Craig Groeschel - How to Communicate with Charisma
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Craig Groeschel: Let me tell you about somebody that I've been looking forward to interviewing for so long. Vanessa Van Edwards is a friend, for about the last two years we've been getting to know each other. She is the founder and lead investigator at the Science of People. People all over the world listen to her incredible teaching. She's got more than 50 million people who watch her YouTube tutorials and her TEDx talk. She has two best selling books. "Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People", and the most recent one that I'll hold up for those of you that are watching it's called "Cues Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication". And there are few people more charismatic than you. Vanessa, welcome to the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.
Vanessa Van Edwards: Oh my goodness, I'm so honored to be here. Thank you for that beautiful intro. I hope I, is the most amazing interview ever. So I can't wait to share.
Craig Groeschel: Well, a lot of people will be listening, a few will be watching and just as a side note, we had Vanessa take out her AirPods with cords because her hands are such a big part of a communication. We didn't wanna ripping those out of her ears. And so if you're watching, you're gonna get a masterclass in verbal communication from one of the best out there. Let's start with the basics and then we're gonna dive into some more specifics, especially around your book Cues. But one thing we know a lot of people say of leadership, they're gonna say that leadership is influence. And one of the things I love about what you do, Vanessa, is you really help us all grow in our influence one interaction at a time. When is it that you first discovered in your own life that you actually had the ability to influence other people?
Vanessa Van Edwards: I think when I think about influence, and this is especially important in my life, I didn't realize that our influence comes from just being present. In other words, I didn't realize how contagious we are, our charisma, our bad moods, our good moods and pretty early on I realized there was this effect that if you walked into a room and there was one person in a bad mood, it infected everyone. And I remember, I think this was in college, I went to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, for any of my southern friends. And I remember this distinctly. I was in a study group, I walked into the room, I was in a really nice mood, right? It was like a lovely day. And there was one person in the room who was just down. They were just having a bad day. And I remember the entire room got brought down even I was like, "Gosh, yeah, I am stressed, I am burnt out". As he started talking about how burnt out he was, and I had this aha moment of if one person in a bad mood could infect a room, could one person in a really good mood infect a room? That was the first time I ever remember having that idea that maybe we could walk into a room and infect good if we wanted to. And that was, I think the seed of me diving into a lot of the research on how contagious our emotions are. And one of the first studies I found after that, 'cause I had access to all these academic databases at Emory was a study that was done by Richard Wiseman and he found that highly charismatic people are the most contagious. So yes, people in bad moods are contagious, but more importantly, if you rank high on the charisma scale, you are more infectious. You're infectious on phone calls, video calls, even listening to this podcast, I could infect you with a good mood or a bad mood depending on where I'm at. And so I thought that was so powerful that actually working on your charisma could make you more influential.
— I think this is so important, especially right now. It's interesting, a lot of the guests that we're talking to say that even though we're moving what to what most would consider to be a little bit of a post pandemic world or mindset, their moods aren't moving on. In fact, a lot of people seem to be struggling more now today than maybe they were in what would we might call the peak of the chaos. And so I think right now it really, really matters in, what would you say to a leader that is walking into meetings where there would be more people in a bad mood and let's say the leader, not all leaders are naturally charismatic and maybe they're not. What advice would you give them to help lift the mood and help people see what's good in the world and what we can do to make a difference instead of getting stuck in the muck?
— So I think the biggest mistake that we make as leaders or trying to have influence is we have to be positive all the time. That is impossible. I think that one of the reasons why we're still stuck in this like burnout, we're post chaos, but we still feel like we're kind of in the chaos is because we feel like I have to be positive all the time, or I'm not a good leader. That is not true. You one, you don't have to be positive all the time to have influence. You also don't have to be extroverted to be charismatic. Right, those are two things that I think we should bust. So for example, if you walk into a room and you have the pressure on your shoulders of being positive and happy, one, it rings is inauthentic. if you don't feel that way, second, that will burn you out faster than anything else. So actually what I want you to think about is what is the relief emotion that you can bring as a leader? So that isn't often positivity. So let's say that you have a company that's feeling like they're facing a lot of problems or a lot of challenges. The relief emotion to challenge, I think is togetherness, is unity. So that means you're going in and your number one goal is not pepping everyone up or being responsible for making them happy. No, it's making them feel less alone. And so your approach is, "Hey, I know we're in it. I know we're in the muck. You are not alone, I feel it too. I woke up today a little bit worried. You're so good at this". When you talk about humility, I think an aspect of humility is sharing the relief emotions. So togetherness, we're in it together, but we're gonna figure out how to do it. Here's how we're gonna solve it. Or let's say that you feel like your team is burnt out well then all you're bringing is not necessarily positivity, what you're bringing is resetting. How can you reset the energy? How can you bring a refuel in? And that's not necessarily positive, but it's more of an emotion that matches. And then I think people search to you for, ah, this person is bringing me answers. They're bringing me relief.
