Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Archive for the ‘Body Language’ Category

The 5 Golden Rules of Interviewing:

• Get your predetermined message across.

• Let nothing go by default.

• Keep off other people’s business.

• Only answer the question asked.

• Avoid sounding defensive or that you’ve been ‘got’.

Though the ‘media monster’ may bare its teeth every once in a while, you can actually enjoy going into the fray, have your say and leave them wowed and yourself intact!

Giving simple straight forward answers is not enough. The good TV or radio interviewers are looking to create something that is both entertaining and informative. It is essential therefore to understand what makes for a good interview and will keep the audience’s attention.

Afterwards, encourage those around you to tell you the things you did well. Very few of us make progress by being told what was wrong with our presentation. When we’re up in front of an audience we all have very fragile egos.

Finally, someone once asked Dan Rather what he’d learned in 30+ years of broadcasting. He replied, “Don’t eat spinach before you go on the air.” Good advice. During those 15 minutes of fame no one wants to be remembered as the person with a green glob on their teeth.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

To sign up to our monthly newsletter click here

Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher


Whether you’re speaking or not, you’re always communicating. Research consistently suggests that over 90% of a person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions are conveyed through non-verbal channels, including the voice and body language.

Through careful observation you can gain insights into a person’s state of mind, emotions and attitude. A person’s pitch, pace and tone of voice, movements, gestures, and expressions, as well as posture, dress, and spatial distance communicate even when no words are being spoken. By observing and responding to others’ non-verbal behaviours you can influence their thinking and persuade them to agree with your suggestions.

Because many people have learned how to put a mask on to hide their true feelings, if you sense that someone’s face is concealing what’s going on inside, observe the whole body. Legs, feet, arms, shoulders, hands and fingers give valuable indications of consistency and authenticity, or a lack thereof.

Through astute observation you can figure out what’s being communicated even when the verbal output is turned off. Questions to ask yourself when observing others include:

• Are the messages coming from the spoken words consistent with the messages coming from the non-verbal behaviours?

• Is the person being consistent in displaying non-verbal behaviours?


Technical Stuff: Individuals cannot control normal eye dilation. When you are looking at something that pleases or arouses you, you your eyes measurably dilate; when you see something that you don’t like or that threatens you, your eyes constrict.

Regardless of what a presenter is saying, if he looks at his audience as he speaks, his listeners will perceive him favourably and view him as confident, credible, qualified, and honest.

If someone speaking doesn’t want to be interrupted, she will glance away and continue talking. If she wants someone else to speak, she will pause and make direct eye contact with that person.

If, while you’re speaking, someone is checking his BlackBerry, texting on his iPhone or looking at his watch, he may be indicating that it’s time for a break or that you’re boring him.

Tip: Words are accentuated and punctuated by movements, gestures, and facial expressions. When there is a lack of congruency between the verbal and nonverbal message, people believe what their eyes and ears tell you, not what the speaker is saying.

Warning: While certain gestures and expressions – such as a genuine smile in which the eyes as well as the mouth are engaged, or a clenched fist slamming down on a table top – convey specific messages, interpret them carefully in the context of the situation that is occurring at the time. Because observing non-verbal behaviour is open to interpretation, practice your observation skills and when appropriate ask the people involved to verify your observations and interpretations.

Anecdote: I recently ran a session for a global corporation on the Body Language of Leaders. During my presentation I noticed that while most of the women in the room were smiling and nodding as I spoke, several of the men had serious expressions on their faces, which I initially interpreted as unconvinced or doubtful. In order to gain rapport with these individuals (see Body Language For Dummies and Persuasion & Influence For Dummies on how to establish rapport) I reflected back their expressions as I directed my comments to them. What I observed was that the men relaxed and engaged with me as I mirrored back what I observed them doing.

Remember: No single non-verbal sign is a reliable indicator of mood, attitude, or intention. To support a particular conclusion, observe and interpret several consistent signals.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Quick Tips from Kuhnke Communication on How to Present Yourself with Confidence:

1.Claim your space. You have the right to be heard and the right to speak. People ask you to speak because they’re interested in getting to know you and hearing what you have to say.

2. Move with purpose. No fiddling with your clothes or fussing with your hair. When you move, make sure your gestures and expressions support and illustrate your message, not detract from it.

