The Power Of Influence And Nonverbal Communication with Michael Grinder

How do you work on nonverbal cues when you can’t have them? When you can’t see the person, you’re pretty much limited to the auditory. Michael Grinder says as human beings, what we do is we hallucinate within the first 40 seconds of seeing or listening to someone. We assume that if their voice sounds like this, they must look a certain way. That’s when we start to get into trouble. Michael is a world-renowned expert in the power of influence and nonverbal communication. He has authored thirteen books translated into seven languages. After years of experience as a teacher, Michael has been speaking at conferences and conducting seminars on his areas of expertise across the world. He has, for years, been seen as America’s Educator of Educators and is an expert on learning. Michael discusses the power of influence, the categories of nonverbal communication, the five circles of humanness, hallucinating, and his research on autism.

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication

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The Power Of Influence And Nonverbal Communication with Michael Grinder

We have a unique show. We have Michael Grinder who has authored thirteen books that have been translated into seven languages. He is also so interesting because he is an expert at the power of influence and nonverbal communication. He can read body language and tell you all about yourself and it’s very helpful for organizations. He’s a world-renowned expert in the power of influence, the science of nonverbal communication, nonverbal leadership, group dynamics, advanced relationship building skills, and presentation skills. After years of experience as a teacher, Michael has been conducting seminars and conferences on his areas of expertise around the world. He has for years, been seen as an American educator of educators and is an expert in learning. His work with many education districts and schools has transformed the levels of teaching and learning. It’s so nice to have you here, Michael. 

It’s a pleasure.

Amanda Goren introduced us and she had great things to say about you and I knew about your work. I thought, “This is going to be a lot of fun.” You tell your story on your website and how you got into things. In case anybody missed your story, can you give a little bit of background on how you reached this level of success?

There’s a cute two-minute YouTube called Mikey Grinder that shows me in black and white in the early 1950s. I was a hyperactive kid. I couldn’t settle down and I was dyslexic. I graduated from high school with a fourth-grade reading level and had to teach myself how to read when I was nineteen and twenty. I went on to get a Master’s degree. The family still jokes that I’m a living proof that you can be an author without being a writer. I started off being a teacher for eighteen years and then started representing my brother, John, who’s the co-founder of what’s called Neuro-linguistic Programming or NLP. I presented that representing him on a variety of different continents and found that I enjoy being in front of adults as well as being a classroom teacher with students.

I made the transition and became a corporation. I spent initially about 60% to 70% of my time with education. I go into a classroom. I was there as scheduled for fifteen minutes. I had to figure out which student with what kind of learning styles. Then I would meet with a teacher for fifteen minutes and give the teacher practical feedback in terms of how to help certain students that were hard to reach. From that, it was an easy transition into the corporate world of difficult conversations, group dynamics and how to handle people that need to be managed and disciplined.

It’s fascinating that you’re involved in so many different areas because I do a lot of the same thing in my field. Teaching virtually, it was interesting to me some of the nonverbal things that you discussed, not only just taking virtual courses but when you’re taking eCourses. I had a lot of virtual jobs where you’re not in the same room with people. It has its challenges and you get a lot of people asking you about that. How do you work on nonverbal cues when you can’t have them?

If we take nonverbal and put them into four categories, what people are doing with their eyes is called visual nonverbal. Their voice, which would be auditory nonverbals. Their body, which would be kinesthetic, and then their breathing, which would be relaxed or not relaxed. When you can’t see the person, you’re pretty much limited to the auditory. What we do is as human beings, we hallucinate. If their voice sounds like this, they must look a certain way. That’s when we started getting in trouble.

It’s interesting because if you don’t see somebody, sometimes I’ll talk to somebody on an interview and then later I’ll download their picture to put on for the thing. People do that with me all the time because I have a very low voice. People think I’m some big burly woman that’s going to come to knock down the door. In the online courses I teach, we teach them something called netiquette, which is how to deal with their tone and you don’t want them typing in all caps because that’s yelling. It’s something to learn about their type of learning abilities and there are different things that we do. How do you help organizations deal with virtual employees? Do they come to you for that?