— That is so, so good. I love that idea of bringing relief. I think that sometimes as leaders, we feel pressure to come in with positivity, and sometimes that's very inauthentic or it's just predictable. And the word that I was using Vanessa, was I feel, and I think relief really captures it better. I feel like people need to be settled right now that they're unsettled in most areas of their lives. And so I've been asking how do we help people feel settled? But I think another way to look at it is they feel pressure everywhere. There's weirdness outside of work, so they bring it into work. And I think that's a really good thing for leaders to do is to accurately diagnose what is the problem and what is a relief that we can bring into the situation that gives a breakthrough so we can actually solve the problems that are there. Because sometimes we're so negative. I'd love to dive into something that you say I think is actually really, really funny because you're.
— I was funny? Yay.
— It's, yeah, you're layers, but you're just so you know from my perspective, you come across as incredibly, authentically confident with transparency, with vulnerability, with strength, with charisma and yet I actually believe you when you tell me that you're a recovering awkward person.
— Oh, yes.
— Which is a funny phrase. And so I'm recovering awkward person. I think most of us as leaders, if we're really, really honest, we feel some combination of insecure, unprepared, under qualified, awkward, something like that. Since you were awkward and you're not now, what advice do you give to the rest of us to grow through our insecurities?
— Okay, this is a everyday battle. So here's the big myth I wanna busts about awkwardness is it's a lifelong process and that's good, right? Like awkwardness is a sister emotion to vulnerability. So if we can keep some of our awkwardness, I think that keeps us humble. So here's what I want you to think about is, well, first of all I was surprised when I first quote unquote came out as a recovering awkward person, right? When I admitted this to people, I thought I hope you know, a couple dozen people will relate, little did I know that most people identify with this. So this is you and you're like, "Yes, I do have awkwardness". You are not alone. We just don't talk about it. Here's what I want you to think about. I want you to diagnose how your awkwardness dresses up. So I think that social fear or awkwardness, they can dress up as different things and we have to know how our awkwardness comes out. So for example, some people, when they feel awkward and awkwardness, let's break it down. It's feeling rejected, it's feeling scared of judgment, it's feeling disliked, it's disliking yourself, right? Those are all under the umbrella of awkwardness. So if that happens to you in a meeting, on a phone call, with your kids, it can happen anywhere. Do you go quiet? Do you close In? Some people with awkwardness, they close in on themselves. They hide, they shut down, they stop talking, they stop sharing, they speak in shorter sentences if you're a close in or if you shut down, it means all you wanna do is be alone. You wanna get away from the social interaction as quickly as possible and you have a really hard time sharing your ideas, sharing anything, right? You shut down. Other people and their awkwardness and this is what is gonna surprise a lot of leaders I think. Other people, they rise up not in a good way necessarily. They get louder, they show off, they name drop, they become dramatic, they interrupt people, they double down on their opinion, even if they don't think it's right. So awkwardness can also make you more judgmental. It can make you more mean. It can make you narcissistic. I think it's really important to understand your tendency because neither of those are right or wrong or better or worse. But it's very important to know that when you're feeling, wow, I was not humble today. I think I interrupted someone in that meeting. You know, I am being really judgmental, or I was gossiping today and I don't know what came over me. It was probably your awkwardness, right? It actually came from a much deeper place and so it helps you diagnose when you can go into those areas so you can stop it at the source as opposed to going into those two reactions.
— So good, so a question from me. Whenever I was around my boss years ago, and I worked for somebody, I always felt nervous and he was super likable, but just his authority made me nervous. When I've found out kind of now, when I walk up to people sometimes that work here, they get nervous around me and the conversations get awkward. I went up to five people yesterday in the kitchen. I didn't know them. We have a big staff, didn't know them well, but I stopped and I asked them, "Hey, can you guys tell me something that you're thankful for right now"? And just big smile. And the first person just said, "I'm blank, I'm blank. I'm so nervous". And I tried so hard Vanessa, I said, "Hey, don't think of this as like, Boss Craig". I'm just like, I just wanna hear something good. Tell me something good. And before long it went there. But what advice would you give to us if we create awkwardness? What am I doing wrong? What can we do better?
