Anne-Maartje Oud | Make Powerful First Impressions By Mastering These Body Language Hacks

In today’s episode, we cover body language and emotional intelligence with Anne-Maartje Oud. Anne is a behavioral advisor, trainer, and the CEO & founder of The Behaviour Company based in Amsterdam.

Your behavior plays an essential role in getting your message across, so what can you do to make sure your message doesn’t get lost, why is emotional validation crucial if you want to be a great leader, and how should you prepare for and handle conflict in the workplace?

What to Listen For

  • The biggest myths about reading body language – 1:30
  • What can reading body language tell you about someone and what can it NOT tell you?
  • What questions can you ask yourself to find out what external and internal factors might be influencing your body language?
  • What can you do if you are over analyzing your communication to the detriment of your relationships and career?
  • The brain-body connection and how you feel – 18:05
  • What are easy ways you can convey trustworthiness in the workplace?
  • What changes can you make to boost the effectiveness of your speaking and presentation style through Zoom?
  • What are pacifying behaviors and why do we need to be on the lookout for them when talking to someone or a group of people?
  • The importance of validation in the workplace – 36:46 
  • What is emotional validation and why do you need to have a handle on it if you want to be an effective leader?
  • What kind of feedback should you avoid giving if you want to lead your team effectively?
  • DOs and DON’Ts of dealing with conflict in the workplace – 46:30
  • What are the 4 ways people use to deal with conflict and which ways should you avoid if you don’t want to lose your relationships?
  • What can you do to prepare yourself emotionally for a difficult conversation or confrontation so you don’t lose your cool when it matters?
  • What advice surrounding body language should you avoid at all cost? 

A person’s body language communicates a great deal about the person, but it’s not magic. In order to effectively understand body language, it’s important to dispel some of the myths surrounding body language so you know its limits. Body language can give you a glimpse into what a person might be feeling at that moment, but it cannot tell you what they’re thinking. 

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Resources from this Episode

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Speaker 1: I'm J and I'm Johnny, thank you everyone for tuning into the show. Let's kick off today's interview today. We're talking with on Marta. OOD on is a behavioral advisor trainer and the CEO and founder of the behavior company based in Amsterdam, as we all know your behavior plays an essential role in getting your message across. And we got a lot of great feedback from you guys about our episode with Joe Navarro reached out to him to ask about other body language and communications experts that he personally recommends. And his immediate response was you need to talk to Ann. In fact, Joe and Anne coauthored, several articles for psychology today, including their latest viral article, the importance of validation and also lectures at several universities in the Netherlands. It is regularly hired as a specialist speaker on behavior and its effects. Welcome to the show, Anne. So great to have you with us.

Speaker 1: Thank you. One of the biggest myths that I think a lot of people have around reading body language is really just focusing on the body language itself and thinking that they can almost read the other person's mind and we enjoyed. And another discussion you had another interview, how you talked about there's much more that goes into reading and analyzing body language than just the signals that are being sent. There's the environment, there's the context there's who you're also speaking to and how you're reacting to them. So let's talk a little bit about what are these myths around reading body language and what can analyzing body language teach us and what can it teach us?

Speaker 3: Thank you for the question. I think it most important thing is realizing that it's not just body language as, okay, what do we do? But also attire. What do we wear? What is, uh, what is behind us on our screen? But a lot of people think that if they look into body language that they think they, they, they found the cute of the, the key to the matrix. Like now I know everything and they, when they observe people, they have this belief that they know everything already. Oh, this is that kind of person. And I know exactly how this person thinks. And that's a shame because I love it when people become aware of body language, but it cannot teach us what other persons are thinking, or actually what's going on in their mind.

Speaker 2: If you can correct me from, I believe it was Laura Wong, who we had interviewed when her book edge. And she talked about how it is important to tell your story or other people are going to tell your story. And of course, if they don't know that information, they're just going to put all these pieces together and it couldn't be farther from the truth. And you have that opportunity when you first meet people to give them that story and give them those pieces. So they're not randomly grasping at straws. And I certainly have family members who I, I recognize all the time, who just infer all these things about people without any research, any thought is speaking to them. And of course that drives their behaviors around these people. Yes,

Speaker 3: There's so many myths around it. And so many we'd like to draw conclusions very quickly. We want comfort. Our brain likes it if, oh, that must be that. Because then at least I have the safety of this thought or this, um, uh, reassurance. So we kind of might do it for ourselves, but it can become even dangerous. I would say I would sound like a big word, but it is. If you change your behavior or adapt your behavior based on only what you've observed and it is important to observe, but, uh, not draw every conclusion from it. Well,

Speaker 2: It's very interesting, but we were talking about my background earlier and just the way I look for a lot of people, when they, if they see the YouTube video though, it, their first thought is what is this guy, musician? So with this backdrop, it answers that question and they can, and for me, it's like, hopefully you're focusing now on what I'm saying rather than how I look.

Speaker 3: Yeah. But did you do a deliberately, did you choose, choose specifically? This is what I want to ch what I want to some background. Yeah. Yes.

Speaker 2: For that specific reason I wanted that question answered. So it's not in people's heads.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Well, and then it's very helpful if we make a conscious decision, like this is the background, this is what I want to be perceived at. Or maybe that you want to distraction to go to animal, which is so lovely in the corner. It's very bright and funny. So yeah, it's, it's very important. And especially these days when we have these digital conversations going on, a lot of people are not aware of their background. We've seen amazing videos, of course, with things going on in the background where everybody's distracted and it's funny, but in a way you can also say, is this what you want to ooze out? Is this what you want to be perceived at?

