Nonverbal – body language and Leadership

There are two types of people—those who come into a room and say, “Well, here I am!” and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are.”(Frederick L. Collins)

Communications are verbal but, equally, if not more important, are those that are non-verbal. This accounts to between 50 to 70 percent of all communication – facial expression, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice. The way you listen, look, move and react lets other people know whether or not you pay attention, if you are being truthful, and how well you are listening.
non-verbal communication
Martial arts are based predominately on non-verbal communications. Once I asked my teacher: “Shifu, when two great martial arts masters meet how do they recognize who is better?”

The answer was somehow astounding. He demonstrated first and then explained: “The difference between senses that Shifus have developed and senses other people possess are tiny, but very important. This is often exposed in most Far East fighting movies – you can observe the actors fighting within their minds. In their minds, they perform the whole combat and no violence is exchanged. But we can notice the same in other sports, too. At the starting line of a skiing competition, for example, the competitors are visualizing the curves of the slalom route by inclining and swaying their heads here and there. Going through it in their minds helps the skier be prepared and know exactly how and where to react. And the same happens while two Shifus meet. They visualize the whole combat: how one will hit and how the other will respond. Just by looking at each other they play the fight in their heads and when they both make a bow, the winner is known between them.”

To grasp a non-verbal communication you have to see the details. Details of how one stands, where the center of gravity is, what the body’s position is, where the central line is aiming to, how a person breathes in and out, at what the person’s gaze is directed to, where and how the energy flows, and where the tension or the looseness of the body is. It takes a long time practice to do it, but it’s very rewarding.

Can you fake it?
Winning in martial arts is all about responsiveness. Timely and correct responses. If you are late, you lose. You are late because you hesitate as you are not sure what to do. Your body instinctively knows the correct reply. After a long time practice and thousands of repeats, then the timely and correct response is “in your hands”. This is in martial arts but seeing your boss that you know well is the same story. Therefore, it will be hard to fake – people watch and listen what leader does and how he says more than what he says.

1 comment:

  1. After reading your article,, I wanted to bring your attention to a video that was produced by a company that I work with, Integration Training, entitled "Body Language and Leadership:"

    I thought that this video's approach would resonate with you. I particularly wanted to reach out because Mark Walsh, the speaker in the video, is very involved in martial arts practicing aikido, which is the connection that you made in your article between communication and leadership.


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