Many years ago, a drama teacher, exasperated at my bad acting in

a college play, shouted, “No! No! Your body is belying your words.

Every tiny movement, every body position,” he howled, “divulges

your private thoughts. Your face can make seven thousand different

expressions, and each exposes precisely who you are and what

you are thinking at any particular moment.” Then he said something

I’ll never forget: “And your body! The way you move is your

autobiography in motion.”

How right he was! On the stage of real life, every physical

move you make subliminally tells everyone in eyeshot the story of

your life. Dogs hear sounds our ears can’t detect. Bats see shapes

in the darkness that elude our eyes. And people make moves that

are beneath human consciousness but have tremendous power to

attract or repel. Every smile, every frown, every syllable you utter,

or every arbitrary choice of word that passes between your lips can

draw others toward you or make them want to run away.

.

Men—did your gut feeling ever tell you to jump ship on a

deal? Women—did your women’s intuition make you accept or

reject an offer? On a conscious level, we may not be aware of what

the hunch is. But like the ear of the dog or the eye of the bat, the

elements that make up subliminal sentiments are very real.

Imagine, please, two humans in a complex box wired with circuits

to record all the signals flowing between the two. As many

as ten thousand units of information flow per second. “Probably

the lifetime efforts of roughly half the adult population of the

United States would be required to sort the units in one hour’s

interaction between two subjects,” a University of Pennsylvania

communications authority estimates.1

With the zillions of subtle actions and reactions zapping back

and forth between two human beings, can we come up with concrete

techniques to make our every communication clear, confident,

credible, and charismatic?

 

Determined to find the answer, I read practically every book

written on communications skills, charisma, and chemistry

between people. I explored hundreds of studies conducted around

the world on what qualities made up leadership and credibility.

Intrepid social scientists left no stone unturned in their quest to

find the formula. For example, optimistic Chinese researchers,

hoping charisma might be in the diet, went so far as to compare

the relationship of personality type to the catecholamine level in

subjects’ urine.2 Needless to say, their thesis was soon shelved.

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