We have probably all been in the situation when we’ve wanted to do this. When you’d love to have a real-time mute button to press (or maybe fast-forward). A good skill to develop is to hone your ability to tune out the words that others are using and focus solely on nonverbal communication.
A tool to use is to pretend that you are watching a movie with the sound off. Notice the physical movement and positioning of others, facial expression, proximity of their personal space and eye contact when interacting with you. What part did you play in the silent movie? Do others appear to be more or less comfortable interacting with you? Do they move closer towards you or further away? Do they seek eye contact with you or avert their eyes? These are questions to ask yourself when you’re able to observe others around you “with the sound off”.
When using your own mute button, you can observe and make a call as to whether you are attracting or repelling those around you. Then you can zero in on just what you seem to be doing to create the attraction or separation. By noticing with purpose, you can discover what to do – and what not to do – to allow you to begin to act with purpose.
Using casual remarks
In using this technique you can become what Dr. Warren Bennis, calls a first-class noticer. This time, you’re leaving others muted and turning up the volume on your own monologue. What are you saying about yourself? Whether this is self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing, how would you describe the patterns that emerge around what you say about yourself to others?
Do you use vocal fillers? Such as; “what I really mean is …” or “I’m not going to lie to you …” If this is the case what might it mean? Does it mean that you regularly don’t know what you really mean, or that you regularly might just lie? No, it doesn’t but it could be confusing to the person you are talking to as they try to understand what you are really trying to say.
At times what we say about ourselves reveals with brutal honesty exactly what we believe and feel. At other times, it may represent the exact opposite of what we believe to be true. These are habits that we have created to sometimes mask and sometimes highlight our own strengths and weaknesses. However, through self-knowledge and really knowing yourself you can begin to premeditate effective behaviour.
Practise noticing with purpose, notice and remember what kind of tone your customers use in conversing with you, it can teach you a great deal. If you become a skilled noticer of others, patterns will emerge. Notice comments that you hear over a few days and notice whether they are positive or negative, nothing more complex. Are you hearing the same kind of comments from several people? Keep a list of these and once you have identified it as a habit you can begin to work on new habits to help you to break the pattern of negative and create new positive ones.