3. Connect with your listeners. Before you speak find out about them: their interests, needs, concerns. The more you know about your audience the better able you are to gear your remarks to them.

4. Articulate. No matter how smart you are, how powerful your message, and how compelling your story, if you can’t be understood you might as well send a memo. Warm up your vocal mechanism by going into the ladies room before you speak and do a few horse blows, hums, and tongue twisters to loosen up your vocal mechanism.

5. Resonate. Make sure your message touches your audience and calls them to action. No matter what your subject, leave your listeners thinking about what they’re going to do next. If your speech is about politics, encourage your audience to vote and volunteer. If your speech is about cooking, encourage your listener’s to host a dinner party. Etc.

6. Tell stories and anecdotes. Include examples. Use vivid language, including metaphors and similes.

7. Structure your content. Have a clear introduction (10% of your presentation) no more than 3 main points (The Rule of Three. 70%) and your summary (20%)

8. Speak only when you are looking at your audience. Have your opening and closing remarks memorised. If you need to refer to your notes, pause, look at them, then look up at your audience and speak. They want you to do well. No one wants to see a speaker fail.

9. Breathe from your boots. When you’re nervous the tendency is to breathe from your upper chest, causing you to be top heavy and unbalanced. Stand with your feet placed squarely beneath your hips and shoulders to give you a solid foundation from which to speak.

10. Before you speak, visualise yourself presenting as you want to. Make the picture real. Hear your voice – strong and resonate. See your audience looking at you with pleasure and interest. Feel the energy in your body focused and flowing easily as you make your point. Feel yourself smiling and enjoying the experience. Create the reality you want to achieve.

11. Have fun. If you enjoy what you’re doing, so will your audience.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Several weeks ago at a Sunday lunch with friends and family I embarrassed my son. I embarrass him on a regular basis, as doing so is part of a mother’s job. This particular day I went a step too far and Max demonstrated a degree of self-control that made me sit up and notice. While he didn’t say a word, his body tightened and he wrapped his arms around his torso as if keeping his emotion in check. His jaw locked and his lips puckered in disapproval. Add to that, his eyes became steely as he glared at me, suggesting that I might want to stop what I was doing. And I did.

Your body’s speaking and people are noticing. How you’re holding your body, focusing your gaze and what your feet and fingers are doing tells a tale of your inner state.

Below is a snap shot of gestures and the emotions they’re conveying. Before I go any further, remember that no one gesture tells the entire story. In order to interpret what the body’s saying, you must reflect on the whole picture of the person.

Fiddling fingers, bouncing feet and sideways glances reveal feelings of doubtfulness, rejection or suspicion. A combination of picking at fingernails, pinching the fleshy part of the hand, rubbing or caressing a personal object (ring, cufflinks, watch, for example) or chewing on an object, such as a pencil or pen translates into insecurity.

To spot enthusiasm, look for smiles in which both the lips and eyes are engaged. People who are enthusiastic move with a bounce in their step. Their posture is erect, their hands are open and they frequently extend their arms in the direction of their interest.

Negative emotions such as secrecy or nervousness tend to manifest themselves through minimal or no eye contact, throat clearing and covering the mouth while speaking. Boredom reveals itself through drumming fingers, swing feet, picking at clothes and jingling keys and coins.

People demonstrating superiority and authority come across as both relaxed and expansive in their gestures. They steeple their fingers, are comfortable putting their feet up or on their desk. You often see them leaning back with their fingers laced behind their head with their chin lifted upward.

When you notice someone with their hands on their hips or sitting forward at the edge of a chair, you’re right in thinking that they’re ready to go. As you may be by now.

For more about how body language reveals attitudes, emotions and feelings, buy a copy of Body Language For Dummies. You might want to wait to the end of January 2012, when the 2nd edition hits the stands with more photographs and expanded content. Until then, pick up an app to get you started.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Sometimes we don’t all have time to read a lot of materials, so here’s Kuhnke Communication’s cheat-sheet on how to communicate with impact.

When You Speak

 Make your language vivid and descriptive

 Be clear, complete and precise.

 Repeat your points for emphasis, confirmation and clarification. Be creative in your phrasing.

 Confirm that your listener understands.

When You Listen

 Give your complete attention

 Listen with an open mind. Refrain from judging what is being said and shutting down.