— Okay, so this is true. I'm even a little intimidated around you, Craig, and especially like, you know, we're walking around GLS and I'm always like, I wanna be ready to talk to you. I know that sounds crazy and you're so easy, but it's true. Your charisma is so powerful that I think it draws blanks. It can cause you draw blanks. So if you know this is you, so if you're listening and you're like, people have told me you're intimidating, people have told me, oh, I get, I freeze up when I'm around you, people tell you that you're hard to talk to you might fall into this category of charisma. What's really important is that you share first. So you asked a beautiful question, the most beautiful question, let's be honest, right? What are you grateful for? That is a question that's so important and so amazing that people wanna answer it, right? And also it takes us out of our every day, it takes us out of our task. It took them totally into their more spiritual, heart centered place. So what I would say is, "Hey, I would love to just have a gratitude moment with y'all and ask you what you feel grateful about for me", and give them like a longer answer just to let people begin to think about their answer. 'Cause in that way you're infecting them with positivity. So you're talking about your gratitude, you're also giving people time. So one, answer first and answer a little longer than you might normally do. If you work with introverts, this is so important we have to respect and honor our introverts. Our introverts are wired differently. They literally have different chemical responses to social interactions. So if you are a boss or a manager and you have an introvert on your team, you have to honor how they communicate. If you have a deep question or an icebreaker or a brainstorm session, send them what you're gonna talk about in writing first. And I know this is a lot of work for a leader, we're busy, but if you know that you're gonna have an icebreaker at your team meeting on Friday, tell them what it's going to be on Tuesday or have the same icebreaker so we have a lot of introverts on our team, obviously Science of People we attract fellow recovering awkward people, which I love. And so we have the same icebreaker at the start of every meeting. It's, tell me something good because of what I learned in the pandemic was when we didn't start with that icebreaker, it always started on a low. It's like the whole team would log in and be like, oh, I'm burnt out and those numbers. And so I said, "Okay guys, we're changing this up. I want the very first thing we all talk about is tell me something good," that allows my introverts in the team, my employees have told me all week they save their good thing, all week, they save their good thing. And that morning we have our calls at 10 o'clock on Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, if they don't have something good, they go find something good. I'm like, what a great way to influence, right?
— That's so smart.
— So think about is there a tradition you can set up or warning them to open up and that helps people feel like they don't have to think about in the moment or draw a blank.
— Yeah, well that's super helpful to me because I do know that about introverts, but it's not always the front of my mind. For example, I'll do like, you do a lot of talks, I'll go over my talks with people before I give it. So I get what I call pre feedback instead of waiting until later on. I get it ahead of time. And my introverts in the room, they won't say much, they'll go back and three hours later I'll get an email from them with a lot of really deep insight. They can't process in the moment, but they do come back and so I like that. And I also like that you complimented my question because I heard one of the only two time returning speakers at the Global Leadership Summit that was you back to back years, which is a really rare feat at the biggest leadership stage in the world. And this last year you gave a talk about the importance of the type of questions you asked, which convicted me. Can you give us a little insight? What's the difference between a good question and a bad question when we're interacting with people professionally?
— Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for that comment. It was such an honor to come back 'cause I got to go deeper with this talk. My second, you know, my first talk I wanted to share as much as I could, but my second talk, I had a little bit of space to be even more vulnerable and go deep. So thank you for that space. It was such a wonderful experience. And I got to talk about this science which lead me these questions, which is that when we're connecting with people, we have to pass through three levels of connection. First, just who we are, our general traits, what do you do, where you're from? How many kids do you have? Second, personal concerns, what people worry about, what motivates them, their values, and lastly, their self narrative, the story they tell themselves about themselves. So actually good questions have to be timed right. If you don't know someone well, you're only in level one with them. You know how many kids they have, maybe they play some sports on the weekend. You don't wanna jump to level three because that's when you draw a blank, right? So if I were to walk into a room and ask one of my newer employees who I don't know very well, so what's your greatest fear, right? That is a great question. But I promise you they're gonna draw a blank or cry. And that's not good leadership, right?
— Their greatest fear is that they're gonna ask them what their greatest fear is before they're ready.
— Right, by the way, I actually wanna take it back. I don't think that's a great question, if you're thinking about questions as a leader. You know why people chicken out on that question? I notice that if I ask that question, people will go, oh, spiders, snakes, that's not a real answer, right? Like, our deepest fear is usually something internal. So I actually try not to ask that question, but it's too deep, it's too much. So timing is really important. If you're trying to get to know someone, what you wanna just know about them is what motivates them. So things like, have you been reading anything interesting recently? Or have you had any great Bible passages that you've read recently? Or are you looking forward to anything coming up this summer, this weekend, this holiday, this? Those are casual questions, but they're better than, how are you, they're better than how's the family. Now what if you know someone kind of well, you've been working with them for a couple years, or their friends, or you wanna get to them a little bit better, but you know, already know the basics, that's when you wanna dive into questions that unlock their personality. So here's some of my favorite questions. What forces shaped your personality? That's one of my favorite questions, especially for like a long dinner or a long car ride. Because you're gonna start to tap into what do they believe has shaped themselves? I asked this of my colleagues, I asked this of my team members, of my friends. And I am always shocked at what people think has shaped them. That is a key. It's an answer key. If you wanna shape them, you should know what's shaped them in the past.
