Monday, May 17, 2010

Body Language: Listening To What They Won't Tell You

When I was in my 20's I owned a small, but profitable, construction company. I started with 1 employee and within weeks had to hire another, business was good, and life was fairly simple. After several months, however, as our level of skill and our reputation grew more and more opportunity's arose, and I had to place a number of men on several different jobsites, and at this point things became more difficult for me as a manager. All at once I had to start dealing with personnel issues all business owners have to face in the course of their careers, such as tardiness and absenteeism, disputes between employees, clients who either didn't pay on time ... or occasionally not at all, workers turning in inaccurate/fraudulent time sheets, and a host of other problems where I really couldn't tell what the real truth of the matter was. I found myself constantly wondering how other managers dealt with these problems, and who, if anyone, I could trust!

As I struggled with these issues I happened to stumble upon a book titled " How to Read a Person Like a Book", it sounded to me like it might be just what I needed. As I purchased the book and made my way home with it I was more skeptical than anything else, but thought, if nothing else, it was a good place to start and might make an interesting read. When I got home I started flipping through the pages, looking at the illustrations, and reading a paragraph here and there. I immediately recognized many of the unconscious behavior's, postures, and gesticulations not only in previous observations of other peoples behavior, but also in my own! I was a skeptic no more! The book was full of tips on how to read a person's body, head, and eye movements and, to some extent, discern how they felt about what they were saying, or in some cases not saying. The book went on to say that while not an exact science, coupled with a relative familiarity with the person you were observing, these skills would quite often be the difference between knowing what was really being communicated, or being baffled by BS.

Needless to say, as I am writing about it here and now, I found it to be a useful tool, and not only to determine what my employees were thinking, but also, I've found that knowledge of several of these silent communicative expressions are useful in helping one to add a little " oomph " to a sales presentation, or to emphasize a point in any discussion. Whenever I see a new book on the subject at the bookstore or at the library I always buy it, check it out, or at least give it a browse ... the information is just to useful to ignore!

Here is a short list of great books on the subject ... see what you think!

How To Read A Person Like A Book
by Gerard Nierenberg

I Know What You're Really Thinking
by Marc Mogil

Field Guide To Gestures: How To Identify And Interpret
by Nancy Armstrong

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