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal Communication: We are going to naturally hallucinate within the first 40 seconds of seeing or listening to someone.


The most important thing you can teach people is to know that we are going to naturally hallucinate within the first 40 seconds of seeing or listening to someone. As long as you know that that’s false and you keep an open mindset, you’re fine. It’s when you go, “I know this person because they sound this way or they look this way.” It’s amazing how you have to stay open to your first impressions.

When you say hallucinate, what do you mean by that?

What I do is I use a model called the Five Circles of Humanness. The first thing you encounter with someone is their appearance. Then after you’re with them for a while, then you switch to their behaviors and then if you work with them, you probably switch to their styles. That’s where you have a lot of the personality inventories that talk about styles. As long as you don’t think that style is the same as a human being, you’re okay. When you start equating Myers & Briggs as that’s the real human being, that’s when you’re in trouble. The last two circles are called the values and the core identity. Each circle is a little more accurate in terms of who the person is, but normally given certain contexts, your behavior and your style will tend to be different. Such as if you’re a parent versus a spouse, at work versus at home, a wedding versus a funeral. Those are very different contexts.

The reason I find this fascinating because when I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence, I started being more interested in the factors that impact personality. That was the reason I did Myers & Briggs training. Not that I was so interested in MBTI or any other thing. I just thought, “That’s about personality. I want to learn a little bit about that.” I looked at the DISC and I looked into a bunch of different ones. I’m not one of those people that can drink the Kool-Aid too easily and think that this is the answer for everything. What it helped me with was not so much any self-assessment. I’m thinking, “What’s the surprise? I’m assessing myself.” What I found was learning the opposite of me because you think things from your own perspective.

I can remember where they put us in a room the first day. All the people who are F’s on this side, T’s on the other side, and I got a zero on the T. I had no F, I had a 100% T and I’m the only one that had that score. They asked us, “Do you like people to bake you cookies and bring you gifts to thank you?” All the F’s are going, “Yes, we love that.” All the T’s were looking at each other going, ‘What, why would you want that?” To me, it was interesting to look at how people associate with those types of traits, just to open my mind to there’s something different than how I think more empathetic. That’s where personality tests are interesting to me. When you’re looking at anything self-assessment, you’ve got to put a little bit of remembering that’s involved. I created an assessment to determine the curiosity of what impacts curiosity. I’m very interested in your opinion on that because coming up with that assessment was challenging. Trying to look at the things that hold people back by being curious, is that an area that you have dealt with at all? Where does that stand in your research?

At least the local public broadcast radio station, their theme for two years was staying curious. It’s almost the same shade with a corollary with growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. Before we go into curiosity, if I can add one more thing to personality assessment, it always seemed to me that self-assessment means that you get to stay within your own hallucinations, your self-image. Whereas it’d be dynamite for organizations to do an assessment of other people. It would be a 360-degree, not how you see yourself, but how other people see you. I find that that is so helpful.

The other thing I find is if you want to call it a consultant, if I’m working with someone and our rapport is fine, they’re intelligent, and we seem to be doing a good trust level, but we’re not moving, then my guess would be that the person’s description of a third party that they would like to have help with is skewed by their own interpretation. The question becomes, “Could I ever watch that executive with the other person so then I could be the outside eyes and ears?” I call that coaching, so you can do coaching where you do interview coaching or you can do observational coaching. I like observational coaching because I’m removing the person’s filters in terms of how they see the other person.

That’s important and you know that there are some things that you just can’t learn from observation. When I was looking at the things that impacted curiosity, a lot of it is environmental things from your childhood. Teaching to the test or whatever, maybe they didn’t get that exposure to certain ideas and certain things. It’s challenging to see the things that hold us back. I’m curious what you think holds people back from being curious.

Success is based on staying in love and staying in shape. Click To Tweet

I personally have to have a lot of safety for me to be curious. Someone once said, I think it was a poet or at least he acquainted himself with one, “We all have certain areas that we have to have almost routines then we have other areas where we expand like crazy.” I at least thought about myself and I’m curious when they have two conditions. One is, and these are the same conditions that Stephen King talks about. He says his success is based on staying in love and staying in shape. I find that that’s true. My relationship with my wife allows me to do Rudyard Kipling’s famous line about how fame and failure are equal imposters. I can go out and try things, but my identity is at home.

