Using analogies along with appropriate and responsive nonverbal cues can help manage tricky objections and challenges. In a prior episode, GSB lecturer Bert Alper provided several tips and techniques for handling skeptical audiences. Today, we provide a few more useful ideas that were not included in the original episode. My name is Matt Abrahams and I teach Strategic Communication at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Welcome to a quick thinks episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, the podcast. So let's jump in and learn how body language can help us in difficult communication situations.
You know, we've spent a lot of time talking about what we can do with the content during an objection or some skepticism. What are your thoughts on nonverbal? What we do with our voice in our bodies? Because a lot of that can can work against the words that we're saying.
If we're not careful, there's two sides to this. So the first part is, as the speaker, quite literally, have your eyes open when you can. I mean, podcast mode, I might not be able to see my audience, but usually when I'm dealing with contentious information, my audience is probably going to be in the room or maybe on the video conference observing their behavior as a first step. If you see them starting to clench up or make some manifestation of frustration, lack of clarity, even anger, that's a signal that something you just said created that reaction.
And so now you know, at what point you got into the contentious content of your of your discussion, that's a key clue to how you're going to respond to that. So it's always important to observe and read your audience's body language in anticipation of these moments. Your own body language in response to that is critical as well.
And it's not just your body, but your voice as well. I'm glad that you keep on both of those because they're absolutely crucial. You and I both have talked about this forever. You don't want to fight fire with fire. So if they start to raise their voice, you raising your voice in in to match, that is not likely to lead to a happy ending. If you can remain calm and keep the emotional tension out of your voice.
As hard as that is, it does create an interesting opportunity to defuse. And your body language needs to go along with that, starting with what you're doing when they're raising the objection. You want to be an active listener, you want to communicate all of the signals that suggest you have a sincere interest in the concern they have and you're not going to whitewash over it. It's important that they feel heard and you want everything in your body to suggest you're listening attentively to them.
That means don't get your phone out while they're talking to you. Don't look at somebody else. Certainly don't roll your eyes as these comments are coming forward. You've got to put the best visual image of I care about this concern and I want to address your issues.
So it's leaning in its standing in a neutral position. Arms aren't crossed in front of your chest, those kind of things.
Absolutely. Similarly, when you start to respond, I think those same body language cues are valuable in the delivery of your response. So having a strong lower body with an active and open upper body shows that you're not wilting under the pressure. Right. But you're also being open and vulnerable. You're willing to hear the pushback. And for us, in a lot of my coaching situations, the difference between your lower body being solid and secure and grounded versus your upper body being open and in some ways more vulnerable physically.
Go ahead and throw your spears, throw your tomatoes. I'm here to receive all that. I'm not intimidated by that. And I want to I want to hear what you what you say. The other part that we haven't talked about at all here is the importance of eye contact. And in our small studio here, I'm enjoying the fact that I can make eye contact with you. In a larger audience, it's still critical to make sustained eye contact during your delivery of the information, and while the skepticism is being expressed, humanity appreciates eye contact.
We trust eye contact. It is one of the things that if you change that element of your communication style, it tends to have a huge impact on people's perception of your trustworthiness and of your stability and confidence. So being able to hold eye contact as someone is challenging you, very powerful position in that conversation. And then being able to maintain the eye contact as you deal with the response also shows that you've got good conviction and your ideas.
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