The way we communicate with each other is not anymore the way we’re used to. We see each other on screens, kept far away by the pandemic in our midst. For speakers and business owners who used to thrive in physical interaction, how then can we navigate this difficult time and continue sharing our message? In this episode, Rodney Flowers talks to international consultant, bestselling author, and high stakes communication and body language expert, Sharon Sayler. Sharon shares with us the power of mastering your body language, both physical and virtual interactions. She talks about the biggest mistake people make with their body language, then reveals some key strategies and tips that can help us make the most of it. Plus, Sharon also shows her skills as “The Difficult People Whisperer” by sharing some high-stake negotiation scenarios and more.
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Mastering Your Body Language: Communicating Tips For Physical And Virtual Set-Ups With Sharon Sayler
I am excited about this episode. I have Sharon Sayler in the studio with me and she is known for saying, “Your comfort zone and personal growth cannot coexist.” I absolutely love that. That pretty much sums it up for this international consultant and bestselling author who is devoted to teaching professionals to be courageous and conscious communicators both verbally and non-verbally. She’s a high stakes communications and body language expert who has been affectionately dubbed The Difficult People Whisperer by her clients. She is listed as one of the top international experts in body language, according to the Global Gurus, and is the author of the perennial favorite, What Your Body Says and How to Master the Message published by Wiley. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Miss Sharon Sayler to the show.
What an intro. I’m blown away. Thank you.
I have to set you up because you are a powerhouse and the topic that you are talking about now is so hot and relevant. Given the situation that we are in with COVID-19, a lot of people are staying home, and we are in this virtual environment. When you talk about body language, it’s a key topic because we’re not interacting with people physically the way we used to. We’re behind computer screens and cameras. We are attempting to communicate effectively with people I know, as a speaker, body language, has a lot to do with how you get your message across. I want to understand where you stand as it relates to body language in this type of environment? Also, how can we use our bodies to communicate effectively in this environment?
Virtual had been creeping up on us for a while but with the game-changing of no travels, stay at homes, and shelter, in a place, absolutely, all conversations have gone to video pretty much. Let me reflect on a report that I read from Dr. Stephen Porges, who talks about neurobiology. That’s our fight or flight mechanism, our unconscious-subconscious reactions to things. His comments about videos are fascinating to me, because he said, “For years, we’ve been taught to see it as a two-dimensional television.” YouTube and videos types of things, but not interacting, not having community between ourselves. It’s almost a retraining of our brain from the two-dimension where we might yell at the screen because our sports team is losing but we’re not creating energy and creating community.
It takes a thoughtful person, such as yourself, I was watching you here on the video and your energy comes through as it does on stage because that’s who you are. I’ve been with you in person and the energy is effervescent. Some people who are a little more introverted need to think about, “Who in my world do I know is effervescent, who I know can bring up the energy?” This isn’t fake it until you make it, Rodney. This is act as if.
I always say things like, “Who, in my world, do I know?” Sometimes when I go to networking events, believe it or not, I’m the one who likes to hang back and observe. Maybe that’s my body language part going, “That’s fascinating,” and get carried away observing. I have a dear friend who is a huge extrovert. They could meet anyone, anywhere, any place and talk about anything. I step into all of the different things, behaviors, mannerisms, things I’ve seen him do. When I go into a networking event, and it’s amazing, I have that infectious energy that he has because I’m stepping into it.
If someone says, “Fake it until you make it,” the unconscious brain goes, “You’re faking it. It isn’t that high stakes. It isn’t that important.” Let’s be honest, if you’ve taken the time to dress up, act, get it all together and go on a video networking call in the past, and hopefully soon in the future, a physical in-person visit, you better bring your A-game. Why waste your time? Find those people that you admire certain behaviors, techniques, skills that they’ve learned and adapt them to you.
This isn’t me showing up as that other person. That’s not possible but it’s me showing up with the skills I’ve seen them used to get the effects that I want from people. That’s engagement, rapport, building some trust, and exchanging information. To me, that is the critical part of body language. It’s that effervescent energy we bring to it and it’s amazing to me how people can do the choreographed part of body language and it looks choreographed unless we bring the enthusiasm and the energy behind it.
