Posts Tagged ‘persuasive conversations’

Power of Persuasion: Look Younger by Moving

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Look Younger by Moving

Standing in church I look over at my 4 year-old boy to see his body in continual motion.  His head turns left, then right and then he looks at the ceiling.  He puts his hand on his head, he leans back then forward.  Maybe I should have been listening to the sermon, but I couldn’t help to start counting how many seconds before Nicky moves again.  I couldn’t get past two.  Then I look at my eight-year old.  He moves around, but not quite as much.  I could count to ten before his head turns and his body shifted then five seconds later he puts his hands on the pew in front of him.  I started looking at other people.  Right in front of me was a man and his wife, both around seventy years old.  One of them moved only once in the first ninety seconds.  The rest of that time they appeared frozen in place. 

This got me thinking.  Is there a correlation between movement and age, and if so could a person use movement to appear more youthful?

For the following two months, we observed over 300 people in public places in the following age categories: kids, teens, twenties, forties, and sixties.  A head-turn, look at a watch, posture change, gesture, etc. qualified as making a move.  I only analyzed people in listening situations or alone, because when people talk they are far more animated.  Here are the results measured in moves per minute (MPM):

The older people grow, the less they move and shift.  Morbid as it appears, it is a natural progression towards death.  How does movement affect how others perceive you?

Likability is one of the six pillars of persuasion.  When studying the most likable people, one common denominator is that they nod and make facial expressions as they react to other people talking to them.  An observation made in this study showed that the older people grow, the less they externally react to others.  This may have a negative impact on how they connect.  Dale Carnegie said it best, “Be interesting by being interested”.

What about appearing younger?  After analyzing the chart above, we decided to test whether movement makes people appear younger. We asked people to watch a twenty-five-year-old woman for a minute and then guess her age.  In some circumstances she would move only once during the minute; in others, she would move ten times.  Here are the results:

1   MPM:         average perceived age: 22 years old

10 MPM:         average perceived age: 19.5 years old

Next we tried the experiment with me (age 43).  Here are the results based on 48 respondents:

1 MPM:           average perceived age: 40.7 years old

10 MPM:         average perceived age: 38.4 years old

You look younger when you move.  Movement requires energy and energy is associated with youth.  Lethargy is associated with age and decline.

The point of this blog is to remind us of how loudly our body language speaks to others.  Chances are if you allow yourself to be more animated you will be perceived as more likeable and a bit younger.  And, if it works for you, you can thank Jake and Nicky for their bouncy behavior in Church.

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Power of Persuasion: Conversation Monopolizer? Check Your Plate.

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

At a dinner event, I’m watching interaction take place at a table directly across from me.  Three men and two women are talking about business and their common friends.  I notice one of the men, Bob, is a good storyteller.  He captures everyone’s interest and keeps it with a very amusing story.  Everyone laughs at the finale; then one of the women brings up her daughter who is applying to Brown University.  Bob immediately chimes in, “Great institution, you guys remember Jane? Her son got a full ride.  Jack, what was her son’s name?”  Bob continues with an admittedly interesting story about Jane’s son.  The woman who initiated the conversation never brings up her daughter again.  This pattern type continues for a while until Bob excuses himself.  Then, I watch for reaction.  One woman mouths to the group “I’m sorry”.  I’m not sure what the dynamics were there, but I am confident that nobody was happy with Bob’s monopolizing.

 Can you relate to this?  Have you spent time with “Bob” before?  Chances are that Bob would be embarrassed if he understood the reaction he created.  He appeared to be an affable and very intelligent person.  If 100 people are reading this blog, about 20 of you are unknowingly the “Bob” in your group. 

 The challenge:  Not even your best friend is going to tell you that you monopolize.

 The solution:  If nobody will tell you, how can you know?

 1)    From this point on, whenever you have a conversation, have an internal awareness of whether you are sharing airtime.

 2)    After a conversation, make a mental list of what you’ve learned about the other people and what they have learned about you.  Is there balance?

 3)    The dinner test:  If Bob had only looked at his plate he would have noticed his was full and the others were empty.  This is a great tip whenever dining with others.  Look at the dishes to find the monopolizers.  You may be surprised to find it is you.

 If you are a monopolizer then you are losing your persuasive edge.  The good news is that you are probably a great storyteller and very sociable.  Just being aware that you are a monopolizer can be a cure for the problem.  Also, you might ask your good friends to let you know when you are dominating the conversation.  With a bit of practice you will be well on your way to sharing airtime and being interesting by being interested.

 If you are in the company of a monopolizer, click into your segue mode.  Take responsibility for channeling the conversation away from the monopolizer and towards others.  It is very easy to do this in a group because you are not seeking airtime for yourself, you are simply asking someone else in the group a question.  In my anecdote above, the woman who mouthed “I’m sorry” to the group could have simply redirected the conversation to the other woman whose daughter was looking into Brown.  “Tell us more about why your daughter is choosing Brown.” Everyone at the table would have appreciated this redirection, and they would have appreciated her even more for doing it. She would have sharpened her persuasive edge in this case.

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