I was participating in a training for my campus job during my sophomore year of college. Loras College’s Admission staff was teaching a group of us students, how to appropriately take prospective students on a tour of campus.
What buildings to walk through, how to take cues on the prospect’s interests, how to navigate the campus during peak hours, how to speak to the parents, were all topics on which we were trained.
To this day, there is one lesson from that training that I still practice. I will never forget when our group approached the entrance door to the weight room. The staff person stopped us all, looked at the four of us straight in the eyes, and said, “When you are touring a prospective student, you do not stop at the door and point to the inside of the room. You enter this weight room, and lead them all the way through to the back wall, while explaining what the weight room offers all students.”
I was intrigued. He continued, “Do this especially when you are touring a female student. You must SHOW them that they belong in this weight room. This facility is not just for the male athletes. You must show them by your movement that they can take up space here. Our female prospects must feel that this space is rightfully theirs, just as much as every other spot on campus.”
This may not be earth shattering now, but back in 1995, when male sports teams were the pride and joy of college athletics, (regardless of their actual record), this was a momentous lesson for a female student, like me, at the time.
At the age of 19 years old, I was suddenly granted the “power” to help other young women feel a sense of belonging, by my movement. In fact, it was my job. I have never forgotten this lesson. How we move speaks volumes. Research of body language; from movement, posture, facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice proves to have significant influence on how others perceive us and our motives.
What do your movements communicate to others? Is this intentional?
Your movements can can send a message of belonging or support, as I was trained on campus. Your movements can also send messages of boundaries.
Years ago, a preschool teacher fell into a habit of providing me a verbal report, every day at school pick up. Her reports were not a concern about something out of the ordinary. She provided a long list of less-than-perfect behaviors which she saw my son do throughout the day. After chatting with the school director and confirming that my son was within the norms of 3-year old boy behavior, I was growing tired of the long unnecessary report she felt like she needed to give me, every single day.
Since I figured my 3-year-old’s behaviors were the norm and I had confidence in her handling of my son during the day, I did not want to wait around each day after school for an extra 15 minutes. Nor did I want to come off rude or confrontational. So, I decided to just smile, as she began, while gathering my son, his belongings and I simply started walking backwards toward the exit. It took her two days to stop. We never had to have a conversation about what I needed to know about my son’s behavior and what she had already handled hours before in her classroom. The simple act of walking away with a smile, did the trick.
Today, whether you at work, at home, in virtual meetings, with your kids or students or out in public running errands, I encourage you to think about what you want to communicate to whom. Do not leave the messages you send to others be unintentional. Then, let your movements do the talking.
Meg Bucaro is a communication strategist and college adjunct faculty who is passionate about positioning women for success by teaching them powerful communication behaviors. For more information on how to increase your credibility, likeability and influence, schedule a chat with Meg. https://megbucaro.com/contact/ or follow Meg Bucaro Communications here, https://www.linkedin.com/in/megbucaro/, https://www.instagram.com/meg_bucaro_communications/
Meg’s new book “Put Your Big Girl Pants On…and Other Power Moves to Increase Influence” comes out in 2023!