 Listen for and reflect on both the words and the feelings behind the spoken words.

 Ask opened questions: who, what, where, when, and how. Avoid asking why. It will lead to a vague, unspecific response and may sound condemning.

 Pause to process what you have heard before responding.

 Avoid responding with but, yet and however. If you disagree, do so diplomatically.

 Let the speaker you know you respect them and value their thoughts and opinions – especially when they differ from yours.

 Confirm meaning. Clarify important points.

Nonverbal Communication

Use positive body language

– When speaking: well supported posture; look at your listener and use comfortable eye contact; varied volume, rhythm, pitch and pace; expressive facial and hand gestures.

– When listening: alert body; face the speaker; comfortable eye contact; receptive gestures.

– Be Aware of Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Communication

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And… Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher 


Tip: Learning how and when to break rapport, without giving offence, is an essential rapport skill.

 Surprisingly, you don’t need rapport all the time. You also don’t need to worry about building rapport when you already have it with someone. For the most part, you need to learn how to get rapport when you don’t have it or the ensuing poor communication will cause trouble. When you get good at practising rapport skills, you’ll probably find that your natural ability to be in rapport with yourself and others greatly increases.

When could using rapport be a waste of time

There are times when breaking rapport is crucial. Some people get so good at creating rapport with others that conversation flows too fluently and they forget how to bring it to a close. So they end up listening to story after story, or hearing more detailed information than they ever needed to know. Either they are afraid to offend by disengaging or they don’t know how to finish an interaction gracefully. Time gets wasted. Appointments or meetings over-run. Work doesn’t get done. Irritation and boredom step in. Then people risk having to break off quite abruptly, which causes bad feelings.

The ability to break rapport by using simple skills of mismatching can be a lifesaver. You can elegantly give people nonverbal signals that it’s time to move on, finish the appointment and bring things to a close, without ever saying any words to that effect.

Avoid buyer’s remorse

Until you’ve practised matching and developed expertise at building rapport, you may not fully appreciate just how powerful this is. However, the subtleties will be familiar to those who are involved with sales. In a good sales interaction, there will be high levels of rapport, ideally with the sales person facilitating a good match between the buyer’s needs and his product. But it is most important to break this rapport at the crucial moment!

Because the buyer may feel such rapport with the sales person, it is vital to break this rapport before signing the contract. Why? There’s a danger that the buyer might sign without having fully thought the whole process through. They may feel that they got carried away by the good feelings generated by the sales person. Afterwards, when the buyer has time to think about it, they may suffer buyer’s remorse. By simply breaking rapport and giving the buyer some space to make their own decision, you can achieve more mutually satisfactory sales.

Elegant mismatching to break rapport

The ability to break rapport can be as useful as knowing how to create it. Particularly if you are the type of person that everyone enjoys talking to, learning to mismatch can save you time and help you handle people elegantly.

Tip: If people like to bring you their problems and leave their monkeys on your desk, you need to learn how to use mismatching.

 Bringing a conversation to a natural close, disengaging from a hot topic, finishing an interaction, ending a meeting and saying goodbye can all be done very gracefully by mismatching.

It is simple. All you have to do is reverse all the nonverbal behaviours that led to achieving rapport. The more subtly you do this, the more unobtrusive and elegant it will seem. Sensitive people will pick up the first few signals. With oblivious people, you may need to run through the whole list.

Seven ways to mismatch

1. Break eye contact

Look away more often, while maintaining the conversation. Stop nodding your head in agreement.

2. Turn slowly away from the person

Start with one foot, then gradually turn the leg, and then your whole body towards the door you want to exit from. Step back subtly to increase the distance between you and the other person. Alternatively, if you are seated, lean back and turn your gaze to the papers on your desk or glance at something that will give an unconscious message that there’s something you need to be getting on with.

3. Stop matching

Stop matching both movements and conversation flow. Answer more abruptly, without giving the other person conversation cues (uh huh, yes, oh really) and don’t ask any further questions that require them to respond.

4. Close the papers

Close your folder or computer – whatever you may have been working on together – and put things away in your briefcase. Clear the table. Throw away debris. Put out a visual signal that the meeting has come to an end.

5. Suggest looking at diaries

Begin to look at possible dates for the next meeting.

