Frances Cole Jones is the author of How to Wow, The Wow Factor, and Wow Your Way Into the Job of Your Dreams. Her blog was voted one of the top 100 websites for women by Forbes. Frances appears frequently on ABC and Fox News, is a body language expert for The Insider, a business etiquette expert for Demand Media’s eHow video series, and a job interview expert for About.com.
In an exclusive webinar for LEADx subscribers, Frances Cole Jones taught the things you can do today to wow tomorrow. The following transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Frances Cole Jones: “This first statistic comes from a study that was done at UCLA. What they discovered is that if there's ever any discrepancy between the words that you're saying and what your voice is doing while you're talking or what your body's doing while you're speaking, people tend to believe what's not being said.
To the point that people only remember about 7% of what you're saying. 38% of your impact comes from your tonal quality and then 55% comes from what your body is doing while you're talking. What I'm going to talk a little bit about today is how you can make the words that you say as memorable as possible and then how you can organize your physicality and your tonality so that nothing detracts from what you're trying to get done.
Yale University did a study of the 12 most persuasive words in the English language and what they discovered is that the most persuasive word in the English language is you.
The more that you can say things like, “As I'm sure you know, as I'm sure you've heard, I want to see about talking to you today,” the better. Everyone gets up in the morning and you are the hero of your story. Then if you bump into someone who seems to feel the same way, you're like, “I really like them. I don't know why, but I do.” Beginning to frame everything in that context.
The next statistic I give people comes from a social psychologist named Ellen Langer who is at Harvard these days. What she discovered is that there's one word in the English language that increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94%, and that word is because.
I wanted to talk to you today because. Again, what happens is you get up in the morning and you're so super clear on why you needed something done that you forget to spell it out for other people. What I tell my clients is, “This works just as well in real life as it does in a business context.” If you're at the supermarket and somebody cuts the line, you're pissed about it, right? But if they turn to you and they say, “Do you mind if I cut the line because I'm late to pick up my kids at school,” you're going to let the line cut go. You'll probably still be a little bit pissed about it, but you're going to let the line cut go. You plus because.
Then the third part of this, and really this is the formula for getting people to do what you want them to do for you anytime, comes from the Duncan Hines Cake Mix marketing team. What they discovered over at Duncan Hines is that when they have you at home add the egg to the mix, you're like, “I baked,” right? “I contributed to the cake.” There's no reason for that because there is powdered egg. They have that technology. Do you know the mixes that you buy and it says, “Just add water,” and you feel sad about yourself and you're being manipulated? How does that work again in a business context?
It's figuring out in any situation what is the egg, where does what you want or need to have happen intersect with the person you're speaking with. How is it going to make their hopes and dreams come true?
You plus because plus the egg is going to get you into the mindset and into the hopes and dreams of the people what you're speaking with.
Here are some other ways to make your words as memorable as possible:
Tell stories. Studies show that people remember stories longer, they trust them more, and they repeat them more accurately.
Avoid pointless modifiers. If you're interviewing for a job and someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself,” it's one of those seemingly innocuous questions where so much can go wrong. Really the answer to tell me about yourself is, “Your job description says that you're looking for somebody who can do X. Not only can I do X, I can also do Y and I can do Z.” It keeps you away from useless modifiers like, “I'm a really great leader. I'm just an amazing leader. I really love to lead people,” and nothing is happening in the person's brain.
Use the rule of three. People can only remember three things. At point four, we stop listening. That's why it's three pigs, three bears, three musketeers, and three wishes. The genie never comes out of the lamp and gives you four because your brain shuts down. As you begin to talk to people, if you want to come up with three things they should remember about your product or about you, just make sure it's three and then don't keep talking.
As I mentioned earlier, 38% of your impact comes from your tonal quality. It's what your voice is doing while you're speaking. This is seemingly small when you meet people, and I'm sure you've had this experience: you'll go to a networking event and someone will say, “I'm really happy to meet you.” But they don't sound happy and they don't look happy, so you automatically don't really find them sincere. My request always is if you're going to be happy about anything, you really need to have a whole lot of happy happening on your face.
Sound sincere. The other place to think about this day-to-day is if you ever have to apologize for anything. You call up customer service for something because it broke and they'll say, “I'm so sorry that happened to you,” but they don’t sound sorry.
Use this disconnected tone mind trick. There are a few places this doesn't work and sometimes you’ll want to channel what I refer as your inner New York restaurant hostess. She's the one who if you get to the restaurant, she's like, “You know what? Your table's going to be another half an hour.” You're like, “All right,” because there's such a really bizarre disconnect between how happy she seems about the information that you're getting and the words that are coming out of her mouth. Again, this is kind of the last resort when you need to. One of my clients found it super useful with her teenagers because she's just saying to them, “No, you can't have the car keys. Okay, bye, bye.” They're just folding because they find it so weird that mom seems so happy, but they're not getting the car. You want to think about that with your tone.
Stand up. If you do a lot of work on conference calls or if you do telephone interviews, I always do recommend doing them standing because standing automatically gives your voice so much more energy and enthusiasm. In my dream world, if you can, you want to do them looking in the mirror because it's impossible to look at yourself in the mirror and not amuse yourself, okay? You're going to be like, “I'm so funny and I'm so interesting,” and your voice is going to follow along with all of that. All of those things come into play. Again, when people can't see you and you've lost 55% of your impact, you want to have that full toolbox of tonal possibilities.
