The leader I coach is walking around my office….
- Then my N+1 said: “Stop making that face! I can see you think what I said to you doesn’t make sense!! But me, it’s my head! I don’t know how to lie because everyone can read on my face how I feel.. He is stronger than me! I have a very legible face. Can you teach my face to be more…. »
She passes her hand several times in front of her face as if to cancel it…. ” poker face ” ?
It’s not the first time I’ve had this kind of reaction. Many people, especially women, tell me that they desperately want to “control” their emotions and especially their facial muscles so as not to “show” how they feel in order to be more efficient. I replied that the most important issue for rhetoric is not competence. On the contrary, people hate those who communicate “effectively”: perfect smile, perfect breath, perfect gestures, perfect intonation,…. “was wrong! Not spontaneous! Abnormal ! We hear in the audience after these interventions. We don’t particularly like bots to communicate.
So the challenge of communication is found elsewhere: it is authenticity. We must see that we are not lying. “Yes, but my face? If you can see that I am not lying, you can also see from my frowning eyebrows that I am not, but then, I absolutely do not agree with what I have been told.” I replied in one word: “But we don’t want to see you in your pajamas my dear madam…” She looked at me in disbelief and empty-handed: “I don’t understand…”
Yet it is simple. Authenticity in communication is not “normal”. It falls midway between “how naturally am I” and “other’s kindness”. Naturally, we will introduce ourselves “in pajamas” to our audience. On the contrary, we try our best to dress to be “good looking” for the crowd. This reminds me of another leader who, every time he talked to his team about the budget, would nonchalantly sit at his desk to address his team in a “cooler” way and tell them about the million they would find this year. The collaborators could not stand this attitude, which they found arrogant and inappropriate. But the leader was very relaxed and didn’t see the problem.
Authenticity in communication refers to the nature of casually tightrope walking on the 250-meter high rope… It takes a lot of work and here are the secrets.
Each discourse assumes that you understand decoding the other’s view of your ability to be authentic through the 5 pillars of non-verbal, verbal, semi-verbal before paying attention to the verbal.
- anchor. The way the silhouette presents itself, the way your body is positioned, will be instantly detected by the other as authentic or not. Body “too crouched” on tiptoe or out of balance with body weight on one leg, perceived as inauthentic and may have reservations about the topic being discussed
- body language. If your hands are at odds with what your mouth is saying, it will immediately have a “lie” effect on your audience. For example, if you use “soap”, i.e. rub your hands, and say “Nice to see you today”. Your audience will expect you to talk about budget almost systematically
- Succulent. “We listen with our eyes.” In fact, if someone came to see you and asked if they could talk to you without bothering you, and if you weren’t making eye contact with that person, they wouldn’t feel like listening to them….as long as you didn’t. If we look at it carefully, the person will feel ignored. However, the gaze presupposes a real act of accepting others’ gaze and “giving” one’s gaze to others. Hence the rule, when you have about fifteen people in front of you, never look anyone in the eye for more than two seconds…..so as not to make them feel uncomfortable.
- voice. High tone, low tone, with a defect in pronunciation, with hesitation, spasms in the language, … The voice conveys a lot of things and remains a true door to originality.
- Finally, the last pillar, silence. Anyone who knows how to use silence when speaking in public will know how to be authentic because they won’t be afraid to control the temporality of their speech. Neither too much silence (so as not to be too solemn), nor not enough (so as not to appear in a hurry). Just consideration for the other who should take notes or even dare to ask questions during moments of conscious rest.
These are the secrets of the credibility of rhetoric. To practice, all you have to do is film yourself (using your mobile phone for example) by evaluating the first three pillars (fixation, gestures and gaze) without sound. These ratings can be made on a scale of 1 to 5 (the best rating). Next, turn the mobile over to hear only the sound and silence but without the image and rate yourself on these last two pillars.
Accepting to see each other (even if it hurts) is the only way to reach our credibility in communication. Because this authenticity cannot be equated with abandonment or familiarity. On the contrary, it is the dignity of the being who accepts the gaze of the other because he cares more about the truth of looking and discovering the other than the fear of voyeurism from his audience. The ethics of authenticity in communication is an act of giving.
Gila Clara Kissos, Ph.D
UNESCO Artist for Peace