Location, Location, Location, Location

“Location, location, location" is a common phrase that’s used when referring to real estate. It’s repeated three times to emphasize how important location is to the resale value of a home.

The fact that we repeat it four times when talking about communicating bad news tells you how extremely important it is in using nonverbal gestures to deliver bad news or present a controversial topic. If you want to be the messenger who DOESN’T get shot, remember…location, location, location, location.
There are four gestures of location:

* Toward yourself when speaking of positive news and gesturing
* Toward the listener—again for positive words or news
* In the immediate vicinity—a phantom location next to you, on the floor, but not on you when you are speaking of bad news and don’t want the bad news to stick to you
* Outside the immediate vicinity—a phantom location out the window or in a far corner away from you to put the bad news even further away from you and your listeners

If you’ve got bad news or something negative to say, the farther away from you or your listener that news or negative idea is, the less urgency and the less emotional impact the bad news will have. The closer to you or the listener you put bad news, the more emotional attachment and sense of urgency you create.

Did you wreck the car? Bad news! Point out the window where the bad news resides. Or point to the accident report to describe what happened, unless you want everyone to “feel your pain.”

Are sales down? Expenses up? Workforce reductions on the horizon? Point to a report, a flip chart or an object or place disassociated from you. You don’t want to be known as that person responsible for sales being down. The closer you gesture to yourself with negative news, the closer the listener associates you with the news.

Don’t let the primary place where you are standing or sitting get contaminated by the bad news. Use hand gestures to place the bad news or controversial topic at a phantom location. Assign negatives to a visual placeholder or phantom (neutral) location as often as possible, so the object or location is seen as the bearer of bad news, not you.

If you point out the window, at a flip chart, to an object or place disassociated from you while you’re delivering the negative or bad news, your listeners will believe that where you’re pointing is where the negative news is. You can assign anything to a phantom location—whether it’s concrete or abstract. Of course, if it’s good news, you’ll want to keep it close to you and your audience—with positive news, gesture to yourself or your audience.

Remember, a location within the immediate vicinity creates a sense of urgency and emotional impact more than one outside the immediate vicinity. It is much easier to decontaminate or ignore a phantom location than yourself or another person.

In Sharon Sayler’s latest book What Your Body Says (and how to master the message), you’ll learn a lot more about gestures of location as well as how to use your voice, posture and eye contact at a phantom location. You’ll find out how using phantom locations can help improve relationships and build trust.

Excerpt from What Your Body Says (and how to master the message)…

“Phantom locations are neutral spots that can be quickly created and from which you and your audience can easily be disassociated. Try to think like a mime when you’re choosing a phantom location. How does a mime make you believe he is behind a
wall? He implies that there is a wall by using exaggerated gestures. This same concept holds true here. As you begin to talk about something that does not have a visual placeholder for the listener, gesture toward a predetermined location either beside you, behind you, in a corner, or even out the window. Remember, the closer it is to you or the listener, the more emotional attachment and sense of urgency to resolve.

If you act as if a phantom object or concept were really at a given location, others will believe it is there too….

“Although listeners are not able to see an object or concept physically, such as bad news piled up in the corner, they will believe it is there if you consistently reinforce that it is. The key here is to maintain the same location and gesture for whatever you originally placed there, especially if it’s negative news.”

“Using locations lets people know what to expect. Knowing what to expect helps them feel safe.”

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Sayler, MBA, is a Communications Success Strategist who trains professionals on how to become stronger, more influential communicators and leaders. She teaches people how to communicate with confidence and clarity by matching their body language to what their mouth is saying. Sharon's new book What Your Body Says (and how to master the message) teaches business leaders and communicators how to make their body match what their mouth is saying. www.WhatYourBodySays.com

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