observant, missing opportunities, joe girardThere is no scarcity in the world we live in.

I met with a client yesterday and we were talking about body language and how to understand her customers more effectively. The challenge she found was that now, as she learns more about her selling skills, she is becoming more conscious of her actions and also of others.

This awareness has been making her more self-conscious, soon we spent some time breaking down what’s happening, why it’s good, and how to move forward. Thought I would share that with you today.

(click here to listen to this post or the play button below)


“I’m Overwhelmed.”

That’s what she shared with me yesterday about all of the work she’s doing and the personal development stuff she has been adding to the mix. There is definitely no shortage of things to do and very quickly it can all add up, right?

Especially when we work on personal development. When we turn our attention to our own thoughts, actions, and behaviors, it can get totally overwhelming. It happens to everyone.

Just know that anytime you work on personal growth, it is terrifying and oftentimes lonely. There have been many times where I felt like I was going crazy because I was doing work on myself and just felt totally isolated.

It’s normal.

If working on yourself was easy, everyone would be way more in touch with their emotions, and those of others. It’s easy to point out flaws of other people, but brutal when you turn the lens on yourself.

The trick is to simply OBSERVE yourself and resit the natural tendency to judge. 

In order to grow and evolve, you have to be willing to get uncomfortable and know that it’s tough and lonely before it gets good. Besides what are your other options? Just stay the same and complain?

Are you just saying a bunch of stuff?

As we were talking yesterday, she told me that when she is in a meeting, she has been finding herself talking too much or rambling. I struggle with this sometimes too.

It’s normal to want to share information with customers, friends, and people in general. And especially in sales, we find ourselves often in “pitch” mode. The question is, how do we break out of that.

It’s simple. Just stop.

It starts by observing yourself. When you find yourself talking too much, talking too fast, or getting off track, simple STOP. Take a breath, assess the room, and clarify where you are at with the other person. Don’t try and push through it so you can keep talking. Just reset.

I get amped up often in my meetings or sales calls and I observe that I may have been speaking without breathing for a few minutes. My reset is typically when I stop and say, “Does this make sense or am I just saying a bunch of words?” I say it in a humorous way to allow the conversation to rest – to have a chance to breathe. Also, you can ask a question of the other person to gain that clarity.

Conscious versus unconscious thought

According to psychologist, Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, our mind has two systems, which he calls systems 1 and 2. I wrote about it last week when I talked about getting into a state of flow.

Essentially, what I want to stress is that when you are in a situation and you are just going through the motions, you are only using system 1 – unconscious thought. It’s easy, free-flowing, and natural.

But when you start to observe, you engage system 2 – your conscious thought. Catching yourself in the moment talking too much is engaging system 2.

Engaging conscious thought is terrifying and often uncomfortable, but it is a major step in your personal evolution. 

When you try to be in the moment and “on” with your presentation or conversation, you don’t want to be distracted. That’s why it’s tough. Tapping into System 2 gets your mind moving faster and causes stress.

BUT, once you start engaging conscious thought more frequently, you gain superpowers.

The best part is that the more you practice this skill, the more it moves from system 2 to system 1. You begin to be in the moment as well as observe and adapt in the moment. This allows you to begin to see what’s really going on and gives you the ability to be more authentic and effective.

You can see why this is tough, right? But so worth it.

What should you observe?

As we talked more, she shared with me that she had learned a sales technique for body language called “mirroring.” I’m sure you’ve head of this before where you try and match your body language to the other person and it should create an imperceptible, subconscious connection. However, when used incorrectly, you end up looking like an idiot because the other person sees what you’re doing and it feels weird.

There are no tricks.

Learning to observe and using body language takes time and effort. Think about all the things you can observe in others:

  • facial expressions
  • posture
  • hands
  • eye movement
  • tone of voice
  • pace
  • breathing
  • attention
  • shifting
  • slight behavior changes
  • level of interest
  • feet
  • perspiration
  • and so on…

And at the same time, there are countless things you can observe about yourself:

  • all the same as above (which can start to make us self conscious)
  • our presence
  • energy
  • attention
  • listening (active vs passive)
  • caring
  • ego
  • vulnerability
  • tending to their stories
  • and so on…

No wonder we get overwhelmed!

Start with empathy

To be an effective observer of others, start by first observing yourself. Watch yourself in situations and see how you are thinking and feeling.

  • What stresses you out?
  • What excites you?
  • When you get a sales email from someone, what works on you and what doesn’t?
  • When you meet someone for the first time, how do you feel?
  • When are you nervous?
  • What is your body language when you feel pressured?
  • When you feel accepted?
  • When your phone rings, why do you answer or not answer? And for who?
  • How do you feel when you spend money?
  • When you reject someone else’s offer, what do you think about?
  • What holds you back from making decisions?
  • How overwhelmed do you feel?