6. Stand up or move

Stand up, if you are seated, or move your chair back in a definitive manner. Physically move your body and take a small step towards the door, if you are standing.

7. Apologise

Apologise for having to end the meeting and give an excuse about another pressing commitment. Show them the door!

When you use these mismatching behaviours, most people will pick up the clues quickly and realise it’s time to close. That gives them the signal to wind up. This avoids those awkward situations where one person is still talking animatedly and the other abruptly finishes the conversation. No one loses face and there’s no risk of delivering the unconscious message that you are not interested in what they are saying. It also saves time and avoids long, unnecessary conversations that lead to irritation and boredom.


Mismatch to break rapport

If the sceptical part of your mind can’t believe that matching really works, try this out as an experiment with someone who you know will forgive you. When you experience the power of mismatching, you’ll appreciate the subtle power of matching more.

  1. Sit down and ask a friend or colleague to tell you about their favourite holiday. As they start talking, at first match them with physiology, gestures, breathing and ‘uh huhs’, to get them going. Create a good, warm, friendly atmosphere.
  2. Then cross your legs and pick up your foot to look at the bottom of your shoe. Regardless of what’s there, become totally fascinated with your shoe, maintaining full eye contact with your shoe and fiddling with it non-stop. If the person questions you about what you are doing, just keep saying ‘I’m listening, do carry on’. An alternative to fiddling with your shoe would be to examine your fingernails – care must be taken to focus eye contact completely on your hands – again, fiddling with them helps. A typical office scenario version would be to have them keep talking while you turn all your attention to your computer and start reading your emails.
  3. What usually happens is that the person finds it increasingly difficult to continue to tell their story. You appear so uninterested that they think you are being extremely rude and may feel quite upset.

If you wish to preserve and repair this relationship, you may wish to apologise; tell them about the experiment, and give them your full attention to finish the story.

 For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Negative self-messages are bad for your health. Down beat beliefs can undermine your confidence and destroy your credibility. Toxic thinking can cancel careers.

You needn’t be caught in the trap. You can make a choice to let go of the negative and take on a positive attitude. You have to begin by making the choice. ‘But how do I do that?’ I hear you say. Begin by finding someone who truly supports you. What they would say about you?  Listen to what they say and believe it. It’s about changing the messages we give ourselves, and deciding if we do want to change, that we are doing it for ourselves and no-one else.

Find out what motivates you; is it pulling yourself towards something or pushing something out? You need to be really clear about the reasons for your negativity and work on disposing of them by; setting clear, achievable and measurable goals, finding out what’s important to you; and believing that changing your attitude is the first step.

The key to improving self-esteem, however you decide you do it, is giving yourself new positive messages.

Most people lack self-esteem because of negative messages they’ve received in their life. This is because all too often, people compare themselves to others and pick bad role models, resulting in a constant feeling of inadequacy.

Too many of us live by others standards and forget to look at ourselves. What’s good or bad for you, is going to be different in every person. We all continue to ‘buy into’ and surround ourselves with negative messages.

In order to calm your nerves before an important meeting, do abdominal breathing. Fill yourself up with air and focus on feeling ‘centred’. This will relax and focus you. Then visualise how you want to be perceived and create that vision. If you want to come across as determined, furious and focussed, imagine yourself that way, and then act that way.

Keep in mind that some nervous energy is good, it keeps you on your toes and will help you remain energised.

Can a person with low self-esteem fake self-confidence, even if they don’t feel it?
Yes, because how you behave directly impacts how you feel. So if we make a conscious effort to behave in a more confident way, we will begin to feel more confident. We’ve all been able to act with confidence at some point in our lives, perhaps when we were children, so take yourself back to that time and analyse your behaviour. Were you sitting upright, smiling, making direct eye-contact? The trick is to ‘act as if’ and you can ‘create the state’.

 Start to look at what you do well. Pick something, regardless of how silly you think it is – whether you’re great at writing e-mails or a fantastic mother, find something you know you’re good at and build from there.

My top tips for improving self esteem are:

  • Remove negative thoughts and influences from your environment
  • Create new positive messages for yourself
  • Having a clear image of what self esteem means to you
  • Surround yourself with people who value you
  • Judge yourself by your own values, not someone else’s 

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

Twitter Updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 43 other followers