Body language and appearance – the secret messages

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Non-verbal communication

A reminder:  Before we even speak a word, both our body language and our appearance are ‘broadcasting’ messages to anyone who cares to take notice.  This is known as ‘non-verbal’ communication.

Body language is mainly about posture, gestures, and facial expressions; it can reveal clues to our mental attitude (i.e. feelings*, emotions* and intentions).  Displays of body language are a natural and largely subconscious part of who we are.

* Feelings are our external demonstration of our emotions; emotions are our internal reactions to things that happen to us.

Our appearance is about what we wear and how we groom ourselves.  This can be influenced by cultural factors, such as acceptable and traditional garments and colours.  However, more often than not, our appearance is most strongly influenced by our self-image**.

** Self-image is the cornerstone of our personality, it is the mental picture we have of ourselves in terms of our abilities and our appearance; our self-image comprises a combination of self-esteem, self-confidence, and body-image (For more, see:  Building the New You – it’s about personal development).

Whenever we meet with someone, within seconds they will have formed an opinion about us – all from our body language and appearance.  How we carry ourselves, our gestures and expressions, our clothing, jewellery and other accessories, and also our grooming, all have a tale to tell.

At the same time, we will have done exactly the same thing to the other person.  This is often referred to as the ‘first impression’.

First impressions count

There is a saying: “first impressions count”. Many behavioural experts suggest that a first impression is formed in less than 10 seconds (Body language exponent Carol Kinsey Goman advises that we have as few as 7 seconds to make a ‘first’ impression).  By and large, this is a completely subconscious reaction – influenced by our experiences and/or our biases.

Here are four different images of people to illustrate the first impression: consider each image briefly (3-4 seconds), and then respond to the question below it:

Four different images of people to illustrate the first impression: TV host charlie Rose; Maori activist Tama Iti; A 'Lady of the night'; SIA Singapore Girl

Non-verbal communication – body language and appearance influence our ‘first impression’ of someone

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Why job interviews are a two-way street

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Job interviews are about marketing and selling

The beginnings of this Post lie in some discussions that I had with several colleagues a while ago on the subject of our experiences at job interviews.  A common thread in all of these was some rather poor behaviour on the part of an interviewer.  I will recount some of these stories later in the Post.

First, let’s go inside the job interview process, to see what is actually going on.  Here we have two parties, each considering whether the applicant is a good ‘fit’ for the job:

  • the ‘employer side’ is assessing the applicant against the requirements of the job
  • the applicant (You or me) is assessing whether we want to take the job and work for the employer
Your job interview is a two-way street: You are being assessed against the requirements of the job, and you are assessing whether the job is a good fit for you

Your job interview is a two-way street:
You are being assessed against the requirements of the job,
and you are assessing whether the job is a good fit for you

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Teamwork and Leadership – it’s all about the planning!

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Let me begin by adding something to the title:
Teamwork and Leadership – it’s all about the planning and the execution!

At the Adelaide Clipsal 500

I spent a weekend recently at the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercars motor race in Adelaide (South Australia).  The Clipsal is Australia’s largest domestic motorsport event, and runs over four days (Thu-Sun).  Total attendance this year was around 280,000, with about 80,000 spectators on both Saturday and Sunday.

While I confess to being a “petrol-head”, I also take a particular interest in the teamwork, leadership, and planning that is evident throughout the event.  Here are some quick takeouts:

  • in the main race for the V8 Supercars, the defending champion came home in third place after suffering from two poor strategy decisions by his team
  • the new Clipsal 500 champion, who started from 15th on the grid (in a 25-car field), won because of an inspired strategy decision on the part of his team
  • the 2013 V8 Supercars series champion, while leading during the main race, suffered from a lapse in teamwork by his crew, costing him the chance of a win
2013 V8 Supercars Series Champion

2013 V8 Supercars Series Champion

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Unlearning – the new survival skill

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What is ‘unlearning’?

Unlearning – what a counterintuitive term!  It just sounds “wrong” – right?

Well, even if it sounds weird, we will find it in the dictionary (Macmillan, Oxford, etc.) – it means “to change the way that you have learned to think or do things, usually because that way is not good or useful” (Macmillan).

For most of us, ‘unlearning’ has actually been with us throughout most of our lives:

As children at school, we would get to know how our class teacher expected us to act; but whenever we had a change of class teacher, inevitably we had to learn some new ways.  While the change needed may not have been huge, if we ever fell back to our old ways, we could end up in a bit of trouble.  For me, I have clear recollections of the differences between Miss Blackie’s classes and Mrs. Entwhistle’s classes – one was quite relaxed, the other was quite formal.

For those of us who are drivers, and who have switched from a manual car to an automatic, there were new things to learn, and some things to change (or to stop doing).  And, for anyone who has gone the other way, being used to pushing just the brake pedal at a stop sign, we need to remember to use two feet and also push on the clutch pedal (otherwise the car will stall).  Yes – I know that too – from personal experience!

Animated graphic explaining the concept of unlearning - new knowledge replaces old knowledge

Unlearning is about new knowledge replacing old knowledge

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Motivation – why do we do what we do?

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Motivation affects us all

Let me start with a story:

Once upon a time there was a small team.  The people in this team were all highly motivated – they had a passion for what they did, and they always gave 100+% effort.  They were very collaborative with each other, and always a pleasure to work with.