— I like that a lot. I lead a church with a lot of pastors and people that interact with people. Your talk took me to so many different levels of understanding of the why behind this is important. And what I always called it, I called it the third question, which was just something I made up. The first two are usually obvious, what do you do, where are you from, that kind of thing. And the, I always said, ask one more that is in and like how you call it level three, that is, the something deeper. And I've been trying to figure out a way to ask this question and maybe you can help me, but one of the things I love to hear is the thing behind your success and so I kinda like the way you ask it, what forces have created who you are. But I always like to, what I like to do is when, especially when you're around people that you know, have something special and almost everybody has something special, there's something behind that, something and so that's, I kind of been trying to figure out a way for years to ask it in a real clear way. But, and so I'm gonna ask you my own version of it, but what is it that helped create your curiosity and ability to curate information and present it in a way that helps people like me gain influence one interaction at a time. What is the thing behind your success that drove you to create content that helps change so many people's lives?
— Hmm. Okay, before I answer that question, I'm gonna procrastinate by answering your first question 'cause I don't, it's such a good question. I don't know the answer right away, but I love success questions. Here's a couple ways of asking this I think, and I love this kind of thing too, especially with people who have something magical or special or they've achieved something, I will often ask like, did you have a tipping point in your career or your life. Tipping points are really interesting. I don't know if you ever done this exercise with people, but I highly recommend if you have like a team retreat, you have people do plot their lifeline and you have them break their life up into chapters. It's a beautiful exercise because you can ask in that, what was the tipping point in your life. Usually you don't wanna ask them what was the highlight of your life, 'cause then they'll say something obvious like my wedding day or the day my kids were born and that's for trying to get deeper than that. So if you ask someone, do you have a tipping point or a changing point or an inflection point or sliding doors moment, that can be a really interesting one for someone to say, oh, the moment I realized X. For me, I think I did have a tipping point moment which changed the way I think about things, which is actually just my biggest failure. It was the most humbling experience. I shared a little bit about it on stage, which is that I got a book deal in 2010, wrote a book, thought it would change my life, was so excited, it was with a big publisher and it came out and totally failed, totally failed. No one bought it. And it was so humbling because one, I thought I knew what my purpose was and it didn't work, it did not resonate. And second, it made me start from scratch. And I realized, you know, if you look at some of the beautiful writings of Viktor Frankl, a "Man's Search for Meaning," I didn't have enough meaning in my life. I think I was writing, yes I was writing, but it didn't mean much to me. And so here I was like humbled, started from scratch, told I was never write again, would never write again, I should quit what I was doing and go back to school or go get a job somewhere else. And I was like, what's the one thing I need, is I need meaning. I need to do something that has meaning. And so every piece of content from that point on, from I think it was my book came out in August of 2011. It took at me about a year to write it from September 1st on September 1st, 2011 on it was if this piece of content does not help someone, make someone laugh or give them an aha moment, it doesn't get posted. If this video, if this blog, if this speech does not have some kind of meaning in it, I'm not doing it. And that's I think been such a amazing rule for myself 'cause it's helped keep me, keep me on point.
— So I, in my observation of you, and we're what I call newer friends, meaning we've had, you know, multiple interactions, but we don't know each other well. I've got a ton of respect for you and based on what I know about you, it seems like something that sets you apart from other leaders, to be a leader you generally have to have some level of confidence in something about you. And many leaders start with the I, I am good at this, I'm passionate about this. You seem to be, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be great because you start with the you, it seems like everything that you do is considering someone else first. Is that accurate, and if so, can you unpack it for me?
— So true. Because the I statements actually trigger my imposter syndrome. So when I'm backstage and I am so nervous about to hit the stage, if I go into I, if I think I'm really good at reading studies, I'm really good on stage. I don't feel good on stage. I don't feel like I'm that good of a writer. I don't feel like I'm that good at much. And so my imposter syndrome starts to trigger and I don't wanna get on stage. But if I say to myself, and this is literally what I say to myself backstage, this content helps people. I know I have gotten emails and calls and people tearfully walking up to me saying that speech changed my life. If I think about them, I'm like, I know this content can change people. I know it can help people. That is the only thing that can get me out onto stage. So that's how I conquer my imposter syndrome is remembering all the, if you're listening, if you ever, you know sent me a nice email or even give me a, like a nice comment, those are what actually get me to post and do more.
— Well it works. And one of the things that you say in your writing, you say speak in a way that people will listen. And what advice do you have? What can I do better? What can we as leaders do better to speak in a way that does our incredibility value people? What does that mean? Speak in a way that people will listen.
