The language of status, power and leadership
Growing a business is about building relationships. Knowing you need to meet new people and make new connections, how often do you find yourself in a room with strangers, many of whom already know each other? You need to quickly determine how these groups work.
Consciously or not, we humans automatically start figuring out who is in charge, who else is new, and where we fit in. We accomplish this by attending to both verbal and nonverbal cues. Successful business people are quite good at observing and, with enough experience and/or training, identifying and responding to the “high-status” people in the room. Let’s look at some of the ways they do it.
Recent research offers insights into how we know so much about each other so quickly. Judith Hall of Northeastern University has identified a small cluster of behaviors linked to status: 1. Loudness: High-status people tend to talk more loudly than lower-status people. 2. Interruptions: High-status people are more likely to interrupt others than are lower-status speakers. 3. Physical Closeness: Higher-status people tend to stand or sit more closely to others than do those relatively lower. 4. Openness: Higher-status people have a more open body orientation, meaning their arms or legs extend out more.
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