There’s a level of authenticity that goes along with it as well. Although we’re utilizing, and you can correct me if I’m wrong. I feel that when you find someone who possesses the skillset that you’re looking to utilize and looking to gain, it’s good to copy them. It’s good to take what you see and apply it to what you’re doing but there’s a level of authenticity, a level of you, your identity, and who you are, that has to accompany that or else it won’t have the same effect.The critical part of body language is the effervescent energy we bring to it. Click To Tweet
If you try to copy me, you may not get the same effect that I’m getting because I’m being me. There’s an energy that goes along and comes across because of the authenticity that exists. When you’re copying a person and you’re doing what they do, without that level of energy and authenticity, your impact is less. It’s not as effective. It’s important for the audience to understand that when you’re utilizing those skills and defining that person, apply your own authenticity to it. You’ll find that it’s easier to do because you’ll find your own swag or confidence. It comes across a lot more comfortable. It’s the confidence whenever you are presenting. Your body language, you don’t think about it.
When you’re starting out with body language, you have to observe people and what’s working and what’s not working. That’s where I’m talking about stepping into those behaviors and making them your own. The more authenticity comes, the more comfortable you get doing those. Soon, it becomes your own personal style behavior, not someone else’s. Sometimes we don’t know what confidence looks like except I look across the room and I go, “That person exudes confidence. What are they doing that makes me think they’re confident?”
The more we play with it, the stronger those become and the less choreographed they look like. It’s like a toddler learning to walk. It takes a little bit of wobble before we get our own swag going. Keep going. The way you know that you’re making success is when you realize that the time between choosing a behavior and integrating it and feel comfortable with it gets closer and closer. You’re like, “In this, I’m going to keep breathing. I’m fine. I’m safe, all these kinds of things.” You walk through that door and you’re sure that you are, Rodney. That’s when you give yourself a high five, “Yes. I’ve integrated that new behavior I want to integrate.”
I thank you for saying that because that’s what it is exactly what I was thinking. Sometimes it seems overwhelming to think about all of these things like getting ready to take off in an airplane. You’ve got to check this, check that, and you’ve got to go through this whole 250 checklist type of thing in order to do what you need to do. It’s like, “That’s so overwhelming. Did I forget anything?”
Rodney, we’ll be sharing a whole bunch of tips and techniques for people and I encourage everybody to take notes. However, choose the one that’s most exciting to you now and practice it for a week. It won’t even take a week to integrate. It does take a couple of success points and you’re like, “That’s cool. That’s easy,” and take another one. Don’t try to implement everything that Rodney and I are sharing all in one big swoop. It’s too much.
What is the biggest body language mistake you see people making?
That sounds unexciting. It’s high breathing. They get into that little butterflies in their tummy flying out of formation, they start breathing high and rapid in their chest and I’ll do it now because then they become run-on talkers. They start talking fast and they’re gasping for breath. You were watching on video, and I’ll explain. Rodney pulled back there and what happens is that breathing activates, everybody in the room, their fight or flight mechanism. All of a sudden, people start thinking, without a voice pattern where I’m running out of breath and breathing high and rapid. Sometimes I lift my chin and stretch my vocal cords, which makes it sound even more anxious or stressed and people will go, “What’s wrong with them? They’re acting like they’re in fight or flight. Am I in danger?”
Breathing. No matter what you’re doing, breathe low and slow. I like to call it 360 breathing you want to feel your belly go forward, and trust me they’re not looking at your belly. They should be making eye contact. Feel your ribs expand and if everybody wants to take a nice deep breath, now bring your shoulders up as you breathe and drop them as you exhale and we’ll make noise together, you’ll see how fast it happens. Does everybody feel like an instant reset? That’s how fast you can change the confidence level.
All of a sudden, you’ve got more oxygen to the brain. You’re more centered and grounded. How many times have we been in an event where we’ve seen someone who’ll say, “Maybe it’s their mannerism or their whatever?” They walk in, and they’re confident in the room and everybody looks. It’s not that they may look different, they’re tall or whatever they’re doing, maybe they have a funny hat on who knows. It’s not that that attracts the attention. It’s the low breathing that comes with that. You like to call it that swagger. It’s that love. That’s all based on low and comfortable breathing, being comfortable in our own skin.No matter what you're doing, breathe low and slow. Click To Tweet
A lot of people take the time to breathe to a sense of nervousness or lack of confidence. It’s not what you’re up there to do, you’re up there to deliver and talk. You have an initiative. You’re breathing in order to get yourself calm and that could be portrayed as a lack of confidence. What is your response to that?
