I’ve been blogging recently about the relationship between words, physical actions, metaphor and influence.
One expert who really “gets” this, who I had the privilege of meeting recently, is Mark Bowden, author of Winning Body Language.
Let me share my biggest takeaway from the many useful things he taught me. It’s something I started using straight away and, based on my results, I’m not about to stop any time soon!
Mark says: “The following simple piece of body language, hundreds of thousands of years old and still applicable today, is totally overlooked in understanding by nonverbal communication “experts” and business presentation trainers around the globe. It has, however, been handed down within the community of visual communicators for centuries. Until this point, it has never been put in writing for any business audience…
“So here is that signal that instantly lets the members of an audience know that you are genuine in intention and can be trusted: Gestures on a horizontal plane extending from the navel.”
Mark calls this horizontal plane the TruthPlane and adds:
“When the hands gesture within the TruthPlane, an energized calm, confident and balanced effect is felt by both the communicator and the receiver.”
And: “Across all cultures and at all times, it is the strongest symbol for ‘You can trust me’.”
It’s a powerful insight: easy to understand, easy to use. Try it!
(I’d love to hear how it worked for you in the “comments” section below.)
Metaphor and the TruthPlane
The TruthPlane technique is useful in many ways. It’s great to have an extra way to get people to trust you – while incidentally calming any public speaking nerves.
And the TruthPlane is also an interesting example of the relationship between physical actions, metaphor and influence – without words.
- The action of gesturing in the TruthPlane influences both the actor and the audience.
- Metaphor “carries” the message, at an unconscious level.
- For the actor, the action is a metaphor for “energized calm, confident and balanced”. As they make the action, they feel the feeling.
- For the audience, the same action is a universal metaphor for ‘You can trust me’. As they see the action, they feel the feeling.
- Neither actor nor audience needs to be consciously aware of the TruthPlane gestures in order to feel the effects. It’s all happening at an unconscious level and so just works.
Advanced exercise: Mark suggests doing contrasting versions of Jamie Smart’s Pizza Walk, gesturing either in the TruthPlane or with your hands down at your sides.