— I wanna get really tactical on this question. So we could get really broad and talk about being authentic and being strong and those are all important things. But actually there's a tactic that I use in my teaching and my speaking and leading my team, which is a very simple concept, which is the difference between a vitamin and a painkiller. If you wanna speak to people, listen, you have to speak in a way that makes them feel like they need something. The metaphor that I think about constantly is, is it a vitamin or a painkiller? What I mean by that is a vitamin is something that's good for you. So, you know, we take vitamins 'cause we think we should, you know, it's for a future health benefit. We don't ever feel like I need my vitamin today. It's absolutely preventative. And so often we forget to take them, right? We skip a morning if we're really busy, we don't notice if we've missed them. Vitamin content, vitamin inspiration, vitamin influence it's again, it's kind of missed. It makes people kind of tune out. That's when they check their emails. And so if you have vitamin presentations or speeches or updates or zoom calls or things in your business, it's just not as sticky. Instead, I want you to think about what's the pain killer? A pain killer, if you have a headache, you don't have to be reminded or advertised to that you need a painkiller. You go searching for the painkiller, right? You go asking, do you have a Advil? Do you have an Advil? You go looking for your closet, you go looking through your drawers. You want that painkiller because you already have the problem and you were searching for a solution. So as a leader, if you wanna get people to listen, you have to think what is the painkiller that someone is searching for? What kind of pain are they in spiritually, emotionally, professionally? And how can I provide the painkiller for them? That's when you have people who are listening on the edge of their seats. That's when you have people who seek you out because you're answering their painkiller problem. And so I think about this when I'm structuring my agendas for my team calls, right? And by the way, of course sometimes I have vitamins and I say, everyone this is a vitamin, right? We're gonna do a little vitamin first, but don't worry, I have a painkiller at the end of the meeting. I did in my presentations, my social media so if you can start to think about where are your vitamins and where your painkillers, it's so powerful psychologically for the people you're trying to help.
— That really is. And that also goes back to kind of what you said about the relief and so what you're doing is you're not coming into meetings or presentations just with an agenda, but you're coming in with a heart to understand where your people are, what they need, what will help them to feel valued, loved, cared for, heard. And then you could be on the same page and do a lot together.
— And you don't have to know the painkiller, right? Like I have years in my business, I call them heads down years or heads up years or heads down months or heads up months. So a heads down month means I'm working in the business, I'm building curriculum, I'm fixing things, I'm doing research, I'm not doing a lot of interviews or podcasts. And then I have heads up months where I'm teaching whatever I just learned. So if you don't know the answer to the question, what's your people's painkiller, go in a heads down mode of asking questions where all you're doing is getting on stage and asking, walking to meetings and asking. You know, you can ask too. People will tell you, believe me, people know what pain they're in. They know.
— Let's talk a little bit more about that, Vanessa. It seems to me, you know, I talked to a lot of leaders like you do, it seems like more of them right now in this current season would probably say it's kind of a heads down. Not even like just working on things but more, I think there are more leaders that feel a little bit discouraged, a little bit confused. They're trying to find what is the painkiller even trying to accurately diagnose the pain. I think so many people right now are hurting in so many different ways that they don't, like I talked to two different leaders who had employees leave and both of them said their employees said we're leaving, but we're not even sure why. Like, they couldn't even put words to the emotions they were feeling. And my theory is they're hurting in so many areas of their life that work is one of the few places they can control and so they think a change there might help when it sometimes doesn't. Can you give us some advice that when we are talking to people that are hurting, what kind of questions do we ask? How do we accurately diagnose it? I feel like sometimes we're trying to bring answers that are answers but to the wrong questions or the wrong problems. What do we do to accurately diagnose the state of our team members that we love?
— Yes okay. So first, for anyone who's important to you on your team, of course everyone's important, but people that you can really actively help, you should know what's a really good day for them at work and what's a really bad day for them at work. And that's a very safe question, but can tell you so much. So a great way to start a meeting or performance review or a check-in is, hey, what's your best day at work? The day where you go home and you are so jazzed and you were so filled, what is it? When was the last time you had one? Now hopefully they'll be able to answer that question. If they can't, then very quickly go to the next one, which is what's the days that you come home and either you dread the day before it even happens, or you come home and you're drained and you're questioning everything. What happens on those days and when was the last time you had one? Those two questions are so powerful because you're looking at the spectrum of their work life, their best day and their worst day. And you know exactly how to hit either end of the spectrum. I, by the way this is a great question for your partner too. You know, like asking your partner, what's your best day? What's the day that you just love? Is it a family day? Is it a home day? Is it a vacation day? What's your worst day, right? Like those, the ends of those spectrums we should know. And the second kind of way that you can go about this is also what do you worry about? What do you dread? What keeps you up at night? That's like the next sort of existential question. So a good day, bad day, you're gonna get answers about a lot of logistics, right? Someone might say, "Oh, I hate the billing month. I hate when we have to do our all day whatevers". And that's good to know, the next deeper level, the level three is, what keeps you up at night? What worries you most? What do you dread when you see it on your calendar or you get an email in your inbox? And that's when you can get into diagnosing some of the deeper things.
