How To Use Action Instead Of Words To Impress Others
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IF, in response to your call, a messenger boy comes to your office thirty minutes after the time he ought to have arrived; if he lazily shuffles into the office, leans against the wall with body out of poise, and knees loose-jointed—you know that he is not the kind of a boy who will hurry to deliver your message, even if in words, he faithfully promises to do so.
It is the old principle; actions speak louder than words—yes, a thousand times louder.
Just as a boy's movements convince you much more than his words do, so also your movements convey to others much more than do your words.
Some years ago a very successful sales-man was presenting a proposition to a board of directors in the city of New York for the purpose of securing a large contract. I happened to be present, as a guest of one of the directors, because my advice was sought on another matter which was to be taken up the same afternoon.
The salesman was a good talker, his proposition was good and his presentation, so far as words were concerned, was clear and definite.
But, it was evident from his eye action that he was much concerned about how the members of the board were receiving each point which he made. He kept an "eagle eye" on every one of them, and he did it in too evident a manner. Although his proposition was good, and his presentation excel-lent, the board postponed making a decision until the two other men with similar propositions could be heard.
The first salesman lost out and a quiet, unassuming man won the contract, although I felt certain that the conditions presented by the first man were the better.
Later, in talking to my friend, I inquired why he had voted to give the contract to the second salesman. He shrugged his shoulders, and replied : "Why, really, I don't know; but, damn it, I didn't like the way that man looked at me. I felt as though he was trying to pull a game on us, although I must admit his proposition did seem all right."
The suggestion of the posture of your body is more powerful than the words which you utter. If your posture contradicts your words, others will not believe your words. No matter how much a man talks about his vitality, you disbelieve him, if he drags him-self around, back bent, shoulders stooped, and head drooping. As the postures of others make an impression upon you, so your posture communicates something to others and influences them.
Since success depends upon dealing with other people, even the way you stand is important.
Posture suggests mental balance, or lack of it!
A man of normal mentality controls his body, and knows that he can control it. Such a man is able to stand with his weight upon one leg at a time. Leaving the other leg free so that he can easily take a step forward, backward, or to the side. When there is mental and moral balance, there is physical balance. If, when you walk, you shift your weight easily from one foot to another, others subconsciously feel that your mind controls your body, and they consider you a man of balanced mind.
In contrast, the "bum" who frequents the street corner shoves his hands in his pockets, stands with spread legs with his weight on both of them. He uses his legs as physical props, always indicating that he has not the mental or moral power to control and balance his body.
Recently, in a bookstore, I saw a retail salesman fail because of his posture. He was trying to sell a book on International Law. He was trying to impress the customer with his (the salesman's) own knowledge of the subject. He asserted that he, himself, had read the book and that he considered it the best book on the subject.
But, he stood with his legs at least a foot and a half apart, the weight was on both legs. And, I saw the customer's eyes go back again and again to the body of the salesman.
Even though the customer was unconscious of what affected him, the lack of poise killed the sale.
The customer actually wanted to buy a book on the subject. He was not a student of law ; he had no definite opinion as to the authority of the author; but authority as represented by the salesman's poise was unbalanced authority.
To make certain of my conclusions, I casually entered into conversation with the customer while we looked at other books. I led the talk back to the subject of Inter-national Law, and the salesman. Referring to him, the customer said to me: "I don't know anything about the subject, but he knows less than I do ; I don't believe he has ever read that book."
And, the truth is this : the book salesman had read that book, and he does know a great deal about books on International Law. He told the truth with his words ; he lied about himself by means of his posture ; and the customer believed the posture instead of the words.
If your posture contradicts your words, the other man will believe what your posture tells him, and discredit whatever your words say.
Stability is suggested by use of large muscles.
Too frequent use of the little muscles—wrist, finger, and ankle muscles—indicates quickness but also changeability and instability. The predominant use of the large muscles—hip, thigh, arm, and leg muscles—indicates strength, stability and a consciousness of power. Walk like a king among men, strongly tensing the back thigh muscles so that you seem to be pushing the earth away from you at every step.
Action is so powerful as a means of communication, that, when you see a man walk with a long, free stride, swinging his legs from his hip, your mind compels you to think of him as a man of power.
If, when talking of a big proposition, you emphasize it by light, easy and effeminate gestures, the other man will think that you are not a substantial individual upon whom he can depend, and he will think of your proposition as he thinks of you.
If your words say one thing about you, and your tones or action say another, others lose confidence in you.
A splendid young man who had been a telegrapher for six years, went to a millionaire with a very good proposition. He called five times ; but the wealthy man refused to cooperate with him. To me, the man of wealth said : "The proposition seems all right; but the young man's too changeable, he's not dependable."
The young man was stable and dependable, but something which he did while presenting his proposition told the millionaire a falsehood about the young man. Operating a telegraph key for years had become a habit, and the young man's fingers were always moving—tapping, tapping, something—whenever he talked. That habit told lies about him.