Speaker 1: This is one of the first times we've ever really had to consider environment because many of us were coming into a workplace that decided the environment for us. Now we get to pick our background. And our background says a lot about us, just like our nonverbal communication and our verbal communication does. Yes,

Speaker 3: Exactly. And I have even heard a lot of people that start with funny backgrounds because okay. We were in all full settings. True. So people wanted to have some novelty, some funny elements behind it, but up to the point where people started taking each other less seriously, oh, he's the guy who's always portraying something funny in the background. And, uh, yeah, it has cost situations in businesses as well.

Speaker 1: Now in mainstream media here in America, we often encounter body language experts, communication experts who are analyzing politicians or celebrities behavior. So we'll watch a video and they'll break down all of these body language signals. And it leaves the audience thinking that, wow, this body language expert can read someone's mind and they understand communication at such a great level. Can you tell us a little bit about your origin story and what you're doing at the behavior?

Speaker 3: Yeah. Thank you for their question. Well, I started as a, uh, at the academy of art. So officially I'm a director you could say from theater and all those kinds of things. One of the elements that we were taught is, okay, how do you portray yourself on stage? So you advise people in this case, actors, is it what I, what I want to see as a director is that visible? Is it, is it showing on stage? And in my last year, I was asked to talk into, at a company about presentation techniques and the CEO's had to present numbers to a big audience, and they wanted to become aware of stage presence. And for me, it was remarkable because nobody knew anything about body language, I would say. And they were in all like, oh, if I look at my audience in a broader view, it is more effective. I didn't know that. So that was one of the reasons why I started my work for guessing everything about theater, but using it in my line of work, in the behavior company.

Speaker 1: So when it comes to communication, we know it's important in business. And many of us haven't really been trained in how to communicate effectively at work. So what is some of the work that you do in the workplace with companies that hire the behavior company?

Speaker 3: Yeah. Making them aware. That's I would say that's one of the biggest things we do, especially higher up people do not get feedback anymore. Some people are afraid to talk to their CEO. They're like, oh, let's not, let's not give this person feedback. So one of the things we do is make them aware. Do you realize how you come across? And if you realize how you come across, is that the way you want to come across? And if not, of course, we help them with more effective behavior. So to change it in a better way so that it becomes better and more effective.

Speaker 2: So in this, uh, making people more aware, it's certainly being aware of their body language and how it affects themselves and the people in the room. Uh, are you making them aware of the certain forces pressures that are in the work environment that they should be conscious of that would have an unconscious impact on their body, language and behaviors?

Speaker 3: Yes. You make them aware on the themes. They just think, oh, I have something I want to get across. Let's go to the content and I'll address it to my peers, but to make them understand that there are certain elements in there. Yes. Context is important. Yes. Setting is important. Yes. Timing is important. Emotions are important just by addressing that. They start to realize, oh, communication might be a bit more difficult than I think it is. I just want to get a message across. And by making them aware of that, uh, it's helpful. Not just for them, but also for others, because other side, like, oh, he's, they are improving in their communication.

Speaker 2: Are there any pressures that you would be able to point to for our listeners, for them to be conscious of when they go to work to take a look at, to see whether or not it's hindering their performance or adding and helping their performance.

Speaker 3: I always say, are you comfortable? That's where it starts first. Do you feel comfortable with what you're doing? Because if you show up and you're already nervous and you, you have a certain behavior that it doesn't suit you, that that's where it starts. Do you realize who you are, what you bring to the table and if you feel comfortable, then the next step is okay. Are you observant of other people? What do they do? Do they avoid you is to proximity different, you know, they're, they get away from you. Are they focusing on you? Are they nodding their heads? So what I always look for is the, the comfort for both parties. Um, and, and you see that one day when people start doing that also young people, then they understand, oh, I I'm growing here. I'm not just being uncomfortable in my line of work, adapting to what is needed, but I feel comfortable as well as the other person.

Speaker 2: It's certainly important to be aware of that. And especially as human beings, because as you mentioned, we are so adaptable. In fact, we've been able to adapt to some of the harshest environments in the world and not only survive, but thrive. So to have those check-ins to, to be honest with yourself is incredibly important.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Aren't we amazing as humans

Speaker 1: In our experience, one of the biggest problems or issues that a lot of our clients face when they start this journey of looking at their communication is they over analyze themselves and it becomes very difficult for them, as you said, to actually listen and observe and put the focus outward in their communication. So in our classroom, we'll do video work and we'll tape our clients interacting with one another and then play it back. And it's remarkable how different that view that we have internally of ourself is from what the actual external world sees. But we often have to tell them it's important, not to just focus on every little thing that you're doing and all of those minutia instead it's to, as you said, focus more on what is the response? What's the reaction and how are people perceiving me? Not so much exactly what I'm doing at any given moment. So what guidance do you have for your clients who might be over analyzing their own communication to the detriment of the audience? Don't

Speaker 3: Aim for perfection, because you will never be able to be perfect in your communication, but being aware and striving for progress, especially when you start in the beginning of your job. Okay, what did, what went wrong? Analyze that? How can I change it? How can I adapt? But also talk to others. You know, you don't have to do it by yourself all the time. And, uh, find information, realize that you're not finished. You're not a finished project and you will never be a finished project. I mean, that, that at least that's my belief. There's always something to learn and to strive for, but never, never make the mistake on freezing because this is what happens a lot. And I think it's great that you take people, but also when people see themselves on video, it's like, oh no, they become. So self-aware that the behavior kind of mean they freeze up, it's smaller. They don't dare to move at all. And that's one of the biggest mistakes I would say. You could, you could make

Speaker 2: So two things that I want to point to there. And number one is due to, and we had talked about this many times on the show that technology is now influencing how we interact with people in real life and all of our interactions online for the most part, with it's asynchronous. So you can think about your reply. You can think about how you want to respond to things and how you want to react. And that gives people this safety zone, where they can come up with the perfect thing, but when it comes to real life, they cannot do that. And as you mentioned, and we, and AIG have a, a business coach, he always says that, uh, perfection is the enemy of done. And because, because of that, and as you mentioned, people get in this place where, because they're unable to think about the responses, they would rather not have to deal with being imperfect and avoid a lot of these things.