If you’re not married and have no significant other, then what?

If you’re going to be in front of people such as a public speaker and executive director, then you have to make sure that there’s something after hours that you are looking forward to so that your whole identity is not involved with what you’re going to do during working hours. It could be the next chapter of a book. It can be seeing a great friend. It could be there’s this TV series and I’ve taped it. “I want to know the next sequel is.” When I say being in love, it doesn’t necessarily mean with another person.

It’s nice if you could share those things with another person too. My husband and I watched all of Lost. We got so addicted to that. It’s so important to look at the things that make people well-rounded in the workplace. I have a lot of people that have asked me to talk about probably some of the things you talked about which are engagement issues, culture, soft skills, and emotional intelligence. All these things will keep coming up over and over again and that will continue because these are things that people need to work on. I often ask my students this question because communication comes up in every single course I teach. It’s in every course and I’ve taught more than a thousand business courses. If there’s so much studied and so much written about the importance of communication, why do so many people still struggle with it?

I can’t tell you why people struggle, but I do know some avenues to help people from a decrease in their struggle. One of them is if you cannot see the person, you’ve just taken away at least two of your four categories of nonverbal communication. Now you have a harder time, where if you think about the other person based on their voice, you can’t verify it because you can’t see them. The more you can have all four categories, see people, be able to hear people, watch them move, and then notice their breathing, the more accurate your read is going to be on that other human being. The other thing that we have that’s difficult is the generation of texting means that we’re missing what you’re so good at, which you teach emotional intelligence, how to read another human being. If you’re not looking at a face, we’re in jeopardy of increasing the autism spectrum for the next generation.

What have you researched on autism?

I have two Millennials in my office. When I asked them to contact someone, their first impulse is to text. Their second impulse is to email. Their last impulse is to pick up a phone.

How does that tie into autism?

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal Communication: Autism is the inability to read another human being. You miss cues.


Autism is the inability to read another human being. You miss cues. Autism is the opposite end of emotional intelligence.

You mentioned breathing. What can you tell from somebody’s breathing?

If you pretend that you can either breathe higher low and then you can emphasize either your inhalation or your exhalation, those four variables determine the chemicals that you’re releasing inside your body. When you breathe high like shock, you’re going to release the three Fs of flight, fight and freeze. If you breathe low, you release chemicals of calmness, so meditation, prayer, if you relax, so mindfulness. Anything that will cause low breathing allows you to get more oxygen to the brain, which means you’re automatically at a growth mindset at that moment. Whereas every time you breathe high, you go into a fixed mindset.

I was a pharmaceutical rep for fifteen years. You bring it back my parasympathetic-sympathetic training. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to talk about that. I looked into some of that with my research on curiosity because there’s a release of dopamine when you’re curious and cortisol if you get too much going on. It’s fascinating when you look at the chemical impact when we get curious and when we learn and all those factors. You’ve taught yourself so much because when you’re young, you had difficulty learning. You were obviously a very curious person. What do you think spurred you on to wanting to fix that you weren’t learning the way you think you should have been? What made you want to say, “I’m going to figure it out?”

There are several different mile markers. One was my father’s sheet rocker drywall and I watched him in terms of make a living. I was one of nine children. I absolutely admired how he at 42 took up jogging because he knew that he has to be in shape. For someone to be in shape for work, that just blew me away. As I paid my own way through university hanging sheetrock, the drywall that he had taught everyone in the family that wanted to learn, I realized I never wanted to count on my body in order to make a living. I knew I wanted to use my mind.

How can we get more people to use their mind because I actually just interviewed a man that’s running for president here in 2020? His platform is he wants people to learn more, to re-educate themselves because they’re going to lose some of these body-entailed jobs because different things are going to go away because of AI. How do we get people more interested in developing their mind and think like you?

