"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ignore Words and Strategy...& Win?

Ignore Words and Strategy - and Win
Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

In 2005, in experiments conducted jointly w/ Jared Curhan of MIT Sloan School of Management, researchers from the human Dynamic Group asked MBA students to take part in simulated face-to-face negotiations. One student played a middle manager taking a job in a new division, & the other the V.P. of that division. They were asked to negotiate the manager's salary package, with real monetary rewards at stake for the participants. The negotiations often lasted an hour or more. Yet in just five minutes, an electronic sensor could predict w/ 87% accuracy, which person would come out on top, merely by cuing in to bodily movements and manner of speech, ignoring words and strategy.

As the sensor data revealed, successful middle managers tended to be strong on "mirroring" behavior - unconscious mimicking of the gestures and movements of their conversational partners. This demonstrated empathy and understanding. In contrast the most successful vice presidents tended to talk more and control the pace of the conversation, a social behavior that the researchers referred to as "engagement." For both participants, a consistent emphatic tone, conveying confidence, was also critical.

- from "Strategy + Business Magazine" - September 07

Interesting experiment. Amazing that in just 5 minutes 87% accuracy could be reached as to who would come out on top. I've written about "mirroring" before on my blogs and in my book. The non-verbal factors of influence are amazingly powerful. Body language, tonality, and patterns have more power in general than actual content of what is being said. How often is one exposed to such teaching? I have yet to read a sales book that emphasizes non-verbal communication. Or psychology, communication, or speech book for that matter.

The closest literature approaching accurate training on using body language, tonality, etc. for influence would have to be NLP works by Bandler and Grinder. Although, acting books contain a wealth of information on these powerful forms of communication as well. A sales person might be better of taking acting lessons, than formal sales training.

Angel Armendariz

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