Speaker 2: And then also we were talking about the video work and how some people can get stuck in it. And this is specifically why we don't give the video to our clients. We go over it with them, we're all watching it together. We're pointing things out and we're saying, here's what you're going to take from it. Here's what you're going to leave with it. And they, oh, can I have my video? No, because you're going to end up playing it on a loop in your mind. And by the end, within four hours, or you sleeping over playing in your brain tomorrow, you will up, it's completely frozen, afraid to do anything. It happens more frequently than that. And it's, it's quite interesting. However, when you show here's what we're taking out of it, here's, here's this, these are things that are helping you in this situation, and this is your target for what you want to aim for and bring some more conscious effort towards it. They feel great because they saw the results on video. And sometimes it is an instant change just from the shock of seeing themselves.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Yeah. I fully agree. And, and what I ask my clients sometimes to do when I, when they look back only mention three good things. So don't mention what you think is wrong. Don't think what is so, because we all find little or maybe even big things that we could do differently, but what is good at what you did? What did, what was that element in your behavior, in your communication where you thought, oh, actually I want to take that with me in my journey, in life or in my journey and work. And, uh, making them aware through video is brutal, but very helpful.

Speaker 2: Every note is how many of the world's highest performers take on challenges that are completely outside of their expertise.

Speaker 1: We're talking Jeff Bezos launching himself into space. LeBron James producing films, Oprah Winfrey opening a school in South Africa, Kobe Bryant, writing children's books, Drake, creating a whiskey brand

Speaker 2: Accident. These high achievers take on such lofty endeavors. They have extreme confidence.

Speaker 1: These people have won so often in life that they believe they can tackle challenges that seem unattainable to the average person.

Speaker 2: Here's the trick you see, winning creates confidence. The more you experience wins in your life, the greater your confidence grows.

Speaker 1: This is why when we're coaching clients, we show them exactly how to achieve micro wins every single day, because in the wind start piling up, your confidence automatically follows. You finally had that conversation with a coworker you avoided for the last three weeks. When you scheduled an appointment with a trainer to finally start getting back into shape when you attended a community event last night, so you can meet new people,

Speaker 2: That's a win. How are you creating micro wins each day so that you can gain more confidence?

Speaker 1: Well, if you're not, and you're ready to start. Stacking wins in your life. Text us wins at 9 1 7 7 2 0 4 1 4. And let us help you win at work love and life that's. Plus 1 9 1 7 7 2 0 4 1 0 4, text wins. Pause the podcast now and join us. I think another big part of it is our clients get an opportunity to be filmed later. After they've learned how to use their body language, to communicate with greater impact and influence, and for them to see that growth on video and see the change in the reaction as people now perceive them differently, that's really powerful. That's empowering versus freezing. And one of the things that we love is how our body language influences our mood and the mood of those around us. What does the science showing us on that brain body connection and how linked our body language is to how we feel emotionally?

Speaker 3: Yeah, that is a good question. Well, one of the people who explain it perfectly would be Amy Cuddy. When you read her book presence, you see what we can do with our body helps us internally, but also sometimes with clothing, you know, you see that people who wear uniforms, um, all of a sudden be ha they, they have a different attack. When, when did tired is different, they become different. They feel more powerful. Of course, research. We all know research that has been done with putting on a lab code and telling this person, okay, you have a different, uh, you, you are, you're perceived different when you have a different attire, but you also feel different. And you see this with, uh, people who wear uniforms. They point they're more poised, you could say, yeah, definitely

Speaker 1: Agree on the even men wearing suits. You know, we see that with our clients, that when they go out, if they wear a more professional attire, they end up embodying a more professional communication style. And that influence is also felt by the audience. And that's, what's so fun about the video

Speaker 3: Work. I once was allowed to teach about self-marketing and presentation, and one person stood out, um, because his suit was three sizes too big. So, you know, I addressed it. And 18 months later, he almost ran up to me because we met again in a, in a different setting. And he said, I never realized how important a different suit can be, because what happened, people gave him more compliments, but also people came towards him. His networking became better because he had a different suit that made him feel different, but also made him look less sloppy. You could say,

Speaker 2: I love all that. And to add to that for myself as a musician, I perform quite regularly and I will dress according to what I want to project from the stage, or I will also dress to be a certain character that will fit in with the band that I am playing. So I I'll use dress as something that will, uh, help me perform and project something or to fit in and move the whole visual to a, to a different place. And so I can fully understand that. And I can also say at times, there's has been some Halloween shows or shows that we had dressed up outside of character, just for fun, for an effect and how odd I had felt in dealing with that. Um, because it had altered not only my playing, how I felt on stage and when I'm in front of people in that capacity, I want to feel as comfortable as possible because I want to elevate to the music. I don't want to be second guessing or being self-conscious while all these people were staring at me and that outfit could do that.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So they're focusing on not focusing on the music, but like, what is he wearing? Definitely. Yeah. What were you wearing AIG when, when it was Halloween?

Speaker 1: Oh, so for me, I like going with the scrubs going with the uniform. So playing doctor, I was a pre-med student back in the day. So I, I find scrubs to be comfy, but also give you that effect, that impact in a costume. Now you mentioned Amy Cuddy and one of our favorite quotes from her that she discusses becoming trustworthy. We often make the mistake in work situations of showing off our skills and our strengths before showing that we are trustworthy. And I know many in our audience are at that point in their career where they're looking to get ahead, looking to become a leader and being trustworthy is going to be one of those markers for success in your career. What are some of the easiest ways that we can begin to communicate that we are trustworthy in the workplace?

