How do you undercut your message without opening your mouth? Leadership means managing your energy level as well as your words in order to influence peoples’ decisions, behaviors and actions. Want to trigger a positive response? Radiate positive energy when your mouth is shut. Want a negative reaction? You’ll soon learn how to spread bad vibes.

Let’s review how this worked in recent high profile cases. Were you influenced by watching the candidates’ personal warmth in round one of the presidential debates? Sure you were. Same with the economic turmoil. You’ve either been inspired or turned off by leaders’ energy levels and body language.

Just for fun, let’s go negative for a moment, shall we? Here are 5 surefire ways to trigger a negative response without opening your mouth:

  1. Ignore others in the room. Go ahead – ice others in an effort to diminish them. Granted, sometimes it’s inadvertent. You may just be nervous, so you fail to acknowledge others. But sometimes, the deep freeze is purposeful. You may avoid eye contact in an effort to dismiss people you feel superior to. Whatever the intent, icing people backfires. You’re the one who takes the hit, because you unwittingly come across as condescending or angry. Best to respectfully acknowledge and address the people with whom you disagree.
  2. Look like you don’t care. People form opinions about you with a quick glance at your face. They eyeball your mug, interpret its meaning and respond accordingly. You may be sending the wrong signal with a dour-looking expression, one that looks like you smelled something bad. Some of the world’s most successful leaders share warm facial expressions. They appear open and agreeable and benefit from it.
  3. Slap on a one-size-fits-all intensity level. Sometimes you need to tone it down and not come on too strong – especially when you’re conveying bad or unwelcome news. At other times, you need more intensity, such as in a presentation when you’re trying to inspire. Match your intensity to the specific situation.
  4. Bounce your lower body habitually. This is where many people need to tone it down. Pacing backand forth or bouncing your legs or feet are very distracting and make it difficult for others to focus on your words. Keep the lower body quiet in order to give power to your presence.
  5. Plaster on a smile. You’ve heard many times that you should smile. But the truth is, it has to be a genuine smile, or it can backfire on you. Plastered-on smiles don’t cut it; neither do contempt smiles. They’re toxic. Genuine smiles have a powerful effect because they increase your likability. People will cut you some slack if your emotions appear to be heartfelt.

The question is, how does your energy level com across to others? Do others define you as energetic? Stiff Engaging? Disinterested? Angry? Icy? As you know, when you communicate with someone, it’s not just the words you choose that send a message. People monitor the non-verbal signals you send. Your intensity, facial expressions, eye contact and body language all send signals that influence others’ decisions and actions.

The vibes you send are crucial for this reason: reciprocity. People give back to you what you give to them. Energy feeds on itself. Energized people create energy and engagement in others. If you look and sound engaged and self-assured, people will respond more positively to you. If you look off-putting, you’ll induce bad vibes and negative responses.

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