Use the Force, Nod Your Head
We’ve got another tip for mastering the art of remote communications this week, and if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re in luck.
This article is part of a multi-part series on the psychology of remote communications, as many/most of us are still working remotely. I want to reiterate that we have established a baseline over the last couple years (albeit anecdotal) that tells us these tips have helped a lot of our customers and friends. And what’s more, many of our more recent product innovations are enabling these tips to be used with much greater ease.
This Week’s Tip: Use the Force. Nod Your Head.
You remember the scene in the original Star Wars movie where Obi-Wan Kenobi tells those storm troopers, “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for”? This is a classic example of a jedi mind trick where, through a series of physical gestures, the mind of a subject is briefly controlled. In the movie, we’re told that you must use the force to do this.
For us non-jedis working from home on video conferences, nodding your head up and down (showing approval) is in effect telling others and yourself that you have confidence in your own thoughts — whether those thoughts are positive or negative. The evidence for this can be found in research done at Ohio State. In a sense, nodding or shaking your head as well as other body movements act as a kind of “self-validation” that confirms to us and others how we feel about our own thoughts. An important caveat here is that nodding your head side to side (showing disapproval) can, not surprisingly, have the opposite negative effect.
Know more: How to send encrypted email?
Wait, So I Can Control Other People’s Minds Simply by Shaking My Head Up and Down?
No, it’s not really like what happens in Star Wars, and that’s a good thing — although some people can be very persuasive using physical cues. What is happening is more about instilling a feeling of “contagious confidence” in what you’re saying. It’s not like nodding your head will get your boss to immediately give you that promotion.
The scientific phenomenon here is called “isopraxism” (iso being Greek for “same” and praxism meaning “behavior”) or otherwise known as “mirroring”. This is behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another.
In a video conference situation, your positive head nodding when you speak can make another person in the meeting mirror your positive head nodding which can instill agreement and generally positive feelings in both people. Note that this should be done in a subtle way (like Obi Wan), as doing this nodding too obviously will then just look strange and off-putting.
And, particularly powerful in video meetings where everyone can see all of the heads in a tile view, when your teammate is presenting, your nod as part of the audience will help instill confidence in your overall team message in the minds of the audience.
How Can RPost Help Me With this Isopraxism Thing?
While we have yet to invent a technology to directly help people gain consensus on videoconferences, RSign is the most effective, efficient, and affordable way of gaining agreement via electronic signature. RSign’s ease of use and ability to streamline workflows instills what we like to call “sender and signer bliss” — it’s the software version of the up-and-down head nod.
Learn more: Mastering the Art of Remote Communications