Speaker 3: Yeah, that's a great question. One of the things I, again, would address is know yourself, who am I, and what do I bring? What do I bring to the table? Because trustworthiness starts with knowing yourself because you have to be genuine. You have to realize if, if you, if you are quiet, if you're an introvert, be that person don't try to be somebody else. Um, but also realize what does the effect, what is the effect? And if you know that, then you can, you can communicate about who you are and what the, again, what the effect is that you have, but knowing yourself and knowing what your behavior is, and actually being genuine about that and knowing your qualities and pitfalls that come with that, that is really helpful becoming trustworthy. And I would also say one of the elements is knowing what you cannot do. So being open and maybe even kind of, um, how would we say this humble, uh, when it comes to starting, because sometimes I work with young people, young clients, and they think they can do anything. So they're so focused on going up that ladder and they have this ambition showing off their skills, but knowing that you are still be, or you're be humble, try to figure out things that helps as well.

Speaker 1: I definitely agree with that. I think many of us, when we fall into the showing off and trying to prove ourselves, we actually tip towards faking it until we make it, which actually sends the wrong signals, makes us less trustworthy and puts people on edge subconsciously. And I think one of the greatest signals that we talk about in our program is just working on the confidence to hold eye contact when speaking. So I know many in our audience early in their career, if they don't feel that they belong in the room, they're struggling with imposter syndrome or self doubt and can be really difficult to look people in the eyes when you're communicating, but that does convey a level of confidence and start to build that trust that you need in a leadership role. Yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah, exactly. And also realizing that when you come into a room, it's, it's not just eye contact, but also where do you sit at the table? Do you dare to take up some space, put your stuff on the table, or do you really harvest everything around you? These little things, you know, and when it comes to body language, when you feel that you're genuine, when you feel you have confidence, uh, it shows and people, people, when you show confidence, people immediately see you as more trustworthy. And this

Speaker 2: Brings up an interesting point. That is, that is happening today. And I would love to hear your thoughts on this. You're were discussing th you were talking about the little things and the niceties and where to sit and this and that. And there's a lot of that just comes from a lot of socialization, especially as a child, as you're learning these things in, you're learning to be cooperative with the other children, you're learning to read, uh, subconsciously the microexpressions. And we're now going in the, almost what year, two of this pandemic, where, where these children are wearing masks, where they're separated, where they're not interacting. And what do you see in the future? That's and what are your thoughts on for these children where perhaps they can, uh, compensate for what they're losing at school?

Speaker 3: Let let's not forget that even with a mask, we can still see a lot in nonverbal communication. We're wired to see everything else now. And especially children. I had an interaction the other day wearing a mask in a Metro, and we were smiling, but, well, of course they couldn't see my mouth, but you can see it in the eyes and, you know, you can make your eyes bigger. So a lot is still drawn from a non-verbal communication without a mask. But I think that, um, the interaction, which would be different because a lot of people are on zoom or digital homeschooling. That is very interesting. What's going to happen there if people are of, for instance, proximity. Um, I would say there was, there was a reason to a situation where people went back to school or children went back to school and they were all in shock because they've kind of forgotten how the other persons were behaving.

Speaker 3: Uh, so the, the, the, you know, the, the, um, the way they behaved was different than when it was digital. So I think it's, it's going to be a challenge for people to pick up on who, how are we interacting even with myself, you know, a lot of sessions, I do our life, of course, there in large audiences. So you are addressing a lot of people, uh, and you can read the body language of course, in a different way when you see the whole body. But, uh, yeah. It's, I even have two different to go back to it and to see a lot of things going on, you have a lot of impulses. People have to be calm about it even, or they have to, uh, readjust.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think it's like a, re-entry almost, we've talked about this on the show. Uh, I'm feeling social anxiety, even though we teach clients how to communicate more effectively, simply because this experience has gone away for the last year and a half. I hadn't been in the room with other people and he mentioned presenting. And I think this is a real challenge now because, uh, when we were taught to speak on stage, we're taught to take up a little bit more space, actually work the stage. We have more ability to use our hands to communicate. And here we are communicating over video and we have this nice little tiny box here. So how have you changed your presentation, style and skills over zoom versus being in front of an audience? And you, you brought up a key point right now. We don't have that ability to read the audience and their response. You know, we don't have a thousand little tiny boxes that we can stare at while we're presenting to see those cues back as a speaker. So how have you adjusted to speaking in this new environment digitally?

Speaker 3: Yeah. I still try to observe some, seeing Johnny adjusting his hair and everything's on chicer reasons. No, that's just an observation. Um, one of the things, if I reflect on myself, I had to tone it down. When you say you work, the stage is it starts when you, when you present yourself, it doesn't start. When you start your speech on stage. It starts when you enter this venue, when you're in the building, everything. And now it's just, okay, five minutes before you put on the video and it starts. So that is an adjustment from my side that I had to get into the, to the setting by myself without being in a venue where you chat a bit with others. So that was a big adjustment. There's

Speaker 2: An atmosphere there when you're alive and you're in-person, and there's an energy from the, that that fires you up or, or puts you in a position where you have to work a little bit more for it. And it's, you don't have that on the screen. And, and it's difficult. We're all adjusting where human beings, we can adapt to anything. But I know I certainly miss being in the room with, with, with people and feeding off their energy and, and using that to propel myself into either playing on stage or to, to network.

Speaker 3: Yes, it's hard because for you, you don't exactly, as you say, you don't feel the energy, but I would say even worse, sometimes people are not aware of their behavior. So they're watching somewhere else or they're different. I even had somebody and I made that very personal, who was laying like this during his speech being a bloody language expert. I addressed it, which was fantastic because we could use it in the, in the setting, but it is, it's very, very difficult to one, not make it personal, how people are on the other side, but also to get yourself energized on, okay, I have to create an energy or a vibe that normally would come with everybody being present and in a venue,

Speaker 2: Interesting point. And why I love what we do is I consider it somewhat of a super power. You're conscious of all these things. Especially if you work so hard on yourself, you can only see them now in other people. And there has been times, and I'm going to guess this is true for you too, where it's like, I wish I didn't know what I knew as I just what I was because of what I just saw. Yes.