One little secret. We’re breathing, and trust me on this, whether you’re speaking in front of hundreds or one on one, the pause is when you look most intelligent. It allows the person to catch up with what you’re saying. That allows the person to rest and digest what you’re saying. Also, that’s a little secret of holding out a frozen gesture. We all gesture when we talk and hold out a frozen gesture. During the pause, everybody knows you haven’t handed the mic over yet. It’s a fascinating little thing that if you’re in the middle of telling a story and I’ve got my hands up here showing us a location, space, and time, doing a sideward position and saying, “Rodney, over here.”
This is a little too extended but for a fact, you know I’m going to say something. That was way too extended for the readers. You get my idea that the pause and the frozen pan gesture out there in space and holds people’s attention like, “What’s going to happen next?” I don’t suggest the number of seconds that I did. It’s enough seconds to get a nice, deep inhale and speak on the exhale. It’s about 2 or 3 seconds, maybe four tops.
You are known as The Difficult People Whisperer. About difficult people, is it them or us? Explain to us what’s meant by The Difficult People Whisperer.
I work with a lot of executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs that have to go into high-stakes negotiations to selling themselves, their products, and their services or anything high stakes. A lot of times they’re met with resistance. Some people might call that difficult, “They’re being difficult in understanding it.” Sometimes it’s us. My answer to that in short is, it depends because sometimes it’s us there. The other side is asking questions and some of the questions you might think, “They shouldn’t read the paperwork. It was all in the paperwork.” You get yourself into this little self-talk of indignation, it’s like, “Shit, why they are paying attention,” type of thing.
It’s us, we’re the ones being difficult. My tip for that if you find yourself getting a little bit ruffled is to breathe and my number one thing here is, don’t take it personally. Too often, we get wrapped up in ourselves that we take everything personally. One time I had a woman come to me after a speech I did for a group of professional women. She came up and said, “Sharon, why does everybody say I’m judgmental?” My first thought was, “I’ve known you for two seconds, I don’t know.”
I invited her to the office. She came by the office and we chatted for a little bit. I realized that she was not judgmental, but other people saw what she did with her thinking face and they took it personally. She did what I call a scrunchy face. She pursed her lips, flared her nose, and angled her eyebrows in and you get that crease between your eyes going. She had that face so perfected that this crease was somewhat permanent. Even when she smiled, there was still somewhat of a crease that often she did the face. Muscle memory, what can I say?
I asked her how questions, we went through a series of questions trying to figure this out. I saw that when you asked her how questions, she made that scrunchy face. She was committed to answering your question the right way completely and fully that she’d got inside and made that scrunchy face to think. I quickly picked up myself and snapped a little picture of it and brought her back outside of herself with other question strategies. I casually said in the third person and I was holding up my phone, “If you saw this face, what would you think?”
When we coach people, we never want to say, “Here’s your face. This is why people think you’re judgmental.” That’s aggressive then I’m being difficult. However, she looked at that face on the screen and she said, “Do I make that face?” I explained to her, “Every time someone asks you a question, you go inside and make that face.” Long story short, I sent her that photo she went to and showed it to her boss. They had a good laugh and he said, “I almost fired you because I was getting the point of frustration thinking that you hated everything I asked you to do.”
She took it home and showed it to her husband and she got the same response. They started laughing and the husband said, “I feel better. I thought you didn’t like any of my ideas.” A simple little misunderstanding of what we do with our face. That’s difficult on the one side. If people are truly being difficult, there are lots of things that we can do on the other side. Maybe they want to create a little tension between us or they’re having a bad day and taking it out on us.
My recommendation is to quit taking it personally. Breathe through it. Let the storm pass, meaning like if they’re yelling, or even raising their voice, let it pass to the point where you see, they have to take a deep breath because no one can help maintain that high rapid angry breathing for too long. When they do that, you can surprise them by meeting them out where they’re at, at the same tone of voice but it’s not a yell. Say you’re going off and you’re loud. I try and match the same tone of voice and I go, “Rodney, you’re right.” That’s known as a pattern interrupt.
First off, I’m meeting at that same voice level tone that was coming at me and I acknowledge them with their name and tell them they’re right. There’s a stop. There’s this moment of surprise and when the mind is surprised, it’s pretty open. You can say something like, “If that had happened to me, I’d be as upset as you.” Maybe you’re in customer service, you’d say. Maybe you did do something to them, “I am sorry, Rodney. I honestly did not know that would affect you that way.” You come from your heart and your energy, and you apologize when that happens. It’s from your heart and your energy. I could go on and on about difficult people because I don’t think a lot of people are truly being difficult. They’re in bad situations and don’t know how to get out of it.
