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20 February 2014

Sorry, the hardest word – what we can learn about confidence from Lance Armstrong

The Armstrong Lie, is a documentary directed by Alex Gibney that shows what happened as Lance Armstrong admitted doping.   One thing that fascinates me is how whether you watch Armstrong, or say Tiger Woods’ apologies a few years ago (both shown below), is how arguably incongruent or insincere their apologies seem.   There are things we can learn from watching Armstrong and improve our communication skills and confidence, which can be hugely important for meetings, presentations and even dates!

Lance Armstrong’s admission:
Tiger Woods’ apology:

What do you notice about what they say and how they say it? What is it that they do (or don’t do) that makes it uncomfortable viewing?

Why what they say jars:

Putting morality to one side, what’s interesting is that even though they say the word sorry, saying it and conveying meaning are two totally different things – and neither of the sportsmen appears to be at pains to come across as deeply apologetic.  You could argue that as sports people they don’t have to be able to convey authenticity – they just have to play sport.  Yet given the massive amount of negative media coverage around the lack of emotion that seemed to be behind their apologies generated, you would have to say authenticity is as important to them as sports people, as it is to you doing your job, as much as it is to me as a hypnotherapist in London.

The reason this jars is because of fundamentally how we as humans communicate.  If you were to ask yourself in % terms what the breakdown of human communication is, how much would you split between words, body language and tonality?  The very famous Mehrabian study and subsequent work done by Professor Albert Mehrabian shows that:

Words = 7%

Tonality = 38%

Body language = 55%

In other words, whilst what you’re saying is important, the tone and the body language convey more meaning.

If you’re not convinced think about this.  How many times have you apologised but not meant it sincerely and then been called out on it?  One thing a teacher of a deaf people will say is that it’s hard to lie to someone who’s deaf because they are massively attuned to body language.

There’s a lot we can all do to improve how we communicate.  And being really good at presenting is something it’s possible to improve on via our hypnotherapy for confidence sessions, as part of our hypnotherapy in London programme*.

In the next blog, we’ll talk about how you can create the conditions that will make you seem to appear to be a more authentic communicator.

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