Speaker 3: Yes. And that's absolutely true. And I would say also, I may, what we talked about earlier, not making the mistake of thinking that, you know, what's going on. So the story I would love to share, because it was so funny to me, I was, I was teaching in a university and everybody was on their phone and I felt left out. Like I I'm doing all of this. I'm really working hard. And I addressed it being blunt and Dutch, of course, but also because it is about body language turned out and they showed me that they were taking notes on their phone. So sometimes you observe something, you think, oh, this is what's going on. I'm not, I'm not good enough. Or I'm not interacting in a positive way. And still you make the mistake. Oh, yes. I didn't check what it was. So I draw a conclusion that is not, uh, that is not true. Yeah.

Speaker 1: That's certainly a cognitive distortion that we all have as humans that we personalize people's behaviors and reactions around us, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with us. And that's a pitfall that we will have often when reading body language, where you talk a lot about those self-soothing mechanisms, and you can read that as, oh, I'm boring on stage, or this person isn't interested when actually the air might've just kicked on and it got chilly in the room. So we have to use the signals, but understand that the signals are imperfect. And we have a proclivity to assume that it has to do with us when sometimes these signals have nothing to do.

Speaker 2: This is why we teach the cognitive distortions along with our classes so that people can understand that they're going to draw conclusions, that we need to challenge them before they put their foot in their mouth. Yes, exactly.

Speaker 3: Well, I'm happy you do that because it's so important that we realize this and especially, it's also to become aware, like what can I do and what can I not have? What is so sorry to realize, what can I do, but also what can I not do? And for me, it's about pacifying behavior. I'm so alert when it comes to pacifying behavior, that, that, because I look for this comfort level for both parties. And if I see certain behavior that might be come from this comfort, I always realized I always reflect, oh, is there something I did wrong? Should I do something differently? But we should know, of course that is not always the case. Sometimes it's just people who want to enhance their, you know, the feeling or that they just, um, are a bit distracted. Yeah.

Speaker 1: So what are some of these pacifying behaviors that you encounter?

Speaker 3: Well, there are hundreds, hundreds, TJ. So when it comes to, uh, pacifying behavior, you could say, it's usually focused on touching yourself, but that pacifying behavior can be women, you know, playing with their hair, but it could also be stroking your cheek or just these little things that we do. Um, but when it comes to stressful situation, so this is small when it's more stressful, you see more emphasis on it. So what you see sometimes it's distortion of the hands or ringing off the hands, or even, you know, people who sometimes you can just adjust your hair. But if you see this kind of behavior that would be, uh, showing less comfort, um, you can also see it with people who play with, uh, items that they have. So sometimes you just do this with a pen, okay. That is a pacifying behavior. That might not be very distracting, but sometimes you even see people. I don't, I don't have a click pen, but you know, they go there all the time, repetition on that. So th these are the things you can look out for. Um, and it could mean that there's a setting that this person is just, uh, feels this discomfort, and maybe you have something to do with it. So when you're in a setting that where it happens, you could reflect on yourself, oh, did I say something? Or did I do something to cause this discomfort?

Speaker 1: Well, I love that idea that we can't get there unless we are comfortable. And once we're comfortable, now we start seeing these signals and adjust accordingly. And when you're not at a place of comfort yourself, it doesn't matter what micro-expressions, you're picking up on or pacifying behaviors. Your discomfort is going to be the strongest signal, especially if you're presenting your in the leadership position. So I think that's a really important thing to understand that we have to first get ourself comfortable, and we have to recognize these behaviors in ourself. Why am I cracking my knuckles? Why am I making myself smaller and giving myself a self hug? Why am I touching my face incessantly? Is there some nervous energy behind that? Is there some anxiety that's coming up for me? And how can I tackle that first before focusing on everyone else's behavior.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And to analyze where does it come from? Is it because of the content of the situation of the conversation? Is it because of the setting? Is it because of the person across from me? Or is it internally like, oh, I feel uncomfortable. I feel stressed. And if we are aware of that, then things will get better in communications. I would say

Speaker 1: Now, one of our favorite super powers in communication, and really what generated this interview was us discussing with Joe a article, you co-authored with him around emotional validation and just how important it is in the workplace. And we talk a lot about it on the show, but again, many in our audience struggled to understand its impact and struggled to really implement it in them, their own interactions, both at work and at home. So let's unpack emotional validation and how we can really use it in the workplace to become better leaders.

Speaker 3: It is so important. And I must say that the article has gained so much a reaction that people say, oh, thank you so much. Even CEOs who said, oops, we don't do this in our businesses when it's such an important element, because we need to be validated. We need to be comforted in a way. And it sounds, sometimes it sounds juvenile like, oh, we all need, you know, a pat on the back, but that's not what it is. It is realizing that, okay, there's this person in my work place, in my work area that shows up, of course you get paid because people say this, yeah, you get paid for it. It's not important, but that's not the case. If you understand that this human being who loves to be validated just by saying, you're doing a good job, or if you having a bad day, tell me what's going on. How can I help you all these little elements when it comes to validation, help us to create better working environments and therefore better work in people, but also more comfortable situations for everybody. And it's, if you think about it, I would say it's not even that hard. If you realize that you take time to focus on the other person in front of you or the team that's in front of you guys, you did a good job and actually genuinely mean it because it's not just the words, of course.

