End boxing match meetings with the right body language

Tired of boxing match meetings? End them and win! Here’s how…

One complaint I hear from clients is their frustration with colleagues, teammates or opposing council who take over during meetings. This can be a sales pitch meeting to a group of executives, a settlement meeting, or the weekly team meeting. A sparring match ensues with an individual who must have the last word, push their own agenda, or run the time schedule off the rails. When I ask about the body language of these meeting crashers, I hear things like, “He puffs up as he blusters about and invades everyone’s space with his large gestures.” Or, “She bangs her fist on the table and stomps her feet like a child in a tantrum trying to get her way.”

Our quick reaction is to be even bigger or more bombastic than the offender. We may take up more space in the room, or press our point harder– matching force with force. This “dueling body language” is not effective. Before you are lured into a non-verbal boxing match, turn the tables on your “opponent” and stay in charge.

How? Do the opposite!

One of the most powerful tactics you have is to non-verbally take the high road. The brilliance to this is the fact our brains take in information and register the same signal no matter the side of the continuum the movement is on. We “read” each pair of movement attributes as the same signal- heavy or light, fast or slow, forward or back etc.

For example, in the above illustration, someone is trying to take over the meeting by taking up more space in the room. The opposite of that is to take up less space. To “box” and win, the manager should narrow his space and become more direct and focused. Taking up less space will be read as more authoritative. Remember the hierarchy in medieval times- the king rarely moved from his throne and the servants bustled about. Your calm and precision as a leader will make your opponent look foolish.

Similarly, if your meeting saboteur is using a lot of heavy movements like pressing on the table or stomping feet, be light! Gesture with less pressure. Once again, the others in the room will read the signal as one of perseverance with your point without the added tantrum. Try this and notice how you garner support and the naysayer is left wondering why she “lost.”

What do you notice in your meetings? Leave me a comment of a situation you find yourself in and I’ll tell you how your non-verbal language can make you more effective.

Learn all the opposites by working with Moving Image Consulting!