— See that's interesting to me, Vanessa, 'cause I think I'm thinking too shallow sometimes. Some of the questions I'll ask would be like, I'll ask it in a couple of ways. Sometimes they'll say, what is it that other people would want me to know that I don't know? And I've found that sometimes it's easier for them to tell me what they want me to know if I say other people, right? Or I'll say, you know, if there's something that you could suggest to make this place better, what is it? But those are still, those are tactical and you're getting a little bit deeper than that. And so I think that that's helpful to me. And I want people who are listening right now to ask yourself, how deep are you getting in the questions? Because if you can get down to the, I'm always a afraid, I'm trying to make diagnosis based on the symptoms and I'm missing the root. And I'm always trying to get down to the roots so that, I think those questions and I took, I'm taking notes, I hope I'm not obsessing too much, but I think that some of the words, like the words tipping point, that stands out, and you use the word what forces and I think that really getting into wordsmithing the words that give people freedom to express their emotions, it's so valuable. And what's so sad is I think that most leaders genuinely care, but many team members don't feel it. And what we have to do is we have to learn how to get into the place where we let them feel it. And I think that's why you're helping.
— And intention is really important here too. Like if you open, how you open these meetings, these conversations is just as important as the questions you ask. So saying, "I'm trying to level up my leadership, I'm trying to understand deeper root meanings of what's happening for you, not just logistics and problems. I have been asking these or we've been talking about this and I listened to this amazing podcast with Craig and Vanessa and they brought up some questions. Can we talk about them? Can I try some new questions with you"?
— Yes, yes and how we ask the questions matter so much. So I did a meeting the other day, we had like 40 new staff members in, once a quarter we meet with them. And so I have a 30 minute Q and A session. The very first question was a great question, but I didn't like the way it was framed. It was a young female leader who said, ministry's hard, a lot of work, we know that and she said, how do we avoid burnout? And I said that I think that's a really, really important subject, but the way I want to ask it is not leading with a negative. And I think I'm afraid Vanessa, that in many places I'm going now we're leading with a negative.
— The way I'd like to ask it is, how do we reach a lot of people do great ministry and be healthy in the meantime? It's the same topic but I really think that in our culture today, we need to lead with questions that point. And here's another question someone had was a lot of our teams are mentally struggling with mental health. What do we do about it? I think a better way to say it is, how do we pursue mental health in a very unhealthy culture? It's the pursuit of a goal, not a focus on the negative. So I don't know, I'm maybe obsessing too much about it, but I really think those, the tone of the questions we ask shapes the way our organizations go and think.
— Oh yes, and there's science on this. So the kinds of words we use change our answers. You know, I actually don't even believe I shared this on stage. It's one of my favorite studies, very simple. They brought people into their lab and they split them up to two different groups. One group was told to play the community game, they said you're gonna play the community game, here's how you play it, play. And they played a kind of prisoner's dilemma kind of game. The next group brought into the same lab, same researchers, same game, but they were told, you're gonna play the Wall Street game. Same rules, same game. People who were told they were playing the Wall Street game shared 1/3 of their profits. People who told they were playing the community game shared 2/3 of their profits. This is an incredible experiment. It was one word change. So the framing of your questions, the framing of your intros literally changes the way people behave. It changes the way they collaborate. So if we come at our questions and our framing from with community and openness and resilience and relief, we are literally infecting people and activating that part of their brain to feel more relief.
— I wish we could talk about this for hours. This applies to, like you said to in marriage relationships, in parenting, the questions that we ask our kids I mean, I'd love to go into, you know what I've learned raising six of them. I'm even tempted to even try. But I'm gonna stay with you on it. But these are, this is so, so, so important. And just I'll give a just a little commercial to everybody listening. Get Vanessa's books, dive in, watch her videos. I promise you they're so, so helpful. I want to, I cannot have you on here without going to body language. You're like an expert on body language, both in the science and the understanding and then just if you're watching, I feel it pretty embarrassed because I'm supposed to be a communicator. My hands are out on my side, I'm doing nothing and you're like, you are going to town. I'd love to know, based on the science and what you discovered, let's assume this Vanessa, it's a leader's first day. So they just got hired onto a team. They got their very first meeting, their first presentation, they're gonna make a first impression. They're walking into the room, what do they do? What do they say? Where do they sit? How do they interact? Give us some advice.