Speaker 1: Well, I know we're all emotional creatures. We're not robots. And unfortunately many in leadership positions treat us as just cogs in a machine and robots expected to perform. But our emotions, both positive and negative ones impact our performance impact our productivity and our work-life balance. Our actual value that we derive from the work that we do. And it really is a shame that many of us are seeking validation. And in turn, we don't give it to others. And that's what I found so interesting as a leader. I think it's far more important to give validation and understand that it comes back through leading by example, versus those leaders who are like, well, my team never recognizes me when I'm doing a great job. And my team doesn't recognize everything that I do for them. I think that's really the wrong way to look at it when you are in that leadership role. Yeah.

Speaker 3: You have to set an example. One of the elements I teach when it comes to giving feedback is never say, oh, you did a good job. Why, what was it specifically that you fell that you wanted to emphasize on as a leader? And by showing that behavior by, by letting people know, oh, I liked this project because you guys were on time, you stayed in within budget or all those kinds of things. You sets an example of how to give feedback. And then it's almost magic. It starts to come back as well. You have to be open as a manager to be validated. So you can ask team, what would you say I did ride, or what did I do wrong? Um, but you have to set an example first.

Speaker 2: And I think this is important for CEOs managers, team leaders, to understand that human beings have certain motivations and certain psychologies were certainly cognitive processes. That if not, if they're not focused on something, if they're not engaged, tend to be detrimental, they get bored. And with that boredom, we tend to start ripping things apart, our relationships. And this is when we start inferring that, or assuming that there's a lot of things that are going on. So if you're not engaging with your employees and they're bored, then they're, they're left to their own thought processes. And this is when they begin to start writing stories, uh, narratives that are going on in the office, that out of the blue, and then start behaving according to these narratives. And when you give them that feedback and you're encouraging, celebrating, supporting them, they're now engaged though. They're now focused on the task at hand and they won't be bored to come up with these crazy stories.

Speaker 1: I think another key is understanding that just because you've validated one emotion is not enough. Validation is an ongoing process to allow your team to really feel that they're contributing. And they have an impact within the company because no one goes into work saying they don't want to have a meaningful, impactful experience. We all want to be there to feel that we are appreciated to feel that we're moving the goals forward. And if we aren't, we want to be supported for whatever effort we did put in. Even if we miss the mark. And we hear a lot from managers who we work with that, oh, well, I validated their emotions. How many times? How often, why are you assuming that? Just because you validated the emotion that they actually heard it and they responded to it, you know, and that's where the nuance of body language comes in.

Speaker 3: So are you aware of how you validate them? Was it your preference or, or did you actually listen to your team and how they want to be validated and sometimes not even verbally, maybe you can just give them a day off if that's possible to validate them. Yeah.

Speaker 2: It comes into play with Gary. Chapman's love languages and how people prefer to get validated. And there's many different ways and his, this book lays them all out. And it's interesting because the way you prefer to be validated is not going to be the same way for somebody else. And this brings up another question in people's motivations and how they like to be validated. And I mentioned this earlier that, and I'm guessing that your background, it comes from a very academic place. And you've been working with Joe Navarro, who we've just had on the show, um, a few weeks ago. And he's a body language expert. For those of you who haven't seen listened to the interview, please check it out. It was fantastic. And what did you find maybe unique or different or, um, just out of the blue that you never took in consideration or, or just you, that this came from Joe and his experience of being an FBI person and understanding people's motivations from high pressure situations? Well,

Speaker 3: Joe, Joe is the goat, as we say the greatest of all times. One of the things that I think is remarkable that the people he worked with or encountered, you could say that's a different kind of level than we all encounter in business settings. Um, so one of the things that I think everybody is, uh, is obligated to read is dangerous personalities because it takes human, um, human behavior to a different level than we all realize that there's so many people out there that are dangerous, but have certain personalities that we also encounter in, in business settings. But we're not always aware of. And what he brings to the occasion is this, um, very specific knowledge about behavior that is not always the level of, you know, this is not as nice to work with, or this colleague isn't really aligned with me. Know what we see when we listen to Joe, he's encountered people who have such a different level of, uh, awful behavior. If I may say that,

Speaker 1: Well, definitely part of what goes on in these situations is conflict. And many of us are not trained, educated in how to communicate in conflict. We often experience it in our childhood and how our family deals with conflict and those patterns then carry over into how we deal with conflict in the workplace. And a healthy work environment has conflict. Conflict actually helps us solve problems, get things done. If we avoid conflict in the workplace, we're not a very productive team. And unfortunately, even in my own experience, I grew up in a very conflict avoidant household and conflicts were not communicated clearly or head-on they were swept under the rug, so to speak. And then of course there was even bigger emotional outburst once they piled up together and it was multiple conflicts. So I didn't have the tools until I really started working on my own communication to be better in these situations. Again, many in our audience are now in a place where they're leading a team where conflict is inevitable, and maybe they haven't been trained in how to have these difficult conversations. So let's unpack how do we approach difficult conversations in the workplace? And are there things that you recommend we do to prepare ourselves for the inevitable conflict

Speaker 3: Do's and don'ts, I would say yes. So conflict is growth, which is a great way to start from, because if you do not realize that you will avoid it because it's not comfortable and it will never be comfortable, but we have to realize, okay, this is the case. Um, by knowing that it's difficult, a lot of people just either avoid them. Um, and so like, let's not go there, which as you said, builds up a lot of pressure, so that's okay. Um, but it could also mean that people, I would say there are four kinds of styles, so one is avoiding them. One is addressing it full on with the pressure you feel like I've got to say it right now. Then you have people who want to address it, but they're very vague. So it's kind of like going around, beating around the Bush.