For three days, I trained the young man to keep his hands and fingers quiet so that he would appear as he really was—a calm, reliable, dependable young man. Then, he again called on the millionaire and the deal was closed within an hour, because his words, his tones, and his actions had been harmonized. All told the same truth about him, and the wealthy man became confident of his capacity and dependability.
Your success depends on handling other people.
The degree of your success depends on the impression of yourself which you convey to the minds of others.
Action is the most powerful means of communication.
Pose is the result of action. It is the means which creates the most stable and lasting impression.
If you stand with your legs spread from side to side, you give others the impression that you are not sure of your position, or that you are afraid you cannot maintain it. No man stands thus, unless he subconsciously desires to prop his own mind, by " physical props." In other words, such a pose indicates that the man self-consciously fears his ideas or decisions are not strong enough to stand on their own merit. Or he fears he is wrong and that you will find it out; or he fears that he cannot win you to accept his plan or proposition.
A slouching attitude gives others the impression that you lack energy. Such an attitude tells the other man that you have not sufficient energy to carry out what you determine to carry out, or it tells him that you are too lazy to use the energy you have —too lazy to use enough to turn your "ideas" to actual success.
If you stand in a slouching attitude, or with legs spread from side to side, when giving directions to others, or when talking of your proposition to other people —then they get the impression that you are afraid your directions or commands will not be obeyed, or that you are afraid you cannot fulfill your promises, or that you are afraid they will find out the weakness of your proposition.
There is, however, one pose which conveys to others a true impression of your faith in yourself, of your courage, of your certainty of success, and of your consciousness of power.
It is this : stand with one foot in front of the other, and a little to one side, and bear the weight of your body on one limb at a time, so that you have a good base for balancing your body. This makes the other person feel that you are so strong, mentally, that you can easily balance your body on one foot, and keep the other ready for action. It gives the impression that you are both stable and energetic—that you possess both these qualities at the same time.
If your pose lacks the suggestion of perfect balance, it limits you, and gives others false impressions of you.
Change to the perfect balance, by consciously practicing the balanced pose, and consciously thinking of what you are doing every moment of your practice. This means more than thinking of it when you begin the exercise, and then forgetting it, and continuing without conscious attention.
Consciously think of every movement of the exercise every moment of the practice. This is what brings quick change, complete change, and permanent change.
The pose of the head is powerful. Not many years ago, I asked an American woman this question: "What is it that gives the greatest impression of personal worth?"
She was known throughout the world as a woman of influence, in national and inter-national affairs. She was a woman of great wealth, of social prestige, of culture, and a renowned beauty.
Imagine my surprise when she answered, "It is not wealth nor beauty, nor position; it is the pose of the head."
Mere lifting of the head upward, holding it up, and easily balancing it, gives the impression of adding another inch or two to the height of the individual. This increases the impression of life and vitality. This impression of life and vitality, created in the other person's mind, is not limited to impressions of physical power. The mentality of the individual and his character are judged by this indication of virility.
What is your impression of the man, whose shoulders droop, whose head hangs forward or to one side? How different it is from your impression of another individual who stands erect, with head up, accentuating the life-line of the body, and the strength of mind and virility of character.
If the pose of your head limits your efforts by giving others a poor impression of you, change it. Practice before a mirror. Make your practice conscious and discriminative. Continue the practice until—with a book on your head—you are able to walk about your room without the book slipping off. Continue this practice until you can carry a book thus, without feeling stiff and tensed when doing it. Then, the pose of your head will be erect, and your carriage easy.
If you have limitations of form, features, or bearing, overcome them, not only by thinking of what you want to be, but by action.
To more truly impress others, make your facial features express and communicate your cheer and joy, and your fellow feeling for others.
To develop yourself, carry your body, and your head, in such a way that their activities react on the brain centers, and produce actual changes in your brain.
By such practice, your desire and your effort become permanent and habitual, so that you appear at ease even when you are making a conscious effort to convey a true impression of yourself.
Superiority is suggested by action.
To give others the best impression of yourself, your activity, your energy, your endurance, train your body to the erect, upright posture so that it will always tell the truth not only about your character, but of your proposition as well.
You never can succeed in leading others unless you make them feel that you are superior. If you say it in words, others will call you a bluff or a conceited fool. There is a better way. Every man of power easily balances his head on his shoulders and holds his head well. The habitually uplifted head gives an impression of superiority which no man in the world can withstand.
He was a good sales talker, a clerk behind
the counter, trying to sell me some candies. He said they were " excellent sweets." My taste told me they were rancid. He said they were delicious.
They smelled " oniony."
He said they were soft and fresh.
My sense of pressure told me they were like marbles.
I did not buy them, and you would not have bought them, for every soul buys because of the evidence of its senses. Why then, bother much about sales talks?