Understanding human behavior with Blake Eastman.
by Mike J. Agugliaro
In this week’s episode of The CEO Warrior Podcast, Mike Agugliaro interviews Blake Eastman who is the founder of the non-verbal group which has an educational and research facility based in New York. They study human behavior over the course of hundreds of hours and build systems which break down and explain the non-verbal human behavior. He also deals with psychology and poker.
Main questions asked:
• Is one angry when he/she has a clenched fist?
• Offshore workers are more adept at keeping focus when counting monotonous things like blinks.
• Exactly how Confidence is Expressed Nonverbally in a casual work environment.
• Clear, Compassionate Communication and how it can significantly improve Your Life, work office and how to manage your job and employees.
• The Practical Application of the Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours’ Module in your business.
• The Process of Extracting Information from Nonverbal Behaviours’.
• The Attraction Paradigm: The Nonverbal of Interest, Attraction, and Anxiety.
• Should people should express themselves much more often whether in their business or personal life
• Speaking of your larger goals of studying and understanding human behaviour, have you found that studying poker tells increases your understanding in non-poker situations?
• Is there a reliable patterns when it comes to blinking?
Key Lessons Learned
What is nonverbal behaviour?
• Nonverbal skills are of the utmost importance in the workplace, where a single inappropriate stare can send an employee packing.
• First, your handshake is crucial. Second, nuanced body language can effectively sabotage the competition. Third, there is a lot more behind nailing a presentation than how pretty you’re PowerPoint is!
• Exhibiting a mastery of nonverbal communication skills can be vital to your career. From meetings to interviews, we will discuss various situations, common mistakes, and how to best solve them.
• Most communication is nonverbal, and unfortunately, most people aren’t naturally equipped with the skills to use it effectively. This portion of the workshop will discuss tactics for using effective body language in everyday life.
• The simple power of touch and smile are incredibly effective methods for getting what you want. They both can lean lead to a significant increase in tips, cooperation, and more.
• You might have a hard time believing that you lie every single day, but studies show that people tell 2-3 lies every 10 minutes. Even conservative estimates suggest that we fib at least once every 24 hours.
• Interaction is a highly effective method for solidifying new information. An interactive class gives you the opportunity to practice and solidify what you have learned. Through both group participation and one-on-one interaction.
Three Key Points
• The Nonverbal Group is dedicated to building the largest human behaviour database and sharing the academic findings in the future. They also offer classes to teach reading human body language.
• Getting an individual to be their authentic self is probably the hardest step.
• Generally, people overestimate how much other people pay attention to them, underestimate the value of their expressed thought, and don’t finish things that they don’t get right the first time.
Reliable patterns in blinking
• Blink rate is relevant in a lot of areas. The main problem in using it is context. Meaning a lower blink rate isn’t, on its own, necessarily indicative of strength or weakness. You need a process to figure it out. However, we do have some players in our sample where a significant decrease in blink rate almost perfectly correlates with strength.
• Blinking also becomes relevant when it comes to what we call concealment strategies…. When there are these big moments, like someone making a big bet on the river, most people think there’s going to be some pattern that stands out. But really, it’s tell might be the concealment strategy the person is using to conceal their behaviour.
• And there’s different kinds of concealment strategies. For example, some people are always still when they bet on the river, strong hand or weak hand. But, when they’re bluffing, they’re noticeably more still than when they’re not. So it’s like the cognitive effort that someone uses to hide their behaviour is often their tell.
• So blink rate can be a part of a concealment strategy. But the only way you get this data is watching someone for a long time. It’s not easy. It’s easier when you have the luxury of being able to comb through a large sample size and show the same people with all different kinds of hands — then you can see the difference. But in reality it’s tough.
• But this is why I place a lot of emphasis on a player’s preflop behaviour — it creates a key you can use to describe postflop behaviour. Let me put it this way… it’s very hard for me to get a solid read on someone unless I’ve seen what happened pre.
How much of communication is really nonverbal?
• One of the most frequently quoted statistics on nonverbal communication is that 93% of all daily communication is nonverbal. Popular science magazines, students and media outlets frequently quote this specific number.