Part of it is long-term versus short-term. When you’re a certain age, you’re invincible and tomorrow is always around the corner. If you don’t have this job and get another job so when the job market is pretty fruitful and you can go when twenty through 30. If you don’t have a job now, you’ll have a job tomorrow or next week. There’s no need for you to go long-term thinking. If you were trying to mentor someone, you had tried to have a future pace, “Let’s pretend it’s ten years from now. Tell me your age. Would you be married? Would you have children?” What you do is you create a picture of what that future might be and then say, “How would you be doing your responsibility if you were going to be the breadwinner?” What they do is they then go from the future back towards the present and that’s better than trying to go from the present to the future. It’s better to jump to the future and then backtrack.

I wrote a course, a foresight or a technology school. We started at the end with the world started working backwards. It was a lot of fun because I was trying to get them to be proactive. We had Stephen Covey’s book. It’s important what you’re saying. A lot of my Doctoral students, when I was a Doctoral chair, had a hard time looking at that dissertations. I got to write that and I would use them. I go, “How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time?” People make that joke, but it’s hard to think in incremental steps for some people and see the overall picture without freaking out. How do you get them to see the end and not freak out?

You have to keep them breathing low. I know one of the things I have to do with myself because I tend to operate quite well in terms of if I’m going to write a book, I have the keyboard in front of me and I pretend that I have the answer that the world needs. It’s very cocky, arrogant and that’s when I write best. If I sit down as a very humble person I go, “Who am I?” Part of the ability for me to jump to the future is I have to jump from my arrogant part. If I don’t have an arrogant part, I think of who in my family does, I’ll pretend I’m them and I’ll take on their persona. That has helped me a lot.

The other thing I do in terms of eating the elephant one bite at a time was the very first book I wrote. I was approached by a publisher and first of all, I can’t write. They said, “Can you write one-page papers?” I said, yes, and so I would start writing one-page papers. Then I would take 3×5 cards and I put the name of each paper on a 3×5 card. I would literally get up on a ladder and put all the cards on the floor. I would look down at them and then I would go down and I would take two cards that seem like they’re exactly the same. On the back, I would put a letter of such as A’s. Then I would cluster them. What I would do is that would then take all the papers, the 3×5 cards, and I’ll shuffle them. I would wait a week to two weeks, put them back on the ground, I could only you can see the front, I could not see the back. I would try to go to them again. The second week, I might do a circle with an A and B circle with C’s. Until I could go three weeks with the same correlation I would say, “I’m not ready yet.” As soon as I had those, then I went, “These five one-page papers are the skeleton of chapter two.” Then if I built small to big, I could fool myself.

That’s so fascinating because I went through the whole factor analysis issue with trying to figure out the factors that impact curiosity. You’re trying to find those things that grew up together. You’re just doing it manually. It’s something that you know in your head, and you trick yourself into thinking, “Maybe these go together.” I liked the idea of creating a book based on maybe blogs or different things that you’ve written in pieces, but it is challenging to put it all together. One of my favorite books is Death by Black Hole by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s a collection of his essays. He wrote, printed and put them all together. As you listen to it now that you think that you go, “There isn’t a story. It does jump around.” It’s a great way to write certain books because I’m not a storyteller. I’m not Stephen King and I like to do what you did, come up with different pieces. I find it fascinating how people organize and that works for a lot of people. You gave people some great tips on how to write a book. The book is the new business card, so you have to have one almost.

Your self-image is the number one variable that gets in the way of your professional development. Click To Tweet

There’s a saying along that line, your self-image is the number one variable that gets in the way of your professional development. Get it out of the way.

I liked the imitating the family thing. I think I do that. My sister has got a very bubbly personality. If I have to be on a sales call or something like that, I could hear her sometimes. You don’t know you do that, but if you think about it you probably do it. Coming from arrogance is an interesting perspective, but there are so many leaders out there who think they’re going to be figured out that they don’t know as much as everybody thinks that they know. Do we need to pump ourselves up? Do we have to see ourselves a little bit higher than we see ourselves? Is that good to do? How do you look at that?

