Madeline Albright wore a serpent pin when negotiating with Saddam Hussein because he called her a serpent. She wore a pin with bug when meeting with Putin after she learned that Russians were wire taping the state department. Albright even wore a wasp pin when she wanted to deliver a stinging message. Her pin collection became a diplomatic tool while in the Clinton Administration. She delivered nonverbal communication through her pins. What pins would you wear: Serpents? Bugs? Wasps?
Non Verbal communication is our way of communicating with our listeners. In fact, we communicate a great deal through nonverbal cues. A frequently quoted, yet inaccurate research study, from the 60’s is states that 80- 90% of our communication is nonverbal. More recent studies state it at 40-60%. Yet, still, that’s a lot of communication just through facial expression, gestures, gazes and body language. Yet, how often do we use mindful, intentional nonverbal communication? Albright was the master.
When she was in confidential talks she’d wear a mushroom pin, because mushrooms grow best in the dark. She trained the press by saying “mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms” and pointed to her mushroom pin. Eventually she just walked across the room, pointed to the mushroom pin and the press left her alone with a smile.
What could you do to intentionally enrich your non verbal style? Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you have a really good poker face during negotiations? Consider how you might shift your face so your listener knows that you approve of the progress made.
- Do you deliver presentations standing in one place? How could you use facial and body gestures to animate your words?
- How could you use silence as nonverbal communication cue? Do you pause to give room to reflect?
- What do you do with your body language when you are enthusiastic? How do you make sure your energy is well received?
- What cues do you look for from a client when in discussions? presentations? How do you know you are on the right track?
- What nonverbal cues trigger you to be reactive and say things you wish you had not said?
Take a moment to consider how you can be more intentional with your nonverbal cues. When all else fails, try a little humor and ask yourself…What pin should I wear to work today?