• However, studying human behaviour is a challenging task. The inherent flaws of social scientific research methodology combined with the incredible dynamic nature of human behaviour make this specific quantification close to impossible.
• The fact of the matter is that the exact number is irrelevant. Knowing that communication is specifically 75% nonverbal or 90% nonverbal holds no practical applications. The important part is that most communication is nonverbal. In fact, nonverbal behaviour is the most crucial aspect of communication.
• Based on my own research, I would state that the amount of communication that is nonverbal varies between 60 and 90% on a daily basis. This number depends on both the situation and the individual.
The do and don’t during different situations
An important job interview
Your level of success during a job interview is determined way before your interview actually begins, Eastman says. “I would be mindful of your body language before your interview and not during. So before the interview, some people are in interview rooms and are really stiff. And that’s a predictor of how they’re going to be during the interview,” he said. “The whole point is before to make sure you’re in a confident posture, and to make sure your thoughts before are positive. There’s no room for any kind of negative thoughts before an interview. Get rid of them.”
You can also pretty much throw out any of the old “rules” you know about how to conduct yourself during an interview, Eastman says. “The sole purpose of an interview is, of course, to convey your value and all that kind of stuff. But most importantly, you’re trying to build a connection between you and the person who’s hiring you. We hire based not on qualifications; we hire based on will we like the person and want to work with them. So, that’s your first task: trying to establish this relationship.”
“The old rule is to make perfect eye contact during an interview, but that’s bad advice,” he says. “When you talk to your best friend, what’s your eye contact like? It’s not 100%. It’s like 80 or 90%, or something of that nature. It you maintain eye contact the whole time, it doesn’t build an organic connection, because it’s fake.”
He also emphasizes that a confident posture is key, because ultimately, all people want what is hard to get. “It’s called justification of effort,” he explains. “If you seem like you’re so available, if you’re always available, it doesn’t work. The interview is just as important in terms of, you’re interviewing them, and you’re trying to figure out what their culture is like. They should be proving themselves to you, not the other way around. The most prestigious people out there don’t need that company; the company needs them. If you approach it like that, you should walk through the door and they go, holy shit, I like this guy/girl. Let me do what I can to get them. That’s the connection that’s never going to come if you’re stiff.”
And the best way to express that confidence is by not hesitating. “Confident people make decisions quickly,” he explains. “Movement should be A to B, not A1 to A2 to A3 to B. So when you walk into a room, you should walk into the room. When you shake someone’s hand, you should shake someone’s hand. If you see someone who lacks confidence, their movements are never A to B. They hesitate.”
Single and on the hunt
It’s Friday night, and you and your friends have decided to hit the town on the search for some cute guys/gals. What’s the most sure-fire way to score points with the object of your desire? “Add value,” Eastman says.
“The orientation reflex is something we coach a lot. You want to orient yourself toward others and provide value,” he says.
“This piece of advice has created tons of relationships from my classes. It’s always about what you can add to the conversation. Sit there and wait for something you’re going to know about, then add something. I’m always adding, never taking. That’s one of the worst things people do.”
For example: you’re at a bar with a friend and see the guy/gal you want to approach, but you’re nervous and unsure of how to go about it. Get close enough to listen in on a bit of their conversation with friends, and then jump in when you know something about the topic at hand. Eastman also emphasizes that you must take risks if you want the payoff to be greater.
“Just go out and push your comfort zone. You can’t sit at home and watch TV and just expect Prince Charming to fall through the window and land in your lap. You have to be proactive.”
Another tip, which Eastman stole from Internet start-up culture: Always Be Testing. “Find out what works and what doesn’t work,” he says. “Why don’t we do that in social interactions? People act the same way. Try things out; see what works and what doesn’t work for you. You start to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Be more 2.0 when it comes to social interactions.”
A big work presentation or public speaking gig
The most common mistake people make when it comes to public speaking, Eastman says, is that they wrongly assume that giving a presentation is all about them.
“Presentations are never about you,” he says. “There are three kinds of messages: there’s the intended message, there’s an actual message, and then the received message. In between these things are filters. I want to say, ‘Hey guys, welcome today, I’m so excited to teach this class!’ But, I’m really tired, this is my fifth class of the day, so when I say it, I think it says that, but it really comes across as ‘I don’t want to be here.’ Then it goes through the filters of the audience, and all of a sudden, the message that’s received is fundamentally different from the message that’s intended.”
