The Use of Body Language in Customer Advisory Boards

There are all kinds of unspoken conversations going on when we meet in person at a live consultancy meeting with our advisors. Not only are we listening to the words that people are speaking, but we are also interpreting their tone and the gestures they are using. Ultimately, we are filtering the meaning of what they are saying through their body language.

Because we are efficient, we like to save our energy for the more cognitive things we need to do in our lives. As a result, our default mode is to leverage our subconscious mind to autopilot the aspects of ourselves that we have already ingrained as habits. One of the habits deeply ingrained in our minds is the ability to detect certain physical cues from people’s body language and make immediate conclusions about their inferred meaning.

When we detect something in someone’s behavior that doesn’t “match” with what they are saying with their words, we feel a sense of “cognitive dissonance“. We don’t like to stay in this state of mental conflict for very long. To relieve this discomfort, we leave it to our subconscious mind to draw conclusions about that person. We intuitively “niche” or label them as an efficient way to filter the myriad of data coming at us at all times.

So if we see an advisor at an advisory board meeting crossing their arms while speaking, we assume that they are not open to the information. Or if someone has their head cocked to one side while someone else is speaking, we assume that they are not interested. While information and insights are being shared in the room, most of the interpretation of that information is being managed by our subconscious mind and stored in our memories through the neural networks of feelings and emotions that we have established over the years. We imprint people based on the ways we are used to categorizing and labeling body language cues.

Conversely, when advisors share ideas, thoughts, and insights in an online discussion forum in a private portal, the visual body language cues are no longer available to cloud one’s judgment. We are left to interpret information solely on the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex and must analyze and interpret the data using our highest brain functions. Bias and interpretation through the filters of our subconscious mind are no longer in play. Information becomes the media and the words no longer create incongruence with their meaning and intention.

If you want to “hear” more from your advisors and gather more thoughtful and well processed ideas through their stream of consciousness, reading their written words is an excellent way to objectify their meaning.