— Okay, so hands first. You mentioned hand gestures. This is a weird one. Most people think about eye contact first, and I love eye contact but actually the very first thing we look at, we look at eye tracking studies, is we look at people's hands. This is actually left over from our caveman days. Back in caveman days, if we were approached by someone or someone walks into a room, the very first thing we looked at was their hands to see if they were carrying a rock or a spear or some kind of a weapon. This still remains in our habit. And also now we're looking for hands to show intention. Are they gonna wave? Are they gonna acknowledge us? Are we gonna handshake? Are we gonna high five? Are we gonna hug? Are they gonna hand me something? So we're very aware of gestures. And so the moment you hop on video, good morning with a little wave, "Hey everyone, good to see you". It literally deactivates the amygdala where we process fear. When you walk into a room, give a little wave around the table. "Hey everyone, good to see you, so happy to be here". So hands first out of pockets, Eye ideally visible and greeting and not hiding behind a computer or a briefcase or a laptop, right hidden. So hands first, super easy. The second thing is we wanna be broad. And I don't mean we should walk into our, you know, our rooms like rocky, right? With huge, broad posture. But the mistake that a lot of people make, especially on video, is they creep their shoulders up to their ears and they sink their head down and they go, "Hey, good to see you". And they have no space here. We know as humans that when there's not a lot of distance, this is a weird measurement, but this is the measurement that matters for your perceived confidence. The distance between your ear lobe and your shoulder, the bigger that distance is, the more someone goes, "Oh, she or he looks really relaxed," and that is more contagious. So when you walk into a room or hop on video, I want you to in a way, pretend like you're wearing a cape, right? Like shoulders down and back, head held up high. Don't crinkle your shoulders up. Don't carry a book in front of you really closely. That little tiny measurement actually really matters for perceived confidence. Oh my gosh, there's so many but those are the first two easiest ones.
— So I love that and I'm gonna set this up, like you said to sometimes you need to give a little longer example to give you time to think. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna give, I'm gonna ask you to give me feedback.
— Oh, okay.
— And either help coach me on a presentation or on an interaction. So I'm gonna give you a moment to get there, and you can be thinking while I'm saying something and I really value it, meaning I care so much and I know sometimes in the past I used to, there'd be a lot of people maybe wanna talk to me somewhere and I wouldn't give someone my full attention. And it wasn't that my heart wasn't there, but I learned I wasn't doing a good job at that. And so someone helped me to recognize that. And now I'm much better than I was before because of good feedback. So I'm telling you that to tell you I actually want it,
— In the presentation, you've seen me do or in interactions, how could I get better?
— Well, really simply is I would be careful what you hold. And I know this is sounds really odd, but you don't use as many hand gestures as I do, right? That's, I don't mean to be as handsy as I am, right? I'm like, I'm very all over the place. But I, if you're holding a microphone, if you're holding a clicker, if you're holding a Bible, if you're holding something on stage, it already takes down the amount of gestures I want you to do, right? So I want your hands to be as free as possible gesture. And if you are holding anything, and I've seen you on stage a couple of different times, I notice the, even the natural gesturing goes down. So I would try wherever you possibly can if you have to hold the clicker, that's fine, but have a little table next to you where you can put it down. So for your most important points, you're using more gestures. When you're not holding anything, your gestures are amazing. When you're holding something, I think it anchors you, right? It anchors you to that mic or that object. And so I want your gestures as free as possible because it helps with comprehension. You are often dropping truth bombs. You know, you're on stage and you're sharing point after point after point and people are like, oh yeah, and that and that and that. We need gestures for comprehension. Research has found that gestures help aid the audience in understanding and breaking down points. So if you are only verbally delivering, it's so much load for the listener that they almost wanna see, like this is point one now we're talking about with point two, three, we're talking about phase one, phase two, phase three. That helps your listeners actually track all the different things that you're giving them.
— That's super helpful. And a lot of people feel very nervous communicating, presentation, whatever. What do you say to yourself? Like, you get alluded to a little bit of it. Like this is valuable. This content's helped people. Let's say there's a newer leader that doesn't have a lot of data to prove that their content helps people. And so they're a little insecure going into it. They've watched your stuff, they kind of understand eye contact, they understand hand movements, they've researched their subject, they're coming thoroughly prepared, and yet they're still a little bit unsure of themselves. What would you say to internally to help them step up with real confidence to connect with people and engage them towards something that matters?
— So it's a weird advice. So you can go the affirmation route. Those never really worked for me. Some people, they swear by affirmations. I don't know why I cannot get myself pumped up in affirmations. So instead I'm gonna give very weird advice, which is use blueprints. The only way, especially in the beginning or when I'm not sure if a content's gonna resonate, like for example, I give new presentations about once every year or two years with new content. Whew, I do not know if they're gonna work. I do not, they're not proven. So what I do is I blueprint out exactly what I wanna do. So I'm more focused on the blueprint and less focused on whatever chatter is going on in my head. So what I mean by this is, okay, what exactly are you gonna do in the first 10 seconds, non verbally of your presentation? So non verbally scripted, okay I'm gonna walk out on stage, I'm gonna go to that point right there on the stage, that little dot, okay? Then I'm gonna use two hand gestures. I'm gonna say, good morning everyone, I'm so happy to be here and I'm gonna touch my heart and then I'm gonna smile because I have a great story that I love, like that focusing on the points can help you get out of your emotional head and focus on doing the very practical things. It's also when I'm in a new presentation and I'm super nervous, I don't know if it's gonna work, I even script out where I'm gonna deliver on stage, right? Like, I'll look and say, okay, when I tell the story, I'm gonna walk over to left, I'm gonna deliver to this side, I'm gonna deliver to this side of the audience, okay? Then when I'm transitioning, I'm gonna walk over to this side and I'm gonna deliver to this side. That gets me out of my head because I'm, all I'm thinking about is my cues. I'm like, what are my cues, what are my cues? Like you have 96 to choose from the book. That gives you a map so that you're less focused on doubting yourself.