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal Communication: My marriage is based on making sure that I come home not as the person who did well, but as a human being that wants to be vulnerable and share.


When I came back from three weeks in Australia, I had fairly large groups. The larger the group, the shorter amount of time with them. For their sake, I have to increase my ego size, so I can provide safety for the 350 people. Whereas when I’m with twenty people and we’re together for two days, I have to be real. You can’t fake it. When I come home to Gail, I say when I walk in the door, “Gail, you’re a lucky person. I’m home.” Whereas if I have had smaller groups of people for longer lengths of time, I’m much more humbled. I know that my marriage is based on making sure that I come home not as the person who did well, but as a human being that wants to be vulnerable and share.

You shared a lot with your books and you’ve written some great pieces and I’m curious what book was your favorite. Which one stands out in your mind?

It’s the one that is in the next person I’m dating. The next book you’re writing is the best book. My favorite has been the PerceptionIf they want to go to YouTube and type in my name and then put in House of Communication, it will explain 40 years of the research I’ve been doing. On the third floor of the house is how you look at one person, two people, group dynamics and system. Each of those asks a different question. I’m trying to create an online community called Magic. It’s going to be called Michael and Gail’s International Community. It will teach people online how to do a profile. If I was going to profile you, it’d be based on your appearance and your behavior and your style type of thing.

You talk about groups and it makes me think about group think and how people don’t want to stand out from the crowd. I studied some of that with the curiosity of why people don’t ask questions. They don’t want to look dumb. Are you seeing a lot of that and how do you deal with helping people with that?

When I’m a trainer, let’s use that context, I find that if during the course of whatever length of time were together, one day or five days, if I can get everyone to do something wrong within the first two hours, then it comes lunchtime and I ask, “What are you learning?” I get all kinds of people sharing. If I don’t have everyone do something wrong, then no one wants to indicate that they’ve learned anything because that’d be a mission that they didn’t know what they had done. I create safety by making sure we do things collectively wrong and then we’re safer.

How you listen determines the amount of influence you have when you speak. Click To Tweet

What kind of things?

We have the thing that’s called six wrong ways to impress another person. It’s on YouTube. It’s two minutes long. What it says is you can become an incessant talker talking to somebody that has no hand gestures. What they do is they have the content, and I was going to just the content, and every time they breathe, they breathe very hard. They have to do abdominal breathing so they don’t come across as very intelligent.

The second of the six wrong ways is called the hyperactive motivational speaker. They know how to influence people, but they never pause. The third one is called medicated. Medicated is when you have someone who, not out of special needs, but what they do is they open their mouth before they talk. I mean this very respectfully. George W. Bush did it. If you go on YouTube, you just watch, he locked his elbows on the lectern. Whenever you lock your elbows, you can’t breathe this low. If you bend your elbows, it’s easier. That’s why people when they take up a lot of space at the table, they’ll come across as absolutely being powerful but not necessarily intelligent. What model of communication do you want to follow? You can bulk yourself up and for fifteen minutes the chemicals in your body are different. You can go with Brené Brown and be very vulnerable. There are so many models out there. To me that the wisdom is, when do you do which model? You don’t want to choose one model over another. You want all of them.

It would be very monotone and boring to do just one thing. I find it though, I get on the Hall of Fame speakers on my show and they’re so fun to watch. Dr. Willie Jolley sang to me on the show. I don’t know if you sing, but I’ll put you on the spot if you do. They all have their thing, what makes them so dynamic. I see men in particular and maybe it’s just what I’ve seen on my show, they don’t take themselves as seriously and they can be just all over the board. Women are less likely, is it me or do you see that in the people you deal with?

It’s not a very fair equation. I have six biological sisters, so I’m well-versed in the glass ceiling. What is acceptable? In fact, we do an activity where we get a male and a female sitting in a chair and a male and a female sitting in another chair. We pretend these are the bosses and these are the subordinates. The subordinates are going to do a proposal to the boss. We do two men talking to each other and we outline how the male is going to listen. This is just about the boss, so the male’s going to sit with the head still, never bob it, no facial expression. Make sure you break eye contact at least once. Make sure you have no encouraging sounds. We do a stereotype of the female, which everyone resents, and I want them to.