Speak from your diaphragm. Put your hands on your abdomen and you breathe. You should be able to have your hands move when you're breathing. That means that your diaphragm is engaged, which means that your voice is down in the lowest possible register. It gives you a lot of authority when you need it.
Don’t fall into upspeak. An upspeak is, as you know, when everything sounds like a question. As you're speaking, make sure you don’t sound like you're not 100% sure about it, particularly if you're a younger person and you're attempting to seem more authoritative.
Avoid vocal fry. Don’t speak in a monotone voice. You want to vary your tonal quality as much as possible. It's what keeps people awake. If you're not sure about how that's done or even how to practice, a great and easy way to do that is if you ever have to read children's books to kids. You really get to see what happens with the tone of your voice. You really want to use that to make yourself as interesting and as memorable as possible.
55% of your impact comes from what your body is doing while you're speaking. The minute somebody says to you, “Oh, you can trust me,” you don't trust them. You immediately start thinking, “Why do they need to say that out loud?” What you're looking for are these nonverbal ways to build trust and to build camaraderie in meetings and in interviews.
Stand in neutral. This just means standing with your arms by your sides and with your weight in both feet. It's not a really normal or comfortable place for most of us to stand. But the easiest way to seem authoritative and in command of the situation is just to allow your arms to hang by your sides. Again, to keep weight in both feet. Beginning to practice that in moments that are not super high stakes because you need to get that under your belt. As I said, it's not a normal way for anybody to stand. You want to make sure that you've got it in your back pocket for when you need it.
Sit up. It’s important to think about how you’re sitting in your chair. If you're going to be in a chair, I would really want you to be sitting up in forward in the chair, not all the way on the edge of the chair, but just with the small of your back off of the back of the chair. It gives a different level of commitment and it demonstrates a different level of commitment to the people that you're talking to.
Don’t shift around. Have both of your feet flat on the floor to keep your shoulders from shifting. Sometimes if we cross our legs, then our shoulder will shift. People are kind of listening to you, but they're kind of wondering if you have scoliosis. You want to make sure that you've got that solid foundation. Just make sure that you're completely grounded and present with the back of your back off the back of the chair. I refer to it for those of you who watched Downton Abbey as the Downton Abbey dinner party posture.
Keep your hands visible. We trust you when we can see your hands and we don't trust you when we can't. If you are in meetings, I really want your hands on the table as much as possible.
Write down what people say. An easy way to build trust and camaraderie in meetings is to write down what people say. People love it when you write down what they say. It makes them feel special and important. It also helps them to relax. The easiest way to make this point is if you're at a restaurant and your waiter is not writing down your order, you are panic stricken until your food arrives.
Wear blue. Blue is the color that we trust the most and it photographs best. It’s just another easy and nonverbal way to help people trust you.
Pick three small talk topics before any important meeting or job interview. What can happen is you can go in and you're so prepared and everything seems like it's great, it's going so well and you finish up and the person you're meeting with offers to walk you to the elevator. The adrenalin's leaving your body and you're kind of relaxing. They ask you a question and you just pick a topic out of thin air. The whole thing explodes in your face. I really want you to have those things in your back pocket so that you have those ability to just say, “Oh, what are nearby restaurants that you recommend? Do you have any plans for the weekend?”
Say yes to a drink offer. Another thing that I like to recommend is if you're offered coffee or you're offered water, any of those things, just say yes, “Yes, thank you.” I don't need to get crazy. If someone says, “Do you want coffee,” you don't need to say, “I'd like a mochachocolacachino with six Splendas.” Just, “Yes, thank you.” It's a nice thing to do. And you can drink it.
Lastly, here are some negotiation tips to keep in mind:
Be super specific when negotiating. You don't want anybody guessing about whether or not you're asking for a raise, and you don't want anybody guessing about what it is that you need to have accomplished. Even though it seems really, really crazy to have to spell it out in microscopic detail, it's a smart thing to do. If you're saying to your boss, “You know, I'd really like to start talking to you about flex time,” flex time might mean something very different to your boss than it does to you. You know? Here she might think that means you want Fridays off. Instead, you want to be able to leave at 3 PM everyday. You really need to be super specific. “I want to talk to you about flex time. That looks like me arriving at 11 AM. That looks like, whatever, me taking Friday's off.”
Don’t pounce on people. You want to set up that time to talk to the person before you begin making your super clear ask. When you make that request for the time, you want to make it clear that they're not in trouble. “I want to talk to you about something that's important to me. Can you let me know when would be a good time for you?” This also forces you to get organized and come up with your clear ask.
The final thing to think about with negotiation in the time I have left is once you make your request, you need to stop talking. Because what happens a lot is we'll say, “I'm really hoping for flex time. For me what that would look like, I would come in at 11:00 and I would leave at 3:00 and I wouldn't take lunch. I mean I understand that that's really hard for you, so if you don't want to do that …” No. Don't start doing other people's negotiating for them. Make your request and then stop talking.”