I want to touch on this a little bit more. There are times when people are reading our body language and they’re receiving a message. That could be a message that isn’t an accurate message because they’re reading this language. We may not even know that we are delivering this type of message with our body in the way that we’re making faces or moving or whatever. I want to talk to you following on what you talked about in terms of this lady who didn’t know she was making this face. How can we be more conscious of our body language in our faces? You can get into a habitual routine of making faces or moving in a certain way because it feels comfortable for us. I realized how it has affected other people. What are some tips from you about how we can be more aware of how we are communicating verbally and non-verbally?
All thanks from having a body language coach such as myself all the way to hearing friends and family. If you hear things like what this woman was saying or someone is saying to you, “Sharon, why are you always angry, upset, sad, scared, shy?” If you have a relationship with them, ask them to please tell me more. I hear this a lot and I don’t understand because then we drop into our own transparency, vulnerability, and own authenticity if it’s in a safe environment and relationship.
Those are the friends I love that are willing to call you on stuff and also willing to share from their perspective what they see you’re doing and doing other things instead. With this woman that we talked about how we changed her face, it takes a little concentration and effort now that she’s conscious, she makes that face. She wanted to stop doing it and exchange it for a more neutral, calm face. How to do that? She walks around with a piece of paper like a yellow legal pad now, not a tablet, because it’s a different form of concentration that it takes to do on a tablet.
This is an old-fashioned pencil pen paper thing. She walks around with that when she goes into the boss’s office and other places. All her notes, all those things that she was making the scrunchy face mentally with, she stays outside because she’s busy doing the muscle memory of writing it on a piece of paper. That keeps her face neutral. What’s cool about that is what you can do that keeps you outside of yourself so you’re more consciously aware of what your face is doing during those times. It’s that type of thing. We’re training. The pencil and paper is the baby toddler learning to walk. Within a few days, weeks, depending on how much you dedicate yourself to the change, you won’t need that anymore and the scrunchy face, sad face, whatever it is will disappear. It’s amazing to me how it happens.
I relate that to the practice of being present whenever you’re on stage or in any type of conversation or communication with people. You want to be present with them. When we’re present, we are aware. Presence is another term for being aware, being with the person, and being with yourself and not acting subconsciously or in reaction mode. You’re deliberate and intent with who you are at that point in time. We’re talking about the same thing here. Being present brings the awareness of how you are showing up at this moment in this conversation with whomever you’re communicating with.
You’re a master of presence, Rodney. I’ve been with you in person. I’ve seen you on stage, here, in this kind of conversation. You are a master of presence. People should go, “How do I be present?” “Watch Rodney because he’s a master of it and reflect back.” Some people don’t know what presence and grounding mean. If they’ll say, “I’m here, I’m listening to you,” but they don’t realize that they’re not. You see their eyes looking up and they may not be texting on their phone, but you see their eyes looking up or wandering off.A giggle is an exhale, and it releases oxytocin to the brain. Click To Tweet
You’re like, “They’re not present.” It’s funny. Sometimes I meet people and they’re sent to me from HR saying, “Give them a little training.” You ask them, “Are you present?” “Absolutely,” but every body language thing from the movement to the energy they’re projecting says they’re not present, yet they think they are. That’s why having people such as yourself to go, “That’s what presence looks like now, so now I know what presence looks like.” Sometimes people don’t even have a clue what it looks like.
I want to dive into that a little bit because being in your body is a form of presence. Just because you show up and get there, you’re in the room, and you’re hearing, or even interacting, doesn’t mean you’re present, because you may not be in your body. It takes effort to sit back and be in this here now. That takes a conscious effort to say, “I’d like to see yourself and feel yourself in the moment.” It’s almost like you’re here in and you’re out there looking in at yourself all at the same time. To me, that’s a simple explanation of what it feels like to be present.
I like to call that the Observer Position. That way people can understand what that’s like because we can look back over to maybe you see Rodney and me in an event and we’re chatting. I’m running this, I’m here, I’m present and listening to Rodney, what would happen if mentally subconscious and conscious, I step over and look from this way in the observer position? “Do they have rapport?” Yes, they do. They seem to trust each other too.
