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Cues & Gestures for Better F2F & Virtual Communication

Entrepreneur “What You’re Saying When You’re Not Saying It” “A Brief Guide to the Cues, Gestures, and Body Positions That Lead to Better Meetings and Connections.” by Jason Feifer

Read Entrepreneur for all the details

Summary by 2244

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A cue cycle-you nod and your colleague nods back. This is mirroring when we “unconsciously mimic each other’s behavior.” It’s a way to, according to Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Cues:Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication, to get “everyone to open up and feel really collaborative.” Other common cues that might encourage collaboration include “holding your hands open, as a gesture of welcoming. A slow, triple nod encourages people to talk longer.” Keep your body open rather than “crossing your arms over your chest, which can make you seem closed off.” This type of signaling is possibly more important in today’s virtual world.

Tips you can use

Lean In, or Lean Back?

Leaning in is action-oriented. “So if you want to show someone you’re engaged, lean forward when they’re talking.” Conversely leaning away is “usually signaling that we don’t like something or that we’re not being completely honest.”

Less Comfort, More Distraction

“When people have uncomfortable conversations, they tend to fidget.” So called “‘comfort gestures’” include small “movements we make with our hands or faces, to distract ourselves from the discomfort of the situation.” Careful, as these gestures diminish perceived charisma and “make other people uncomfortable.” Examples are wringing hands, swaying, cracking knuckles, rubbing arms, biting pens and bouncing.” “Displacement Tactics” to avoid these "comfort gestures" include: holding a pen, “stop wearing jewelry or clothes that require adjustments, carry a mug of coffee or tea, use a clicker during presentations, lean against a podium [and] get your hair out of your face.”

Connect Better Over Video

For more effective engagement during virtual meetings “Speak words that reference touch. For example, on a Zoom call, you might say, “‘I’m sending you a virtual high five!”

If like most of us, without formal training in presenting over video, you might wonder who is right with respect to how close one should appear on screen. Is the colleague hanging back in their stream or the colleague with their face up close that has it right? The guidance given here is “‘It’s always better to be at least 1.5 feet away [from the camera] so more body is showing and viewers can see your hands when you’re gesturing. That way you can lean in on certain points without cutting off your entire body…so you can lean infor emphasis and not be too close.’”

Build a Better Connection

According to Van Edwards “we judge people based on two factors-warmth and competence.” “So when you’re in an interaction, you want to have a balance of warmth and competence cues.” Example of a warmth cue “Raised Eyebrows.” Example of competence “distance between earlobe and shoulder” as opposed to when we’re “anxious or afraid, we shrink into ourselves” by raising our shoulders. Something dubbed a “Danger Zone Cue” is pursed lips which implies we are “holding back or disengaging.” Also, unless intended, avoid a “furrowed brow” as it shows “us to be unhappy or less agreeable.”

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