Speaker 3: And of course you have people which I would highly recommend that effectively have a difficult conversation, which will never be relaxed because there are emotions involved. Um, one of the advices of, one of the advices I have is don't stall do it as quick as possible, as soon as possible, but soon as possible for both parties. Because again, here we have the comfort level that is important for both you and the other person. So what I see sometimes is that somebody builds up the courage, oh, I'm going to address this now, and I'm going to prepare for it. And I've done this so well, but they forget for instance, that the other person isn't ready or the other person is just focusing on work and they blurted out. So the do would be prepare a know your role and know your goal. So to say no, the other person, and be very much aware, uh, of timing and comfort

Speaker 1: Comfortness. And that brings up a great point that in these situations, especially if it's personal environment matters, so provoking a conflict with people who are not involved, you don't need to be involved in the room. And that environment is only going to make matters worse. So part of the preparation is making sure that you have the time and the space, the right environment to have that conversation in a meaningful way. Now don't stall. This one is, is so important too, because we often see and hear from our clients that they're stewing on this conflict. They're thinking through everything they're going to say, and they're holding onto it and giving it all of this meaning, but they're waiting. And, and a few days go by and the other person has no idea that there's conflict has already moved on. And here you are, you waited too long to handle it. And now it isn't an impactful conversation that can move forward.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And your emotions, if it's an emotional setting for you piles up. So the stress level rises and what you see, of course, when we're stressful or when we're stressed, the neocortex doesn't function as it should be. So that makes again a less of a effective communication and the conversation.

Speaker 2: How many times have people work themselves up over a conflict and, and over nothing only to finally get to a place where both people can discuss what is going on and, and realize that there isn't an issue. And that it was that it was just manufactured in their minds. And that venting is so important to at least let's put everything on the table and see where the conflict actually is, because it may not be where you think it is. And then now you, now you have an opportunity to be a problem solver. And for both parties to come up with a win-win

Speaker 3: Yeah. What I try to teach people is, is it the content that causes this stress? Because if we usually, if we address the content, it's okay, Hey, this is the fact I want to tell, or this is my observation. I would like to tell you, but the other two themes. So I'm making a triangle because I believe that this, this is the three elements that are very important in a difficult conversation. So one would be content and the other one would be procedure. That's like, when, when did it take place? Or is it in the future? Maybe says you're building up to something. And thirdly, that's the interaction. And the interaction holds all the elements that are very difficult for us to control. So that would be emotions that would be personalities. That would be a different style in communication or a different style in addressing, uh, conflicts, as you said, age. So all these elements you have to figure out, is it literally the content? No, actually we kind of agree on the content sometimes. Oh, it's everything around it. Yeah.

Speaker 1: I think another big struggle that I know I've gone through as well in conflict is so focused on what I want to say or what I want to get across that I don't often pay attention to the other perspective being presented in that conflict. And you can be in a situation where you're almost having two entirely different conversations if you're not listening to the other person. And one of the strategies that I like to employ is at least paraphrasing and repeating back to the other person, their perspective, to make sure that we're actually working from common ground, because oftentimes you may miss hear something and then misrepresent something. And in that conflict, it can go a lot worse than if you just took the time to be like, okay, are we at least in agreement that this is where we're starting from, this is what we're focused on. And if you're not able to paraphrase and state back what the other person just said about this experience, it's going to be very difficult from there to get to a resolution.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And if you want to address something difficult, I would always say, you have to responsibility to be the conductor in this setting or the director. The metaphor I like to use is you're the pilot. So if you are aware of what's going on and you want to go somewhere, you have to bring this other person on board. So the helicopter metaphor, sometimes we zoom out, are we on the same level here? Do we agree on the same thing, but also where are we flying off to? Am I on the same setting? Are we focused on the same thing? And, uh, to, uh, summarize things really is really helpful.

Speaker 2: You know, it's interesting due to the technology we have, and I've seen this in real life as well, where we're, people will answer their own questions and then infer that you had said it. And I see it on a lot of, uh, Twitter arguments where people are projecting a lot of things that were said, or inferred in a tweet. And it's like, that was not said at, at all. And yet we get so wrapped up in it. I also have a family member who will me questions, answer those questions themselves. And then, then hold me to their answer, Mike, that didn't even happen. And this is a very, it's a very common thing.

Speaker 3: And then for me, I'm curious, do you address that this family member does it is because it sounds like a difficult conversation, so we can have a difficult conversation about what is going on. Did you address it

Speaker 2: Younger? I just ignored it. Now I call it out every time because I'm just like, I'm not, I'm not going to be accused of things that I did not say or did not do. So I call it out and it's made the relationship a bit more, uh, what, a lot more contention. Uh, but at least I'm not going down as somebody who said this or

Speaker 1: Did that. Now. I know also in difficult conversations, pacifying behaviors come up because there's tension and pressure and stress. And we want to one, again, as we said earlier, be aware of our own body language and what we're communicating in these tense moments and to recognize what's happening in the other person's response to what we're saying. And are we actually getting our point across in an effective way or are they building up a wall and they're not really ready to hear what we have to say to work through that difficult conversation.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Are we observant enough at that moment when our emotion is rising, when we want to get something across, are we still able to let that go or at least, you know, calm it down a bit so that we are aware what is the effect on the other person? And if we are observant enough to see pacifying behavior, can we address it again? We should make the mistake like, oh, now you're angry. Maybe not, but we can say, what is your thought right now? Or how do you feel right now? So you can talk about that and address

Speaker 1: That. And for those in our audience who maybe their emotions get the best of them in these situations, what strategies or techniques can we use to lower our emotional tendencies going in and preparation for these difficult conversations?