Notice all the different body language going on between them. They both seem present with each other. When you can train yourself for that observer role, you can learn about the dynamics of not only one-on-one relationships, but imagine learning that skill of observer that you are highly trained in as teamwork. It’s like, “I seem to be okay with this team but those two over there are catfighting, and those two over there are sulking.” Putting yourself in that observer position and this is absolute without judgment. It’s talking about behaviors.
Those two that are catfighting. Their eyelids are high in their sockets, and they’ve got their hands on their hips. They have this adversarial posture. You can learn much more because you’ll begin to ask yourself questions, why questions. It’s like, “I wonder why they’re doing that?” The first one often is your own biased stereotype judgment, “They’ve never gotten along,” or whatever that is. You ask yourself the why question five times. I know it sounds like a lot.
By the time you get to that 4th and 5th one, you’re out of your biases and observing behavior. It’s critical to be able to understand that observer role that you’re so elegant at, Rodney. I’ve seen you in large groups. You have this sense of not the energy of the individuals, but the energy of the room and that’s that ability to be present at the moment, and also present in what’s happening. That’s the highest, most elegant form of presence.
What would you say are some techniques or some prep material for people who are going into a virtual environment or going into a meeting or conversation, and they want to be more present? Also, to embody everything that we’re talking about here for purposes of effective body language. Even being present with the people to understand what’s necessary and what’s not necessary at the moment?
That’s good because it’s so right now. Number one breathing here too. Before you click on the camera, do a little giggle at a minimum or a forced laugh if you’re nervous. A giggle is an exhale and it releases oxytocin to the brain. A big laugh is even better but if that’s not in you, a giggle will work fine too. It relaxes the face muscles so you can smile without the cheeks getting all shaky. I don’t know if you’ve ever smiled like that. The cheek starts shaking because it’s a forced smile, and all that thing going on. We’re breathing well when we go into the meeting or the group and make sure that you have a non-distracting background, whether it’s your office, or in my case, it’s a background that’s dark brown. It’s lit fairly brightly, so it looks more beige. People will judge and it’s funny. I’ve seen this often with critiques on types of webinars and things. It’s like, “The speech was okay, but what was that a cheap blender on their kitchen counter?”
They’re so busy and maybe you’ve seen those offices with nothing but they’re in front of their book cabinet. People are going, “Has he read War and Peace?” They’re busy and entranced in the background that no matter what you’re doing to be present, you have to be quite a magician if you’ve got too distracting of a background and that’s over distracting. I say that the more office-y or the plain, or in my case it was a dark brown, is better than any of the green screens. Sometimes they need to be used but there’s so much chance for error in a green screen. Whether you’ve got a slight bit of green or maybe you’re an author and your book has a little bit of green in it like my book does, the green screen chroma keys that fills in with your swaying palm tree video behind you.
There are many things to think about virtually that we never thought about. Some of them are, who else could be possibly in the room? We’ve all heard those horror stories, maybe seen them on video where someone walks by and they’re maybe not appropriately dressed, or they’re skipping by and singing a song. It’s distracting. Those are things to remember about virtual too. As far as body language goes, remember to keep it closer to your body. Even if you’re doing a podcast audio and no video, gesture. People can hear your gesture. They can feel the lungs open up and the chest open up when you do a body gesture. You’re animated. More energy comes when you’re doing the visual-verbal. They all go play into one.
Except on video, you have to keep the gestures closer to your body. When I’m gesturing now, and I look down, I am 3 to 4 inches away from my body and this is much higher than I would normally gesture. One of the keys about video is to keep your head size about the same size as the person or people you’re talking to and if it’s a huge group, do that with the leader because sometimes people will have their head big or they’ll be way back here.
If the leader is doing a major faux pas like having this little tiny talking head down at the bottom of the screen to center yourself on the screen, don’t try to mimic the head size, but if they look good, try and mimic your head size. The number one thing, because we’re talking about gestures is to keep them close to your body. This is where I would normally gesture. My elbows are still bent. I’m not forcing this at all yet if you were to see this on video, my hands are three times the size of my body. All of a sudden, I have these ginormous hands that look like something out of a horror movie.
