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How to Create a Commanding Presence – Strategies for Building Charisma and Connection to Communicate Powerfully and Persuasively – (Part 8 of 16)

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(…continued from last week)

How to Improve Your NonVerbal Communication, Part II

Second aspect of an exceptional nonverbal communicator is the ability to use eye contact. We live in a very diverse culture. There are people who their whole lives have been told to keep their eyes averted, keep them down because it’s rude to stare. You’ll meet other people who have been told to make sure they always look people in the eye, that way they know you are paying attention.

So what do you do? These numbers will hold true for the majority of people you interact with. If you look someone in the eye less than 25% of the time they will make one of a few assumptions. They will assume 1. you don’t like them, or 2. you aren’t listening to them or 3. you have something to hide.

If you look someone in the eye more than 75% of the time they will think you are staring at them. The appropriate amount is about 50% of the time.

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Appropriate is, we look at someone, we look away for a moment, and we look back. It’s an in and out process. We look at each other, away, back and forth. In the west if there is a trait that is most overused, it’s looking someone in the eye too long. Too long means staring.

So how do you know if you are staring at someone instead of just making good eye contact? Here’s a helpful hint. When you want to have a connection, when you want your presence to be enhanced by looking someone in the eye, this works. If you are looking at someone and they look away and they look back and you’re still looking at them that’s ok. If they look away a second time, and then look back and you’re still looking them in the eye that may be a little too much, but still ok.

If they look away a third time and look back and you are still looking them in the eye—you are staring at them! Stop for just a moment, look away, take a break, look at your watch, look at the ceiling, look away for a moment. Because if you don’t look away, they will soon begin to feel like you are staring at them. Take a break from the eye contact.

Using Silence

Another aspect of great presence and making this nonverbal communication connection is silence. If someone else is speaking, remain silent and let them say what they need to say. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and stare.

You just don’t talk much, but use listening noises. Like, “mm hm, I see, ok, interesting, tell me more, how about that.” You don’t want to run them all together like ok-mm hm-fine-I see-right-go on, etc. That’s not what I’m saying. Use listening noises to punctuate the silence to enhance the relationship and communication.

That silence, allowing people to get out what they need to say, allows them to get out their message. It is very normal, when someone else is talking and they something, for your mind to jump up and focus on something you’ve got to say and just have to say it right now.

Do you ever interrupt people when they are talking? Do you ever butt into the conversation? It’s a very common habit and it’s rude. You need to stop doing that. Most people do it. What it shows when you do that is you’re not really listening. You were listening for a while; you then stopped listening so you could figure out your rebuttal or your point. Give it up. Give them the silence to become a better communicator.

(to be continued…)

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