Have you ever wished you could read a lover’s mind? Or better yet, influence what your boss thinks of you? While The Nonverbal Advantage won’t bestow those wonderful mystical powers upon you, it can give you the tools to understand what other people think but don’t say, and it can help you project an image that others will find appealing and trustworthy.
Author Carol Kinsey Goman makes her living as a consultant and coach, helping managers improve their communication skills. Trained in Neuro-Linguistic Programming among other disciplines, she’s an expert in reading body language and is quick to point out that this it true for all of us. “As children we assimilated those gestures and expressions that were appropriate… in our cultures.”
In The Nonverbal Advantage, Goman explains why body language carries so much influence and how we can us it to our advantage. In the workplace, for instance, leadership skills depend heavily upon the ability to communicate. Because employees seldom feel free to say what they really think, being able to recognize the subtler messages sent out is a critical skill for supervisors. The same is true for educators (“…learners at all levels reacted more favorable to teachers who used non-verbal immediacy cues…”) and for salespeople (“Making or breaking a sale often depends on… nonverbal signals…”). Healthcare providers, Goman tells us, are less likely to be sued when they exhibit nonverbal expressions of “clinical empathy.”
According to Goman, a new acquaintance forms an opinion of us in about seven seconds. Our body language, including what we wear and how we shake hands, is the basis for that opinion. Just like Mom always told us, it’s this first impression that counts because, though it may seem superficial and unfair, it often determines whether or not we get the job, the sale, or the date.
The Nonverbal Advantage is packed full of interesting and useful information, neatly categorized and easily understandable. Beginning with the five Cs of body language (context, clusters, congruence, consistency, and culture), Goman explains how to determine when a specific gesture is revealing secrets or just a reaction to weather.
Following a chapter about whole body communication, the author offers helpful tips for recognizing postures that reflect openness, defensiveness, or hostility. In this section she also explains ‘mirroring’ and how to use it for establishing rapport.
Facial expressions, of course, are part of the package and perhaps the cues we’re most used to reading. But can you tell the difference between a fake smile and a genuine smile? Goman explains how to make that distinction and how to produce the real thing whenever you want to be perceived as friendly and approachable. Speaking of approachable, did you know there’s a difference between the way you should physically approach men and women?
If you’ve ever been chided for talking with your hands, you’ll be glad to know that using hand gestures is not only the oldest form of human communication, but also an integral part of business communication. As she does throughout the book, Goman explains how to interpret the various gestures and how to use them to better convey your message.
And here’s something you may not have considered – the feet are the most honestly expressive parts of the body!
In addition to analysis of body parts, Goman also addresses the importance of cultural signals. Greetings, head nods, length of eye contact, and hand signals have different meanings in different parts of the world, and business professionals would do well to learn how to recognize and adapt them.
Whether you’re going for a job interview, making a business presentation, or simply want to gain a better understanding of yourself and others, The Nonverbal Advantage is a valuable resource for learning and using the powerful language of the body.