Now you can see there are almost unlimited things to observe in our own behavior, so imagine that everyone around you is struggling with those same things.

If we then look at how to sell more effectively, start from a place of empathy.

Most of the time, what we do to others doesn’t help them, but rather we want something from them. We end up adding more to their plate and causing them to be overwhelmed.

When you understand this first, you will then start to see ways that you can actually alleviate the problems of those around you. And very quickly, your presence and energy changes.

By demonstrating empathy, you become a hero for your customers.

You see, even in today’s busy world, everyone has time. We all just are selective about who gets it.

When you call or email people, are you the one they absolutely love talking to? or are you a nuisance? Are you the one they look at their phone and say, “Oh no, not again?”

Starting from a place of observation and empathy will quickly show you the missed opportunities every day in front of your face. Trust me.

Now watch others

Start tapping into that system 2 in your next conversations. Here are three simple tests:

  1. Look for nods. A big one for me to know I am on point is to get people to nod. If I am working through a concept and they are nodding, I know that they are locking it into their own mental checklist. They are subconsciously agreeing.
  2. Watch the eyes. When people narrow their eyes, it means they are trying to really understand what you are saying and that it is worth paying attention to.
  3. Pay attention to the shoulders. If what your say makes sense and they feel it will solve their problem, their shoulders will slightly drop. It is a subtle sign of relief. If they don’t drop when you get to the punchline, you missed something.

Use story telling as a way to share your message and watch for these signs while you speak.

But take the lead

Rather than trying to spend all your time watching and reacting to others, start strong and present well. Because you have worked on your empathy skills, you should understand what others want from you. And you should work your butt off to get this right.

  1. Work on your pacing. The speed of your speaking should match the message. And it should not all be one speed (I am sometimes guilty of this). Go watch some TED talks and look at the pacing. Find some styles you like and test it out for yourself. You will be surprised at how well pacing works with practice. Want to make sure your point hits home? Say it slowly. Want to increase excitement? Say it quickly. Want to drive people crazy? Say everything fast or slow.
  2. Use your voice to control emotion. Like all tips like these, be careful not to go overboard. To bring the tension down, you can talk more quietly and slowly. Remember that you are always working with humans (I hope) and they respond well to voice and visual cues. So if you need others to listen, you have to speak in a way that makes them want to listen to you. Raising your voice is usually the opposite.
  3. Smile for a smile. This is probably the most effective and easiest thing to implement. Read my post on laughing to connect to see what I mean. It’s hard to smile sometimes when we start thinking about all the stuff we have covered in today’s post. To have to remember all of your info, pay attention to others, watch body language and a myriad of other things, it’s normal for our brows to furrow and to look too darn serious. I am guilty here too, especially when I speak in public. I am really happy saying happy things, and my face does not support my claims! I have to constantly tell myself to smile and have fun. Try it!
  4. Be totally 100% present. There are no shortages of distractions at every given moment. We also know what it feels like when someone is looking past us and saying, “yah yah, I’m listening…” Being present is probably the best gift you can give someone else. Your undivided attention and curiosity about them and the great conversation is all that should matter. In today’s hyper-connected, digital-centric world, we miss opportunities every day to connect with real human beings.  If you are going to speak with someone, go into it fully. If not, don’t bother doing it. When you bring the right energy, people will feel it and they will want to do business with you.
  5. Set your intentions beforehand. I can’t stress enough about how important your mindset is before every interaction. YOU control how you want to be perceived by the world. What energy do you want to give off today? What do you want to be remembered for? When you go into a meeting, how do you want to make others feel? Or…do you simply go in and wing it each time? Setting intentions will increase your chance of success in anything you do.

Now forget everything

That’s a ton of stuff to think about and remember! Now, step away from it and realize that everything is okay. There is ZERO pressure to do any of this. Do it or don’t, the world will keep on spinning. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Heck, most people pride themselves on how busy and overwhelmed they are – almost like a weird competition these days. 

Just know that everything you do is a choice. You can choose to improve and grow. And accept the terrifying and uncomfortable feelings associated with it. Or you can stay comfortable and not grow. It’s up to you.

This past year, I have really been working on my spirituality to find more peace with all that I work on. And at the end of the day, it’s about just enjoying the process.

Look around you every day. There is so much happening. Opportunities to connect with people, amazing technology, nature, you name it! Engage that system 2 to allow you to take in everything around you each day.

Like and share this post. Spread the love. And please leave comments below – tell me your observing secrets!

Joe Girard
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