Have you ever heard someone say “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it”? Our nonverbal communication trumps the words that we say and yet most of us fail to place more emphasis on how we are going to say something rather than what we are going to say.
Nonverbal communication includes body language, voice tone and ornaments. Ornaments are things we use for decoration so in this context we are referring to how we dress, the colors we wear, etc.
Meet Kyle, a 26-year-old online dater who is looking for a relationship.
His online profile was not generating much attention. Chevrolet Canada decided to see if they could help him increase his online dating traffic and at the same time collect some data regarding the image of their truck.
But how can the vehicle you drive affect your dateability?
Simply put: the halo effect.
The halo effect as defined by Wikipedia is a cognitive bias in which an observer’s overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer’s feelings and thoughts about that entity’s character or properties. In essence, the halo effect makes everything around you and everything you do look better.
Professor Stephen Ceci performed a case study on two groups of students. He scripted both classes the same, used the same teaching materials and presented the material in exactly the same way – except in one class he used power posing.
Power posing is how we show power, confidence and credibility with our nonverbal communication.
In Professor Ceci’s research, he taught one class using power posing and the other class in exactly the same fashion but without power posing. He then had his students rate him in the following areas:
- Instructor knowledge
- Textbook quality
- Fairness in grading
Ceci hypothesized that he would score higher in the areas of accessibility or warmth as well as in the area of instructor knowledge or competence. What really happened? Ceci scored higher in all five areas. That’s correct, Ceci even scored higher in the area of the textbook quality!
But how could this be? A principal known as the halo effect which is sometimes called “what is beautiful is good” principle is the cause. Politicians and celebrities use this principle when they promote a product or idea that you like and respect. The feedback loop is that if you like or respect the product, you will in turn respect and like the person representing it; and vice versa, if you like the person, you will like and respect the product.
The 2015 Chevy Colorado commercial demonstrates the effective use of the halo effect. Chevrolet wanted to know if simply driving a truck could enhance a man’s impact and desirability. In their research of men, women and children, they found that men that own a truck vs men that own a car are seen to be:
- 85% more handsome
- 76% more resourceful
- 100% more likely to have an awesome pet
In fashion we speak refer to a similar phenomenon called embodied (enclothed) cognition. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology defines enclothed cognition to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes.
The research found the physical experience of wearing clothes as well as the meaning attached to them had a cognitive effect.
“Physically wearing a lab coat increased selective attention compared to not wearing a lab coat. Wearing a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat, and compared to simply seeing or even identifying with a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat.”
The principle of enclothed cognition demonstrates that the physical experience of wearing clothes that has meaning attached to it can lead to better decision making. If the general population attaches “handsome and resourceful” to those that drive a truck, then simply by driving one helps us feel that way and once again the positive feedback loop is engaged.
The clothes you wear and the vehicle you drive not only sends a nonverbal message to others regarding your credibility, confidence and influence but more importantly it sends a message to yourself. I sometimes like to call this “fake it till you make it”. That is, if your nonverbal communication, which includes body language, voice tone and ornaments, are congruent with the way you would like to feel, your emotions and chemical responses will begin to respond to match your actions.
Stacy London’s TLC program “Love, Lust or Run” demonstrates this principle. Her clients are first shown what the general population thinks about their style, that is, do they love it, do they lust it or do they want to run from it. It is deeply emotional to let go of a style that you have been comfortable with and identified with for years.
Stacy employs the positive feedback loop by getting responses regarding the former and new style to engage the feedback loop and help her clients connect meaning to their new style and identify with new emotions from authentic responses. The goal of the show is to find congruency with the image they are trying to portray and the image they are portraying. Once this happens, the feedback they get from others will positively reinforce their choices and hopefully the client will retain the new style.
This is one of my favorite episodes where Stacy’s client Rew did not identify or attach positive emotions with her new style until she listened to the feedback from others. When we change our nonverbal communication it’s important that we become first aware of the message we are sending to others, then move through the discomfort phase that we all experience with change so that we can adopt a more consistent and congruent overall image.
What happened with Kyle and his dating sight results? Check it out! Simply being photographed with the 2015 Chevy Colorado produced an increase of 3000% in interest in his profile. Whether your goal is to increase your impact, presence and charisma on dating sights, in business or on social media, be sure to understand what your nonverbal communication is telling the world.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
How has changing something about your nonverbal communication impacted your results?
Please share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments area below.
Remember to share as much detail as possible as your experiences and stories may resonate with and inspire others, and we are all here to help each other speak up, stand out and show up as the ultimate best version of you.