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Life Health > Running Your Business

Keep unconscious bad habits in check

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As people who make decisions, we have to rely on competent outside resources to help us come to important decisions. The issues for which we need such services represent areas of life where we don’t want to have to be “as good” as someone who provides that service for a living.

Since most people can’t – or don’t want to – know as much as the person providing the service, they have to develop some confidence or trust that the service provider has their best interest in mind.

The way the mind functions is on two levels. The conscious mind takes in the message being presented by the person speaking to us and looks to make sense of it. The unconscious mind is busy looking for inconsistencies, incongruities or misalignment in order to determine if something is wrong.

Imagine you are meeting with two people who are presenting to you. When one person is speaking, his partner is basically looking bored and unconcerned about what his colleague is saying, leaving you uneasy.

Or, someone is telling you how much he loves his job or his products and services, while unconsciously his head is wagging a big, fat “no.” Your reaction will be much more influenced by your unconscious read of the situation over the conscious information being presented.

When we find ourselves engaged in the process of selling, our mind is totally engrossed in “what do I say?” All of our mental conscious energy is wrapped up in figuring out how to sound intelligent or how to appear as if we are listening. We have no idea that unconscious habits such as tapping our feet or clicking a pen is revealing more about us than fancy visual aids and the great features of our offerings.

As a general rule, I suggest a salesperson never has anything in his hands when he is communicating unless it is absolutely necessary. It is too easy for your unconscious mind in a moment of distraction to send out unintended messages that can contradict your intended communication.

What can we do to minimize unconscious noise – playing with our pen, our hair or tapping our feet? The most powerful thing we can do is allow ourselves to unconsciously match the other person – to align our unconscious communication channel with his.

This can occur at many levels, such as speaking at a similar rate of speech, volume or inflection as the other person does. It is quite natural to pick up the speaking patterns and language of people around you without even knowing you are doing it. It can also be felt physically when you sit in a similar fashion to the person you are meeting with.

When someone speaks or moves at a similar rate to me, I just feel comfortable. Just as I feel uncomfortable if I am with someone who is walking or eating faster than I am. Or when we are meeting or speaking with someone who tends to stand too close for comfort.

In order for me to hear your conscious message, I am going to check you out unconsciously. The more your behaviors are unconsciously similar to mine, the more I feel a sense of symmetry. This leads to a sense of likeness, which is the basis of rapport, which is the foundation of trust.

Don’t miss Sarano Kelley’s keynote presentation at Senior Market Advisor Expo Aug. 22-24 in Las Vegas. For more information visit


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