The female’s going to nod their head. She’s going to lean forward. She’s going to make eye contact the whole time. She’ll make cringing sounds. What we do is then when we have both men talk to each other, we have both women talk to each other. We have the man stay with the style he did with a male, but he has a female subordinate. Then we switched with the female with the male. There are eight different patterns and you realize here’s where the misinterpretations go because the new age sensitive guy can lean forward. He can do encouraging sounds and he adds to his style if it’s a female subordinate doing the proposal. Whereas when the female does the male style of listening, the b-word comes out.

I’ve heard of that happened and it’s interesting. Why do you think that is?

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal Communication: No matter what your style is, if you think that they could misinterpret you, you’ve got to get that elephant out.


It’s just cultural stereotypes. What we recommend is no matter what your style is and one’s not better than the other, if you think that they could misinterpret you, that’s what I like to use the word hallucinate, you’ve got to get that elephant out. For me, I have to get my age out. I’m 75 years old. Otherwise, people guess, “I wonder how old he is.” It preoccupies our attention. If you tend to listen, male or female, and you tend to listen with a still head, tell the person, “I promise I’m going to be listening and I want to make sure you know that I’m not judging.” Because you’ve got to get that elephant out. Whereas if you’re on the other side, male or female, and you tend to bob and lean forward, you have to get that elephant out and say, “I promise I’m going to encourage the dialogue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with what you’re saying.”

I interviewed a gentleman running for office and he was probably pretty far left. I have to stay in the middle. I don’t want to go right or left or your right or left. I wanted to make sure that it was very clear that I’m staying in the middle and in my mind as I’m talking to him, I’m thinking, “The left is going to be thinking that’s the right perspective in the right.” I’m not thinking either. I’m waiting for the YouTube comments to come up. I had a guy that’s going to be on my show and I noticed he’s not going to be. I was interested in interviewing him, but he looks at how people based on their political bent, we’ll see what they want to see coming out of the other person and his research was that way. It’s tough, isn’t it? 

It’s bias confirmation.

It can be very challenging. I’m so aware of that when I talked to somebody that I don’t want to come across as I’m challenging him because his ideas are not good. I don’t want to come across as I think everything he says is great. It’s the same thing in the workplace. You’ve got to be very careful of how you’re perceived and it’s just so complicated with so many generations. The talks that I give a lot are more about generational conflict because there’s so much of it. Where are you located first of all? I know you said you were in Australia doing that, but where’s home base?

Across the river from Portland, Oregon.

You go all over the world. Do you see a difference in generations in other countries or is it the same all over or it’s everywhere?

It started to fade about six to nine months ago. We had about a five-year time period for about people in a ten-year span. Their voices are coming up and they all sounded like they were Australian. Even the people in my office, if they start socializing, they will switch to that context. When we’re doing business in the office, the Millennials never krill their voice up. It’s only when they’re socializing. It’s a very context-specific situation.

I have not heard of that. Why is that? Do you know why?

No, that’s the beauty and the bane of social media. Malcolm Gladwell called that The Tipping Point, then everyone starts doing it. We don’t know how do you get to it. There is a science to it and that’s what people that are in marketing are trying to do.

It is very challenging and I find it fascinating when I’m talking to Millennials. They talk about this next generation of Gen Z. Is there ever going to be a time where we all appreciate all the different generations? That’s a challenge. When the alpha generation or whatever the next one comes out, it’ll always be the same. I love for everybody to try to appreciate what you can get from each generation. It’s the most challenging I’ve ever seen it in the workplace. I’ve never seen so many generations. A lot of people struggle with that. A lot of people are struggling with soft skills. A lot of people are being hired for their knowledge and fired for their behaviors. I’m sure you probably deal with that quite often. Do you do emotional intelligence training or any of that? What do you cover in that perspective?

Not anywhere near like you would, and I mean that respectfully. I do more in the area under the auspices of how you listen determines the amount of influence you have when you speak. I teach people how to listen better.