— Okay, so I love every bit of that. I almost was gonna ask you to repeat the whole, the first go. Would you repeat the first three things? The hand gesture, the heart?
— Tell me again.
— Yeah, so like, this is for my Ted talk. This is, I had to do this. Yeah, I was so nervous. So, okay, I'm gonna walk out, I'm gonna hit that dot on stage. So I want you to know exactly where you're gonna deliver. I also want you to remind yourself how fast are you walking? Are you a runner? Are you gonna dance out? Are you gonna slow walk out? Then you're gonna open palm. Oh, I'm so happy to be here. Then you're gonna touch your heart. I've been looking forward to this, I'm so honored. And then I'm gonna smile because I have a really good story.
— That's what I was looking for. So open hands, touch your heart. You know, if people are listening, they're not seeing, I'm watching and I'm actually going, I wanna listen to this person.
— Right, it works.
— Open hands, touch heart, and then a big, a big smile. So I agree with you and I wanna push back and I'm gonna say, but Vanessa, that's so dang planned and scripted, it doesn't feel authentic to me. And yet you feel authentic to me. How do you do that?
— Okay, actually what can happen when you're really nervous is your nerves get rid of your authenticity. 'Cause all you're doing is focus on the nerves. I see this with really smart people, really, even presenters who have over rehearsed. I see this with a lot of new leaders. So a lot of new leaders, they don't have that proof yet, they don't have that confidence naturally. So they rehearse and rehearse, rehearse and rehearse, rehearse. And so they get on stage. So they're passionate, but they get on stage and they rehearse it so much they sound like this. Good morning today I wanna share a story that really matters to me and it's gonna have a lot of impact in your life, because they've rehearsed out all of the emotion, all of the passion. So actually adding the cues back is gonna help you look authentic because probably your nerves are shutting down some of the authenticity and that allows you to bring it back. Because I promise you that if you weren't nervous, you would be using gestures, you would be smiling. But we have to combat what those nerves do, which is strip us of our charisma.
— Well, I wanna just tell you thank you because in our interactions, every talk I've heard you give at the Global Leadership Summit on the big stage and then in other events it's been super, super helpful. My wife would rather listen to you talk any day than me. She's like, she's a big, big fan.
— I love her.
— And we love celebrating just the blessings of your little girl that's on the way soon and it's really, really exciting. And there'll be some people in our leadership community that are just now getting to know you. If they wanna learn more, what do you have to offer that can help them to continue to grow?
— I would love and be honored to help you if you want to really dive into communication, interpersonal skills. You can find me at scienceofpeople.com. Obviously my books Cues and Captivate are good starting place. If you wanna get master level, we recommend a lot of our leaders to take people school. It's the only advanced communication course for high achievers. So we really focus on leaders. It's all online, it's 12 skills, the 12 science-based skills I wish I had learned to communicate better. And we have live office hours, I answer questions, we workshop your elevator pitches, we workshop your LinkedIn profiles. It's really fun. So if you wanna take that next step, I would love to have you.
— Love it. So gimme one more piece of advice and then we're gonna close this out together. So what I typically do at the end is I will tell people, I'll remind them to get the leader guide and the reason is because there really is, our team works really hard to put a lot of valuable content and then this gives them a framework to discuss with their team. And then I'll tell 'em to go to, I'm actually doing it right now. So just and I'll tell 'em to go to life.church/leadershippodcast to get the leader guide and then I will invite them to share on social media and I'll tell 'em to tag you, tag me. And then I always sign off with a little, I'll usually say something like, be yourself. Remember to be yourself because people rather follow leader always real than over one who is always right. Or I'll say work on your leadership. Let's grow on your leadership because everyone wins when the leader gets better. What do I need to do today? Let's close it out better. Do I need hand gestures? Do I need something different? Help me make it better.
— Remember, you're a force for good in every interaction you have.
— So today I'm gonna say thank you Vanessa, for being a big part. If this podcast is helpful to you, share it with other people and remember, how does it go? You're a force for good.
— In every interaction you have.
— In every interaction you have. So walk into a room if the mood is down, lift the mood with a genuine care for people. Remember that you're a leader, you have influence. You can make a difference in this world. You can bring great people together to do great things, to honor God, to make organizations better, to make a difference in people's lives. Remember, you're a force for good in every interaction you have. Now go out and do what great leaders do. Is that better?
— I love it. It's perfect, I love it
— Thank you so much and be sure and follow up. Get all you can for Vanessa and we see you next time on the Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast.
— Bye everyone.