By Jane Benson, NSRDEC Public AffairsApril 2, 2018
NATICK, Mass. -- Your body is talking even when you are not. That was one of the main takeaways from a recent workforce presentation at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC.
NSRDEC's Cultivating Women's Leadership Group hosted Janine Driver, a body language expert who is president of the Body Language Institute and a New York Times bestselling author. Previously, Driver worked for 15 years as a federal law enforcement officer within the U.S. Department of Justice, where she trained more than 60,000 lawyers, judges and law enforcement officers how to decipher body language and detect deception.
Driver's talk, entitled "You Say More Than You Think," focused on how to use body language to better communicate and connect with others, as well as how to read another person's body language and pick up on unspoken cues.
Driver's talk at Natick is part of NSRDEC's Cultivating Women's Leadership Group's ongoing efforts to explore leadership topics and provide employees opportunities to brainstorm, network and grow personally and professionally.
The group is led by Andrea St. George, an Organization Development specialist and Leadership Development program manager at NSRDEC. The group also includes Sandra Hickey, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and security - G2, and Jennifer Rego, an NSRDEC research chemist.
"Our group was so lucky to be able to host this workshop given by Janine Driver," said St. George.
"There are so many components that contribute to one's leadership capabilities and style and body language is definitely one of them. It's important for us, as a group, to facilitate, or bring in experts who can facilitate, a very well-rounded series of events to address all different aspects of leadership development and growth. Everyone who attended had something different they learned from her workshop, and one or two small takeaways can have big impact for our workforce and how they interact with their colleagues and customers moving forward."
Driver discussed several common body language cues. For example, she explained that the use of hand gestures is linked to people perceiving you as having charisma. She also pointed out that the person who initiates the handshake is the person who is more likely to be remembered.
"Whether we like it or not we are constantly being judged by our gestures," said Driver.
She also addressed some pervasive fallacies regarding body language. For example, many people read crossed arms as bored, disinterested or defensive but crossed arms actually mean that the person is carefully taking in information and is using both the left and right side of the brain.
Although body language influences how one is perceived, word choice also plays a key role.
"Our words are equally important as our body language," said Driver.
Driver said that the most persuasive, influential word is "because" due to its link to decision making.
Members of the Cultivating Women's Leadership Group believe that communication skills are a cornerstone of sound leadership.
"The response to Janine's presentation was priceless," said Hickey. "I could see members of the audience immediately responding to what she was saying. Nontraditional training such as this can have a significant impact on how we interact with each other in the workplace, and we know that being able to communicate effectively is a critical leadership skill."
Empowering members of the workforce is also a key goal of the Cultivating Women's Leadership Group.
"I think we were very fortunate to have Janine speak to the workforce," said Rego. "I think to facilitate CWL's mission to create an environment that fosters an enthusiastic and optimistic workforce for fulfilling its potential to be self-empowered, passionate leaders at every level, it is necessary to provide opportunities for experts from various and diverse facets of leadership development to engage with the workforce. Such experts provide unique insight into individual, personal behaviors and ideas that is incredibly valuable for the self-awareness and perspective necessary to develop leadership, both professionally and personally."
The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.