well as their words.
Film Director Milos Forman once said in an interview that if you really want to know what’s going on with a person, look at what they are doing with their hands.
People will steeple their fingers (fingertips together like a church steeple) more often when they are confident. Steepling is important to get the point across that they feel strongly about what they are saying. It is a powerful display of confidence.
I have observed that when people are stressed, they will possibly rub their hands together. When people are sitting at a table and feel the need to be centered and safe, they frequently cover one hand or wrist with their other hand.
When people have their palms facing up, they are generally inviting an open and balanced discussion. Con artists know this trick, and they can use it to their advantage. To distinguish lying from truth you need to pay attention to their other body language. For example, does their facial expression show an inconsistency? Signs of incongruity will appear somewhere if they are deceiving you.
When people have their palms down, they are generally not open to suggestion – it’s usually their way or the highway!
One of the key things you want to observe is posture. If the person is standing up straight with their shoulders back, this is a power position. If the person is slouching, this projects less power.
It’s important to look for cues in the person’s face. If you see a person puff out their cheeks, they are rejecting the experience they are having. If their eyebrows are furrowed, it means that they are worried or stressed. Keep checking out people’s eyes, because as Shakespeare said “the eyes are the window to your soul.”
Clearly, there is much information that people reveal with their body language. This is usually missed because we are so focused on our agenda. This often results in a lack of understanding, difficult negotiations and lost sales. The next time you are in an office meeting or in an interview, besides focusing on what the person is verbally saying, observe their body language. This opens a new door to communication.
“I attended a number of Andrew’s workshops and was very impressed by his ability to leverage his knowledge and great sense of humor in teaching people improv skills. I would recommend Andrew to anyone who’s serious about moving forward in their business lives, and having fun at the same time!”
− Fred Antaki, Broker Associate, Main Street Realtors, Santa Cruz, California