Practice doing videos with friends and practice Zoom calls saying, “Rodney, if you’ve got some time, I want to practice some Zoom calls.” I’d call people up like that. “Let’s have a virtual tea, and then tell me what you think of this lighting and this background,” things like that. If not, turn on a video conferencing yourself and videotape yourself. I’m going down a rabbit here, Rodney. It’s critical that when we videotape ourselves or we watch ourselves in a video that you coach yourself in the third person. Remember the cell phone, I said about, “If you saw this face, what would you think?”
We need to do that to ourselves to give ourselves grace, keep our worthiness strong, and keep our self-esteem up because if I was looking at that, I was like, “Sharon, what were you thinking?” I don’t know what was wrong with my hair that day. It’s all these subconscious soaks it in is all this negative self-talk and criticism. It makes me not want to go on video ever again. I love this little line that I like to teach people to use in a video.
Watch yourself in a video. Watch the first time, go ahead be a little critical, but not too critical. You can think about, “Maybe that scarf wasn’t the best choice.” Watch it again and say to yourself, “If I was to coach her, I would tell her to,” and then fill in the blank. The body accepts that in a much safer worthiness place of like, “That’s nice feedback. Thank you.” Instead of feeling beaten down because I was harsh on my choices of scarves and what I did with my hair, etc.
I like that because it makes room for compassion. I find that what hurts people the most when they go back and look at a video like that of themselves is they don’t give themselves enough compassion at all. As a speaker, I’m going to tell you, it is difficult to sit and watch yourself on camera. You’re like, “Is that me? Did I do that? Did I look like that? Did I say it that way? Did I move that way?” It never stops unless you give yourself compassion because we’re looking for all the things we’ve done wrong. You have to have the compassion to realize all of it wasn’t wrong. There is some grace. They are not so bad that they can’t be improved. These are things, little tweaks that we can make to improve.
I want to piggyback on something that you said about being grounded. Whenever we are going into talks or virtual environments, the beginning is the most critical because you are the most nervous and the audience is the most skeptical. If we can get a good start, we can make a way to have a good finish and to run the race well. If we start out wrong or bad, it’s difficult to get back in the game. It’s like over from the beginning. Getting grounded is key. Having that ritual for yourself, to put yourself in a state because a lot of body language comes from how you are filling in the state that you are in as you are delivering your talk, presenting, and communicating.There's so much chance for error on a green screen. Click To Tweet
It’s all about the state that you are in. If you’re in a nervous state, your range of motion and your body is going to be stiff. It’s not going to be fluid, and that’s going to show on camera. If you can put yourself in a state of calm and get out of your head. A lot of things we’re making up about, “That can go wrong. What if this happens? What if that what they said is? What if this color is that?” We’ve got to stop that noise. Getting grounded and putting yourself in a state of confidence or fluidity or calm, and then carrying that through the talk or the presentation or the communication.
That is a skillset. When you can learn to ground yourself and you can drop into that at any given time, then you’re near. You’ve seen people, it seems like when I go up and talk to them, they fall into the state, and then they communicate with me and it’s magical. It’s like, “Wow.” When you learn how to ground yourself and get into the state, and then stay in that state as you are delivering, you deliver from that and energy. You allow that to flow through you.
I learned one skill early on from Sarah Peyton who works a lot with neurobiology. I’m a fan of understanding how our nervous system reacts with our physical body. That’s where all this body language comes from as Rodney talked about being grounded. I do this both for the person or people I’m with as well as myself. It’s understanding that in any such given situation, we all have this little radar going around in our head and the first question is asking, “Am I safe?” Even on video, people may feel like, “Maybe I’m not safe. Maybe I’m expecting bad news or expecting somebody to be a little volatile.”
Once the question of, “Am I safe?” is handled not just for yourself, but for the other people, also it is, “Do I matter?” That’s where that connection part comes in of finding common ground, having something energetic, being able to come at it from this energy, be respectful, and giving yourself grace as well as other people. Circling back around to this idea of a lot of the safety and the matter comes with taking innocent things personally. That’s the part where I say, come back to this idea of, “Was that just my own internal response that comes across? Is that my fifth-grade teacher?”
There was one movement idea that I was videotaping another instructor one time and I had to get glasses. At the time, they were readers. I’m videotaping, looking in the little lens, and all of that, and yet, I was trying to figure out what they were doing. I kept looking over the top of my glasses. This movement of my chin going down, my glasses lower on my nose, and my eyeballs looking over, activated the speaker as if they were being judged by their fifth-grade teacher. I called a break fairly quickly after that, finished up the topic, and said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I can’t see the screen with these glasses.” He had been triggered by that simple little misunderstanding.
