Communicate without saying a word. NEEDS EDITING
Consider the non-verbal gestures you extend to those around you. Does your manner, demeanor, and body language inspire a sense of confidence and purpose in your friends and colleagues? The way you carry yourself is important, right down to the way you dress. Consider the following two examples.
Reagan always wore a sportcoat when working in the Oval Office. This was another non-verbal gesture that clearly communicated to others, loud and clear, the great respect he had for the activities performed there. He did not take a casual approach to the great responsibilities of his office.
Another example of the importance of dress involves the first summit between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at Villa Fleur d’Eau in Geneva. American and Soviet representatives alike, vividly recall that bitterly cold day, when Ronald Reagan walked off the porch of the chateau and down several steps to greet Gorbachev.
Before these two men had met for the first time, some critics had doubted that the elder Reagan was physically and mentally equipped to negotiate with the young and talented Soviet leader. Dressed in a tailored blue suit and tie, Reagan walked down the steps to shake hands with Gorbachev, who emerged from his limousine wearing a heavy coat, thick scarf, and a hat. It is interesting to listen to those who were present that day describe the image that was shown to millions of television viewers throughout the world. They describe a strong, robust American leader shaking hands with a man who was heavily dressed, bundled up for the cold.
Non-verbal actions, images, and symbols speak volumes. How you dress, act and move projects an attitude that is picked up by those around you. The way you walk, shake hands, and share eye contact has an influence on the attitude and feelings of those at your family reunion, your golf outing, and your company picnic.
Other examples of non-verbal actions that spoke volumes include when Reagan laid a wreath at the grave of a fallen soldier and when he attended funeral services along with the families of those brave astronauts who lost their lives aboard the Challenger. He conveyed true compassion, genuine affection, and moral understanding without uttering a single sentence.
Be intentional; and before each event you attend, consider the attitude and manner you wish to project. Are you meeting with members of your sales staff who could use some encouragement? Are you walking into a meeting where critical negotiations are about to take place? Are you motivating a group of kids who are about to play their first lacrosse game of the season? Be deliberate on how you can best carry yourself to positively influence those meetings.
Reagan also communicated non-verbally through symbols. For instance, Reagan understood the importance of the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. It was more than a paint-and-repair job. It served as a non-verbal reminder to Americans and to the rest of the world that America was the home of freedom and liberty. It symbolized a restoration, not only of the statue, but of America to its rightful place as the Free World’s foremost defender of democracy.
Maybe it is time to put up your own non-verbal symbol of excellence. Can you add something to your home or office that will rally the troops? A great example of such a thing is located at the University of Notre Dame. Just above the doorway that leads to the football field is a sign that reads: Play Like a Champion Today. The sign was placed there by the legendary football coach, Lou Holtz. As each player walks beneath the sign, they reach up and touch it. What a simple, yet powerful, non-verbal affirmation of their goal. It speaks directly to the core values they share.
Another example would be the climbing wall you might see in the lobby of a headquarters-building occupied by a company that manufactures outdoor climbing and camping equipment. It makes a strong statement about the company and the perspectives that are shared by all of the employees.
A friend of mine who is a police officer once told me that if you want to know what your kids hold in highest esteem, just look at the things hanging on their bedroom wall. They might be posters of athletes, heavy-metal rockers, rebellious statements, scripture quotes, motivational photos, pictures of supermodels, maps of bike trails, fishing poles, or NASCAR race schedules. Whatever hangs on that wall represents the things that are most important to your child.
Similarly, how you decorate your house sends cues to your family and friends about what you most value.
Reagan believed that the White House belonged to the people. Therefore, the maintenance of that house reflected on the American people. In turn, when he and Nancy Reagan arrived at the White House and saw drab walls needing paint and worn-out carpeting needing replacement, Mrs. Reagan took on the project of renovating floors and mahogany doors that had not been sanded or refinished in decades. The Reagan’s also retrieved a treasure trove of fine furniture that was gathering dust in storage areas throughout Washington. Improvements to the White House were funded by private donations instead of taxpayer expense. In addition, when the Oval Office received a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting, Ronald Reagan added a picture of former President Calvin Coolidge, whose leadership qualities Reagan admired so much.
Is your office welcoming?
Have you created a welcoming presence at your office? Do you have flowers or candy at the front desk and an attendant with a smile? Do the magazines in the lobby reflect the core values of your company?
Setting the stage at home
How do you decorate and maintain your living space at home? Does your family see the Bible or the Torah in a prominent part of your house, or do they see golf clubs and wine bottles? Do they see wide screen televisions everywhere, or do they see books and musical instruments? Do they see poker tables and dart boards, or do they see flowers and family photos? The choices are yours, but be intentional when making those choices, room by room. It is up to you to set the stage for excellence!
Take an inventory of those ways in which you currently present yourself to others. Then, list ways you can improve your non-verbal skills to motivate and inspire your troops. Remember, for Reagan, a simple salute did wonders!