How to Read People and Influence Perceptions

Competition for top leadership positions is tough. Intelligence and good social skills are the price of admission, but they’re not enough.

A high-potential candidate must master the intricacies of reading people, predicting behaviors and influencing perceptions — advanced communication skills that can be learned.

The effective CEO’s presence and essence have changed tremendously over the last two decades. There’s no hiding behind a title. What propels most executives to the top won’t keep them there for long.

Today’s effective leaders have more than presence, charisma and charm. They are strategic about managing their communication skills and adroit at reading others’ perceptions and values.

Perceptive leaders craft messages that meet their target audiences’ needs. They understand which information will be filtered out, how messages become distorted and disregarded, and how information is assigned meaning.

Psychological Icebergs

The stimuli we hear and see are merely the tip of a complex psychological iceberg. Preconceptions about body language may cause us to miss more important signals. Leaders must learn to identify how people’s values become filters for their perceptions.

Research shows that people are only 20 percent successful at reading body language. Determining the true meaning of visual, verbal and nonverbal cues requires a more complex analysis of other variables.

This article examines situational awareness as one component of social intelligence and suggests five steps to improve one’s ability to read people, influence perceptions and gain executive presence.
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The complete 2,000 word article includes these important concepts:

  • Social Intelligence:

o    Situational Awareness
o    Presence
o    Authenticity
o    Clarity
o    Empathy

  • Body language
  • People-reading
  • Flight-plan for Your Career
  • The invisible Iceberg
  • The Bias Trap
  • Optimizing Outcomes
  • The Influence of Context
  • 3 Context Dynamics to Observe:

o    The Proxemic Context
o    The Behavioral Context
o    The Semantic Context

  • 5 Steps for Better People-Reading Skills

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