Then, one day, their company was restructured.  Suddenly the team was disbanded – ‘displaced’ was the word.  Almost immediately there was a huge change – the high motivation was gone, replaced by confusion and uncertainty.

For the team members, the challenge was to re-discover their ‘mojos’.  But as they were now all split up, this was mainly a self-help situation, with a bit of help from some friends.  The first need was to find the necessary motivation – that is the key to the recovery.

[This story is true – only names, places, dates, and a few other details have been omitted to protect the innocent!]

Motivation: Why do we do what we do? Word Cloud showing a selection of factors that may motivate us in any given situation

Word Cloud showing a selection of factors that may motivate us in any given situation.

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Categories: Leadership & Management, Learning and Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to use learning styles to make a connection

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Alternate Title: How learning styles can improve our communication skills

Learning styles’ are about how people prefer to receive information.  Research shows that each person has their own unique preference for how they receive and process information.  But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that learning styles are exclusively bound to classrooms and training activities, etc.

Learning styles and Communication

Learning styles can help us whenever we are providing information to someone and are looking to make a connection with them.  Having a working knowledge of learning styles will allow every one of us to improve our communication skills.  Firstly, we will become more effective as ‘presenters’ of information; secondly, when we know what our own preferences are, we can become more effective as ‘receivers’ of information.

Having a working knowledge of learning styles will allow every one of us to improve our communication skills. Visual learners prefer to receive information in a graphical form (diagrams, charts, symbols); Auditory learners prefer to receive information in a spoken form (listening and speaking); Read/Write learners prefer to receive information displayed as words (reading and note-taking); Kinaesthetic learners prefer to receive information through experiences (hands-on, tactile activities).

Applying learning styles can help improve communications

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Why Note-taking is a Survival Skill

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Note-taking is (mostly) about remembering

Why do I say that note-taking is a ‘survival skill’?
Essentially, note-taking (aka note taking, or notetaking) helps us to remember things:

Firstly, because our short-term (or working) memory has only limited capacity, we do not need to ‘hold that thought’ once we have made a note [See Memory mysteries unlocked – with help from Google]

Secondly, some of us (yours truly included) are Read/Write Learners, so note-taking is a part of our learning strategy for committing things to memory [See Improve your learning skills – here’s how]

Thirdly, when we review our notes from an event, especially when it is done within the next 24-hours, we strengthen our memories and improve our recall

Note-taking has other purposes

We are likely to take notes when we:

  • are studying or researching something,
  • need a record from a discussion or meeting, or
  • are collecting information about something.

Apart from helping us to remember things and to keep records, note-taking also allows us to maintain our focus on a topic, develop our ideas, and improve our understanding of something.

Effective note-taking actually begins long before the first word is recorded. The 3 steps for this are: Preparation, Position, Process. This animated graphic gives details for each step.

Effective note-taking requires: Preparation, Position, Process.
Each step involves a number of possible actions.
Watch the animated graphic for some quick tips.

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Building the New You – it’s about personal development

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The New You is about your new Brand – sometimes this is called Brand You.
Successful brands each have their own personality, just as you and I have our own personalities.
Our personality is who we are.  It is formed by a combination of many things that lead to the way we behave –how we think, how (and what) we talk, and how we act.

Our Brand should always be a ‘work in progress’, because we are always growing and developing our talents and capabilities.  At the same time, our Brand must always be consistent with our personality – if the two are not ‘in synch’, we will come across as not being authentic.

At the core of Building the New You is developing our personality.  Our personality is not static throughout our lifetime, it can be changed.  Changes may be voluntary or involuntary.  Being exposed to a traumatic event can lead to an involuntary change of personality.  Voluntary change occurs when we initiate an action which leads to a modification in our behaviour.

Our ‘personality’ is made up of many pieces – just like a jigsaw puzzle.

Our ‘personality’ is made up of many pieces – just like a jigsaw puzzle.

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Employee Engagement and Workplace Politics

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Two recent events have lead to this Post topic:

  • reading press reports about a Gallup Study into global workplace engagement, and
  • a colleague expressing their dislike for the ‘politics’ that happen in most workplaces.

I often hear comments about a dislike for ‘politics at work’.  My colleague’s comment came at the same time that I read about the Gallup Study.  This set me thinking about whether there was any connection between workplace engagement and workplace politics.

So, let’s start with the Gallup Study.  This covers more than 140 countries, and was conducted from 2011 through 2012.  Gallup CEO Jim Clifton’s introduction begins with:

The world economy isn’t growing fast enough, and this is starting to cause some serious problems.  One particular issue that comes to mind is revolution.  Any number of countries suffering from low economic growth and high unemployment could explode in the next few years.

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Brand You – it’s about personal branding

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Brand You is important for one very powerful reason – YOU!

Brand You – i.e. your ‘personal brand’ – is about how You want to be seen by the world. ’Personal branding’ is what we use to show that we are different to others – it is what makes us stand out.

Why personal branding?

Personal branding is about much more than a CV or résumé. It is everything about us – from our ‘online’ presence, to who we are ‘in person’. At the very least, our personal brand is our reputation amongst our connections and our colleagues.

In this highly connected world that we live in, anyone wanting to know about us can easily find multiple sources of information, especially from social media. This can obviously affect anything and everything that we want to do.

Our personal brand is everything about us – including our online profile

Our personal brand is everything about us – including our online profile

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