With listening, I find that my students will tend to copy and paste quotes and then send you a whole bunch of copy and pasted quotes and block it all together. Then they did their paper because they got all this information together. None of it makes any sense or they haven’t looked over it or understood it or digested it. As far as papers, I require them to do paraphrase citations. It shows that they understood and I suggest that to people when I speak. When you listen, you’ve got to paraphrase it. Otherwise, if you just say back exactly what they said to you, that doesn’t show you figured out what they want. Do you have exercises in listening?

Whatever you're bummed out about is more important than what you weren't bummed out about. Click To Tweet

If we pretend that nonverbals are based on visual, what the face looks like, auditory is the voice, kinesthetic is the body, and the b stands for breathing. What you can teach people to do is that anytime they say something that is within their baseline, it’s not important. Anytime you see an increase in any of these, it is important. You have to first figure out someone’s baseline and this is how you get five generations. One generation will have a different baseline than another generation, but I promise you they always mark off. Either their facial increase in terms of expressiveness, voice pattern, the gesture is a little bit more than normal. Anytime you’re in the baseline, at least three-fifths background noise, it doesn’t mean anything. The people will mark off for you what is important.

If people wanted to practice, there’s a great YouTube video by David Morrison. He’s the Head of the Armed Services in Australia that made the famous speech about we will not tolerate a different standard for females versus males. It’s three minutes long and you can turn off the sound and watch it for three minutes and watch it a second time. You’ll notice it he only moves his head once, he only blinks once, he only moves his head up and down once. You take those three items, find out what he says, and you have the essence of three minutes of his conversation. What’s amazing to me is if people want to get good at this, most people will recognize when someone goes above their baseline, but it’s when someone goes to a whisper, they’re indicating their core value.

How do you get your baseline first of all?

You have to be with someone at least for a while to know what is their normal. For example, let’s pretend that I’m sideways and I’m gesturing. If I gestured within this range, that’s a baseline. If I go past that point, then this is that much more important than everything I said. If my head bobs up and down or stays still, whatever it is, it’s a shift in the behavior signals. That’s all emotional intelligence is respectfully, and I know you know more than I did, for the layperson.

I totally understand that. I’m Italian on my mother’s side. We are all very demonstrative in terms of our hands and our eyes get big and I make all these faces when I watch on YouTube. We’re very animated. That’s my baseline because I’m always doing it. All of a sudden, I start being like this. What does that tell you?

Then you would indicate that whatever you’re saying is more important than what you said when you had your baseline.

Can it mean that I just have been bummed out?

Whatever you’re bummed out about is more important than what you weren’t bummed out about.

If I’m even more animated, we’re all in trouble because I’m over the top.

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal Communication: You understand communication using baseline interpretation.


When you’re looking at two Germans and you look at two Italians, the two Italians are about seven inches closer. They’re nose to nose, about seven inches closer than two Germans. If you take into account what the baseline is, then you’re okay. That’s how you go from one culture to another, one generation to another. You understand communication using baseline interpretation.

My father and my husband’s father had a lot of German. We both have an Italian mother. What does that tell you? 

It’s a good mix.

There are all kinds of stuff conflicting up there maybe. We’re standing here. It is an interesting look at humanity. I’d love to understand interpersonal skills and how people relate. I teach a lot of HR courses. It’s so much fun to understand people to me. I could see why you’ve been so successful because you obviously embrace it so strongly and you write amazingly about all these topics. Amanda said I would love you and she’s right. You were awesome. I know a lot of people are going to check out all those different YouTube that you talked about in different things. Can you share some way that they can find out more about you and get your books and all that type of thing?

Same as my name,

I understand it and it works out great. You have been such a great guest and this is nice of you to join me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Michael agreed to go ahead and do a read on my personality and how he saw me based on our interpersonal inner dealings on the show. He’d only known me for the time it took to record that last part of the episode. He gave me a reading and I thought I’d go ahead and share that of what he saw based on just our interactions and my cues I gave, the way I spoke, the way I looked and all that. I’m going to share that next. I thought it was quite interesting. 