“So what I tell people for presentations is first, write down all your filters,” he says. “And if you do it, you’ll see that all your filters are about you. But presentations are not about you. They’re about your audience. And it’s not possible to be a good presenter if you’re so concerned with how everyone views you. The whole point is trying to remove those thoughts.”
Once you’ve brought the focus rightfully to your audience and not on yourself, then you can think about your body language. A good place to start: “When you make an emotional conviction, palms up. When you make a factual one, palms down,” Eastman says. “Speeding up and slowing down your speech is also an incredibly effective method.”
And don’t be afraid to call out and confront the filters that are holding your audience back. “If I see someone in my audience squinting, I’ll ask, ‘Are the lights bothering you? We’ll get that fixed.’ Because it’s impossible for me to get my message received if there’s something going on with my audience,” he says.
There’s all these little tricks if someone’s not paying attention: call their name and ask them what they think about something, and they’ll re-enter the conversation. Then you know you’ve got them for the rest of the hour. Call out the distractions. It’s all about trying to cut through your filters.”
Tips on how to improve your nonverbal cues and body language to empower your life
• Increase Your Self-Awareness – People are commonly concerned with their body language immediately before a stress-provoking interaction, such as a meeting, presentation or date. However, in order to increase self-awareness and modify the signals you project, you need to pay attention to this issue much more frequently. When having a conversation with your spouse or best friend, or while waiting in a café, ask yourself: “How my body language may be perceived right now? Is what I am displaying reflective of how I want to be perceived?”
The first step in modifying the impressions we give off is to be consciously aware of our signals. Try asking yourself these questions five times a day in a wide range of social interactions. You may be surprised by the answers you uncover.
• Do More Than Just Power Pose – After working with thousands of individuals at The Nonverbal Group and leading classes in nonverbal communication. However, because behaviours typically have a powerful effect on feelings and thoughts, modifying them first provides an amazing shortcut to the process. The goal is to use behaviours as a gateway to change thoughts and emotions.
Here are some of the things you should do with your clients to transform them into strong nonverbal communicators:
I. Power Pose — modify your posture so that you are occupying space in the best position. It may feel incredibly weird, and at times obnoxious, but that doesn’t matter—because it works! Make sure you are alone and imagine the most confident version of yourself. What that person would look like? Now, expand your body and power pose.
II. Move — Jump up and down, throw some punches or do some push-ups. Movement is an incredible method for reducing anxiety and generating energy that you probably didn’t think was there.
III. Eliminate All Negative Thoughts — do not let a single negative thought enter your mind. Stick to highlighting your strengths, not weaknesses. Negative thoughts will create negative behaviours, so don’t allow yourself to entertain them. While working with thousands of people, I have noticed that negative thoughts are, for the most part, not even grounded in reality.
IV. Consider what’s the Worst That Can Happen — most social anxiety is often irrational. Really ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” If this date doesn’t go well or this interview isn’t a success, life will still go on — and you will be fine.
V. Visualize Success — Imagine what it would be like if every single thing went perfectly. How would you feel? What emotions would accomplishing your goals evoke? Focus on these emotions while trekking toward the summit. There is absolutely nothing standing in the way of accomplishing your goals, except your negative thoughts. Don’t let them govern or override your emotions and behaviour.
VI. Practice — Practice not only makes perfect, but also allows you to create thoughts that highlight the fact that you are prepared. Then, when you are having that internal dialogue with yourself, you can say, “I’ve prepared for this, I know what I’m doing, and I’m ready!”
The changes these techniques have on behaviour are so profound that sometimes people don’t even recognize themselves after implementing them. Give these tips a try and watch yourself transform into a confident, capable and effective nonverbal communicator.
Blake Eastman is the founder and head instructor of The Nonverbal Group, where he conducts independent research and teaches individuals to become more effective communicators through the identification and modification of nonverbal behaviours. In addition to his work at The Nonverbal Group, he teaches psychology at the City University of New York.
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