Speaker 3: Yeah. What, what I, what I like to, again, the helicopter metaphor is very helpful for people to realize he don't always have to have a conversation there. And then so to land the helicopter and go out, just, you know, literally leave the room sometimes can be very helpful. Um, but also to pause, not say anything, just wait for a while, maybe even count to 10 for some people, uh, write something down, you know, you don't always have to look at the other person, but maybe you want to write something down to avoid eye contact for us for a moment. So you can reorganize yourself in a way or get your emotions to get there little things that you can do. Uh, but it starts with, again, being aware, why is this happening? Why is it, why is my emotion and more intense now? Is it because of something the other person said, or is this conversation going too slow?

Speaker 3: So that awareness helps you again to realize what is needed for me right now in this situation to have a better discussion or a better a conversation. And sometimes you don't have the conversation you say, okay, I'm sorry. I feel my emotions rising. I think it's better if we do this tomorrow or would it be okay to stop the conversation right now because I'm too tensed. And I want us to have a good relationship, even when this difficult conversation is happening. So, but it takes guts to address that and to zoom out what's going on.

Speaker 1: I liked that helicopter analogy, Johnny and I always laugh at some of the terrible advice that we hear around body language and communication. What is some of the worst advice that you've seen when it comes to communicating effectively or with body language

Speaker 3: That people want to spot lies? Oh, if you do this, then you're a liar. There's so many awful things out there that makes me, that makes me stressed. Um, so I would always say it is fantastic if you're into Bella body language, but please, please, please take the whole context into consideration what's going on. Um, you know, if somebody, as you said uses, it has uses a self hug. It might be because they're cold. Um, we don't know. So never draw too too quickly about what's going on. Ask, I would say always, always go to valid validating what you observe.

Speaker 1: Yeah. It's such a great point and understand that even in science, we need to collect many data points before we can draw any conclusions and body language is no different and a snapshot. One tiny moment in time, a micro expression does not give you the right to believe that you're a lie detector. You're reading someone's mind and then projecting all of those other qualities onto that person. I'd

Speaker 3: Use it because it's not nothing we've studied it. We, we know, uh, of course, uh, of, uh, scientifically scientific research that there is information out there, but still we have to be careful that we not too rigid in how we think or how we come across or how we observe the other person. And as you said before, how we react to that person, based on the observation we have

Speaker 2: In our work with making people aware of their own cognitive distortions and how they're playing a role in how they perceive things and then their, their behavior that goes along with that, uh, it's quite interesting that if they haven't seen it before and have checked those cognitive distortions, then they have allowed them to run wild. And if they use a cognitive and one area of their life and they never checked it, it usually ends up in another area of their life. And if you could pull out one there and show them just how flawed that line of thought is, uh, it, it shakes them up enough to where they're like, I want to get rid of that anywhere that it shows itself. So it's a quite important, and it comes back to, as you said, at the beginning of this, of just making people of where, of these things and how they make you feel, how they make you think and how it impacts your body language.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And then you can address it because if I see discomfort with you, knowing my weird behavior, knowing myself like, oh, I made a mistake, Johnny, sorry, what did I do? Or how can, how can we change this? And that's different. But if you're aware of it, then, you know, we both have this interaction that is helpful, that we both feel this, um, obligation to have a better communication going on. And if it's, if it's the both of us, then we can create more comfortable, uh, settings.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Now we love asking every guest what their X factor is. What is it that makes you extraordinary? What do you think your X factor is? How do you stand out?

Speaker 3: Thank you for that question. That is always, that this has to do with self reflection and also a bit of ego here going on. But what clients tell me is that I'm enthusiastic and that I'm not afraid to point out what's in front of me, especially at this level with CEO's who do not get feedback, or, you know, I'm not afraid to say what I see, what I see or what I observe and especially what the effect is. And, uh, that is something helpful in my line of business that I'm not afraid to point things out.

Speaker 1: Well, your candor has been greatly appreciated on this episode. Thank you so much for joining us. And where can our audience find more about what you do at the base of your company?

Speaker 3: Well, thank you so much for being in, it was such a pleasure. I mean, you guys are amazing and also funny, which is great to have a lovely chat. Uh, they can find me on LinkedIn or on Twitter, just on America outs. If they look it up, uh, it's a difficult name to pronounce, but you can also find me through the behavior company. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 4: [inaudible]

Speaker 2: Hey, Jay, this is one of the episodes that I love because we're dealing with subjects that you and I have spent the last 15 years researching, studying, and working with clients to help build their body language and their behaviors so that they are not hindered life, but they are propelled. And those hurdles are removed.

Speaker 1: There is no more powerful communication than non-verbal. It starts the second you enter that room and has a far lasting impression, every single person you meet. And that's why it's so fun to bring on body language experts like Anne, to help us break down what we should and shouldn't be doing. If we're trying to build trust, when people over and of course influence results in our life, it was so great to have her join us with such practical advice. This

Speaker 2: Week, shout out, goes to our X-Factor member. Eric. Now Eric has come to us because he had to deal with some anxiety and he was stepping into a new role at his company. He has the duty of fundraising and pitching energy, conserving products, not something that everyone is excited to hear about. And for an introvert, it's a fish out of water tale. Now he has two presentations coming up this week and rather than dreading them, he's excited about them. He's looking forward to not only pitching, but an opportunity to grow from those presentations right on

Speaker 1: Eric. If you want to be like Eric and join our X factor accelerator, head on over to unlock your X factor.com to apply today each and every week. Johnny and I are coaching X-Factor members to win at work love and life. Just like Eric. We want you to be our next success story. Unlock your X-Factor dot

Speaker 2: Com. Also, could you do us in the entire art of charm team, a big favor, head on over to iTunes and rate and review this podcast. It would mean the world to us helps others find the show and helps us get great guests, such as Anne.

Speaker 1: They are a charm podcast is produced by Michael Harold and Eric Montgomery. Huge, thanks to them. And you, our listeners go out there and have an epic

Speaker 4: [inaudible].

Check in with AJ and Johnny!

AJ Harbinger - author of 1173 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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