Another little trick is realizing that it’s not about you. A lot of times, when we’re preparing for these talks or these virtual environments especially, or in any communication, we’re worrying about the judgment that’s going to come back from the audience or the person that’s communicating back to us. We make it about us. “What if this? What if that?” All of these things that you are asking about yourself because you don’t want to be judged.
It puts you in a state of selfishness, if you will because you’re focused on you, looking good, and making sure you do a good job. You don’t focus on perhaps the intent of your communication and the intent of your presentation, which is to deliver something that’s going to make a difference or have a positive impact. We can get out of that state of not making it about us and realizing the responsibility and the privilege of what we get to do.
A lot of the nervousness and the feelings that we have pre-empting some type of presentation, we levy them on ourselves. It’s all the mental churn and the self-talk that’s going on. To shut off that noise, we have to realize it’s not about us. That’s another little trick to get grounded. You’re there to do something, but it’s not about you. It’s about the people that you communicate with, so you can lift that energy off yourself.
If it’s a new group or I’m deep in presentation mode, I like to ask, “What is the curriculum maybe?” I begin at first by writing down the outcome and my intentions. What is the purpose of this? What values are important to me during this time? Putting it on paper gets it all out of my head and gets it crystal clear for me. Sometimes, if I’m working in the speaking environment, there might be an event planner or HR or education department, or something along those lines, I’m sharing that and going, “Are we on the same page? This is my intention for this. This is my desired outcome.” That’s helpful for me. I’m kinesthetic and I’m much in my body. The physical act of writing helps me get clarity.
Sharon, you are known for singing, “Your comfort zone and your personal growth cannot coexist.” I loved that quote. It’s beautiful. What do you mean by that? Can you share your personal explanation of this quote?
I feel called and compelled. When I met my body language mentor over two decades ago, I did what’s known as a radical left turn. It was just a right turn. I don’t know. Somersault maybe or whatever. I saw someone on stage talking about nonverbal communication more than body language. We’re talking about nonverbal communication, in which there’s a difference. I was mesmerized that I was in a state of suspended animation. About 90 minutes into his talk, he called a break and he came up. There are 50 or more people in the room.
At the time, I was one of those in the back of the room taking notes like, “Please don’t notice me.” He came up and he whispered in my ear, “Let’s go for a walk.” My first trigger was, “What did I do wrong?” Honest to gosh, that was the self-judgment that came, popped right out. He took me for a walk and it was listening to a psychic reading. He was telling me that I was going through a rough patch in my life, which I was. He’s telling me that I was in the arts and I own a graphic design and marketing company. It was strange. I was with friends and I accused them of setting me up.
To this day, they say no. After the walk, he walked me back to my chair and I sat down. He leaned over and whispered, “If you think with your mouth closed, you’d look more intelligent.” Imagine the jaw getting slack and you almost stopped breathing, but you have to be because you’re alive. You’re open mouth breathing. You’re breathing through your mouth and the jaw is slack. Everyone, loosen your jaw and slack it up, and you don’t even feel intelligent in that mode. When you’d make that face, it’s the strangest face. You don’t even feel intelligent when you begin to breathe through your mouth and let your jaw slack.
I was mesmerized by that. At that moment, I knew I either had to take the leap, get out of my comfort zone or continue to do what I’ve been doing, which even in this case was okay. It was making a living but it wasn’t my calling. It wasn’t where I felt home. That was my big awakening moment of like, “Take the leap of faith.” I knew that I had to know this. I didn’t know that it would lead to what I’m doing now, of course. I didn’t project that far out, but I knew that I had to do it. It was far out of my comfort zone going up and convincing him to hire me. He didn’t hire me at first, but I traded some graphic design and he mentored me.
After a while, I edited several of his books and co-authored a couple of books, and grew organically. Understanding and being open to that because if I had stuck in my comfort zone, none of that would have happened. The same with the podcast that I do called The Autoimmune Hour. When I started that several years ago, I called it Life Interrupted because I was thinking, “There can’t be that many people interested in thriving with an autoimmune diagnosis.” I don’t remember where I got that but that was one of my limiting beliefs. Who would be interested in just what I’m interested in?
