I’ve actually blogged about this before, but I’d like to point out a particular habit or quirk of body language that our Prime Minister has, that I think is getting in the way of his communication.
Ooh get me!
I noticed it then in my original blog post about eighteen months ago, I’ve noticed it on several occasions since – and I noticed it again yesterday. Hence why I’m back on it (!) and all over it again ‘like a rash’ today!
So yes. There is a particular “atypical” way in which David Cameron tends to hold his hands, which I don’t think is particularly helpful – and in fact is ‘getting in the way’ of how he communicates and the overall impact of his message.
Specifically, I notice that his hands are tense – and that he tends, as a direct result of this tension, to hold his hands stiffly. And I notice that he generally tends therefore, to ‘karate chop’ his hands about, as he makes his particular case of the day:
Be it when I first noticed it, to convince us (during a particularly ‘light’ news period I remember) about his idea for the “Big Society” here in Britain. Or indeed again just the other day, when explaining why Britain was going to take a particularly tough stance – and how he was even prepared to invoke a veto, on current European “Eurozone” Budgetary talks.
Take a look at the picture above. What impact do you think his body language, in terms of his hands, has?
You’ll notice that the tension in his hands is fundamentally distracting.
It has the overall impact of ‘hardening’ his message – or whichever piece of communication he is trying to convey – with the overall effect of ‘keeping us out’ i.e “not letting us in” to what it is he is trying to say or convince us of.
It looks in fact like he’s just trying too hard.
As we often mention on our courses as a “top tip” on Communication Skills:
“Your hands are a barometer to how you are feeling”.
It is almost as simple and clear a proposition as “Relaxed hands = Relaxed speaker” and of course the exact opposite of that is also true:
If you are holding yourself in a tense way, then we will unavoidably notice that quality of tension – and in a nutshell: We will perceive you as being tense (remembering of course ‘perception is everything’) and we will therefore not be convinced.
And that, quite simply, is what is at stake here: If you hold yourself with tension, then you are fundamentally missing a clear opportunity to be more convincing.
So letter to Mr Cameron (!) :
Dear Mr Cameron
You need to relax your hands. Your hands are currently a distraction. They are creating a barrier of tension. As a result, you are currently “wasting a lot energy” – or at least applying some of it in the wrong direction – and it is proving harder therefore, for you to convince us of the various strands of policy that you are trying to convey.
If you would allow me to coach you, then I would work with you to demonstrate that it is actually a very simple habit to correct.
Self-awareness is of course everything – and by making you more aware of your tendency or habit, I am confident that by working with you to change it, you would notice that by “softening” your approach, then this would have “subtle but seismic” results as to the overall effect of your Impact.
At the moment this element of your body language is making it look like you are simply “working too hard” with your communication, and you are resorting to ‘chopping the air’ to convince us.
I appreciate of course that the “Big Society” was quite a complex proposition to put across to us in the first place, and I therefore do understand why you might have resorted to ‘chopping the air’ to convince us (after all, we still don’t really know to this day what it was that you were banging on about). However that said, I hope that I have now convinced you that ‘chopping the air’ is nevertheless and in any case a bad habit to have got in to.
P.S Thanks very much Mr Cameron – here all week – and ‘strangely available’ for coaching!
So Top Tip for Number 10 and for the rest of you too:
- Your hands are indeed a “barometer” to how you are feeling.
- Most of our tension tends to go to our ‘peripheries’ – and to our hands in particular.
- You should therefore aspire to keep your hands “soft and relaxed” to demonstrate that all important quality of relaxation, in order to “let us in more” to what it is that you are conveying.