The brain research of the last few years revolutionizes our usual ways of thinking about communications.  Here’s a summary of what the new science is telling us:

  • We communicate more powerfully through our bodies than our words;
  • Communication is mostly unconscious, and, unless we become aware of it because of some extraordinary moment or action, out of reach of our conscious minds;
  • Our bodies tell us what to do and how to feel, based in large part on what everyone else around us is doing;
  • We make decisions unconsciously, and only find out about them consciously after the fact; and,
  • Our conscious minds make up explanations afterwards for why we said what we said, or felt what we felt, or did what we did.

If we can tap into the hidden power that these findings reveal, we can take charge in meetings, dominate groups, and speak in front of audiences with charisma and persuasive eloquence – no matter what the subject or the occasion.   We can lead people through the unconscious communication power our bodies give us.  We don’t need words – at least, not as many as we think – but rather we need gesture and sound.

With the right gestures and vocal tones, in short, anyone can take over a group and lead it, creating an instant tribe with herself at its head.   In large part, the ease with which someone who is trained can manage this control comes from our desire to align our brain patterns with our leaders through interpersonal communications.  We feel safest and happiest when we’re doing so.

You can master group dynamics with your voice, your hands, and your posture.  You can learn how to shape, control, and prompt the natural, unconscious responses people have in groups.

And of course, you can learn how to control your own unconscious mind so that it does your bidding.  In some ways, that’s the most important kind of control, isn’t it?

You can jump start your leadership – or propel it to the next level – with these techniques.  More in later blog posts. 

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  1. …All of which explains why so many actors make it big in politics. They’ve got the body language thing going, if not the values to back it up. But, often, all that only seems to add up to… faking it?

    Nick this is fascinating stuff, a wonderful post, and I can see that it is right up your alley. I can’t wait to read your future posts.

    But of course I don’t agree with you on everything. And one of the things that mere technique does not address is the value system behind your conscious, and unconscious, minds. Your unconscious mind is hopefully driven by your values, if you have them, and nobody can be an authentic leader without real values.

    If all it took was body language, atmosphere, and similar techniques, then we should all just take acting lessons.

    And I don’t think that technique would ever be enough to make a great leader, or an authentic culture, or any of the things to which we should all aspire.

    1. Hi, Elizabeth — thanks for your comment, and of course you’re right. It’s not about technique, in the end, it’s about digging down deep to find emotional truths. But the new news is that you can take charge of your unconscious experience of life and put it to work for you instead of undercutting you with fear, anxiety, diffidence, hesitation, and all those other ways the brain can hold you back.

      1. Thanks, Nick, totally agree with you there. It’s a topic I also explore by looking at how other species communicate amongst themselves, dogs, birds, horses, bees, etc. As well, you can play around with your own body language by learning to communicate with animals yourself. Your blog is one of the places I look to help me in my experiments with animals, believe it or not. And then, it comes around again when I communicate with the people in my world.

        Very grateful to you for your work!

        1. Fascinating, Elizabeth — I’ve certainly seen the way humans and dogs communicate via body language, but beyond that I haven’t gone very far. I’d love to hear more about how you do it.

  2. Great post, Nick. Excellent to read such a strong emphasis on embodied cognition. Thinking about Elizabeth’s comments I see that actors have transferred their skills to be successful and innovative in a huge array of professions other than those associated with the arts. Amongst other things they have become politicians, aided politicians and even shot politicians. Nothing fake about that!

      1. Thanks for thinking of me, Nick.

        I’ve been busy with books (something you are well used to). Just before the newyear the second book in the Winning Body Language series was published – Winning Body Language for Sales which builds on the first, but with some until now unpublished techniques around something called the DoorPlane and TablePlane, along with all the original GesturePlane work placed into a sales context. Excuse me for the shameless plug with the following video link

        And within the last few days my new book Tame The Primitive Brain: 28 Ways in 28 Days to Manage the Most Impulsive Behavior at Work has released. You can check it out and maybe have some fun via this video link This book looks at how to control your reactive behaviors to others by controlling the environment around you.

        I think you, Nick given the direction you are thinking so clearly in about how behavior can effect cognition would be interested in both – so do let me know if you’d like to review them.

        Loving your recent series of blogs. If this is an indication of your new books content then congratulations. Great stories, solid content and helpful advice.

        1. Hi, Mark — delighted to review the books, and congratulations! And yes, the blogs are initial thoughts that will end up in the book in an evolved form….I’m hoping…..

  3. The insights described are very interesting, thank you for posting. I can certainly see how influential body language is in the face to face communications that are becoming increasingly rare in some businesses. Any advice for applying some of these insights to a remote working environment or for the many times one has to give presentations over the phone? Any comments on how good (or not) video is as a substitute for the face to face in light of the brain research findings?

    1. Hi, Maureen –

      Thanks for your comment. It’s a question I get asked all the time — everyone is experiencing the same issue. Unfortunately the answer is that phone or other virtual forms of communication are simply not as rich as face to face, precisely because so much of the nonverbal experience is reduced or cut out or lessened. That said, there are a number of things you can do to put energy and ‘information’ back in to the communication. I’ve blogged and written about those things before, and it’s a subject I often talk about. Stay tuned for some future video on the subject.

      Video itself is interesting. There’s not space here for all the issues, but the short version is that video watching sends viewers to their ‘happy place’ — and they have the brain waves to match. The brain waves you emit when watching video, depending on various factors, approach the brain waves of sleep. So it’s relaxing. That has both good points and bad for communicators…..

      1. Thank Nick your comment about the use of video having the effect of sending viewers to their “happy place” put a smile on my face :). I know exactly what you mean but hadn’t thought about the use of video being able to accomplish that. Your comment about the brain waves emitted are very interesting. I look forward to your additional blogs on this subject.

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