I launched the podcast. First one, I had some amazing big-time guests on. There’s high-level interest in the show. The next couple of show has totally fascinating topics on different interruptions in your life, but not so much interest. Someone convinced me to do a show on autoimmune. I could tell there, “It’s my passion and I’m home. This is where I’m supposed to be.” I left my comfort zone of thinking, who would be interested in just autoimmune.
Ever since I went down the path of the show, it’s all about thriving with an autoimmune diagnosis. Amazing things have happened. Nothing extraordinary happens if you’re willing to stay comfortable. It’s being comfortable with the uncomfortable, amazing, extraordinary things that I couldn’t have told you during that time when I took the leap of faith, that’s where it was going to go. Some people might be more structured and I have a twenty-year plan. I didn’t. It’s amazing when you take a leap of faith.
How can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you and work with you?Nothing extraordinary happens if you're willing to stay comfortable. Click To Tweet
Thank you for offering that. It’s beautiful. I want to thank you for coming to the show. It’s been a wonderful conversation about body language. It’s such a relevant topic in this world. I want to say thank you for sharing your techniques and your tips on how we can be more effective communicators using our bodies. We appreciate you for doing that.
Thank you for inviting me, Rodney. As always, it’s fun to spend time with you,
Likewise. What we do here on the show before we end it is we always ask our guests what would they offer as a tip to have a game change of mindset in life, in business, in general. What would you say is the game changer mentality message of the day?
We’ve talked about many of them. One that we haven’t covered is to ask for help. Oftentimes, we’re afraid to ask people, our friends, family, other experts in the field, or a field you want to know. It’s okay to ask for help.
It’s such a simple tip, but yet powerful. I was listening to a guy do a talk several years ago and he was talking about a move. He was speaking to a large military audience. As you know about the military, they move a lot. He was talking about how you take a look at people who move and we’re talking about people who have been in a place for a while. Most of us have been where we are in our lives for a while and we’ve been trying to get to a different place.
It was a great analogy because he talked about when they want to move, what do they do? They hire somebody to come and move them in. They show up with the huge tractor-trailers. There are about 6 or 7 guys or whatever they go in. They pack up all their stuff and they help them move. His moral of the story was whenever you want to move from one point in your life to another, you want to go from A to B. If you want to move, ask for help. Don’t try to do it yourself.
It’s a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing that. What a great analogy. I love that. I moved not too long ago and I was feeling it there. You’re right. I had all these people show up. You need to come from the right place when you ask for help. Sometimes, people want to be validated instead of asking for help. Spend some time with yourself understanding, what is the help that I’m needing and where can I find it?
Sharon Sayler, thank you for coming on the show.
Thank you, Rodney.
There you have it, folks, another successful episode of the show. Ask for help and take the time to get present with yourself. Whenever you’re doing virtual calls and communication, take a lot of notes, maybe stick it on your computer, and remind yourself to breathe and be present. Before you start, maybe have a little note that says, “Get grounded.” If you find yourself out of your body during a conversation or presentation, remember to breathe and get back into your body to be present. Get into that state where you feel confident and the energy is flowing. You can just be you and allow the energy to dictate how you move your body and how you show up in those environments. Practice that. I challenge you to try it. Until next time, peace and love.
- What Your Body Says and How to Master the Message
- Dr. Stephen Porges
- War and Peace
- Sarah Peyton
- The Autoimmune Hour – podcast
About Sharon Sayler
Sharon did a great job presenting to our eWomen Network Chapter. All of the attendees were really interested in her topic of Body Language. Sharon did a great job relating to the audience and keeping them engaged. I just wish she had had a longer amount of time to present! She has a wealth of knowledge that is invaluable and I highly recommend her as a speaker. First and foremost Sharon is a true professional in everything that she does. Her communication style is gentle and firm in all the right places. She makes a big impact and leaves you feeling supported and understood. …Sharon helped me with a short presentation I had to give. Her keen observation coupled with her understanding of non-verbal communication translates into a powerful coaching style that is both direct yet gentle. I would highly recommend her services to anyone committed to excellence. Her area of expertise is very unique and critical to anyone who presents or does public speaking. Sharon Sayler delivers a proven formula to confidently, powerfully, and authentically align what you say verbally with the message your body communicates. Her simple step-by-step strategies, techniques, and exercises ensure quick, easy, and effective implementation. I now recommend this book to all my clients. What Your Body Says is an essential read for every entrepreneur, executive, and business leader.
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