I’m going to talk about Diane as if you’re not Diane. There’s no question about how feminine she is. Because she has what my wife had called striking features and striking features is different than beauty features. Striking features are those that people would tend to notice if she walked into the room. She has no desire to have people know her on that level and at the same time, she’s extremely feminine. She’s selective in terms of which people get to know just the surface because she’s got the narrow face. The narrow face would indicate that she comes across as credible when she’s not talking. She has the big eyes, which indicate that she’s very approachable. If you did a mixture in terms on just the appearance level, you wouldn’t find that she fits any particular category. A photograph of her will indicate if she’s not smiling, she’s extremely intense and that she is thoughtful and is precise because she can’t stand fluff for the sake of fluff.

Then if we go to behaviors on a behavioral level and a style level, she absolutely loves a challenge. She doesn’t like anyone giving her the answer. Whenever she starts to explore something, she’ll find out what’s out there in publication. She will look at it, but she’ll never be completely satisfied. There’s a precision of her brain that she has done what I would call it intellectual self-discipline. If someone doesn’t know that about her brain, they’re missing her as a human being because she is a very exact and at the same time open. Those normally don’t mix. Normally, they’re not cousins. That’s why you’re going to be unique and most of the time whenever you take a Myers & Briggs or whatever else, a lot of the times it’s safer for you to go none of the above or all of the above because you don’t fit in any category, you cross categories. You’re not credible or just approachable. You’re not concrete or abstract, you’re both. That means it’s harder for you to satisfy yourself and you don’t want to be satisfied. Because whatever you find, “I finally got something,” you will be extremely what I call the honesty of a social scientist, which is, “I want to see if I can disprove my own work.”

You love bias confirmation, but at the same time you would rather have, not your closest friend, but your closest working friends when they give you compliments, you accept them. They’re not as valuable as when someone gives you a constructive criticism of how you could do better than what you’re doing. You love that because you’re doing something for me. For most people, the University of Miami researches six compliments and the one mild criticism. It’s the opposite for you. If someone hasn’t given you six things that will make you better, they don’t have the right yet to give you a compliment. When you do something well, whether it be a training or an assessment or a consultancy and someone says, “You did a good job,” it’d be better if they want to score points and be respectful of you as to say, “You must have worked your tail off to get to this point of competence so that you could do what you just did.” Now, they’re starting to understand you because if they say it’s just natural, that’s insulting to the discipline you’ve gone through over many years. The real you inside is going to be a lot more introverted than your wonderful extrovert part of you. That’s why I say you’re either going to have to check all of the above or none of the above because you just don’t fit a category.

You've earned the right to give yourself grace. Click To Tweet

You tend to have two sets of friends. One set of friends are what I’m going to call your dog friends from the concept of household pets, and your dog friends are the ones that you can get together on a weekend and go, “I’m exhausted. I did four radio shows that did research on three others. Can we just rest and maybe have a little bit of something to drink?” Those are your dog friends and they just love you. You’re in a cocoon and you’re accepted. Then you have to have another set of friends that I’m going to call the household cats. When you’ve been bumming it for a while and you haven’t challenged yourself, they absolutely put it to you in terms of saying, “Come on, you’re coasting. Stop coasting, Diane. Get off your tail. So what? You have time this coming weekend. You can do it. Come on.” Then your best friends are the ones that can be both a dog and a cat. You can call up on a Thursday night and say, “Good friend, I know I’m pledged on Saturday and this is Thursday. I don’t think I can honestly be a very good company. Do you mind if we postpone it?” Those are your very best friends. Because they give you a latitude, but they expect you to keep nine out of ten promises, so they will hold you to it. At the same time, you’ve earned the right to give yourself grace.

Giving yourself grace is one of the things that I would offer that you have struggled with over the years because you’re always harder on yourself than anyone else. You hate to impose or presume about other people. You’re such a good heart. That’s what comes through. Just watching your face and your continence, you’re just a very accepting person and I appreciate that. You’ll never have any trouble with retirement because there will always be something that you’ll want to explore.

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal Communication: There are three levels of risks: over risk, under risk, and appropriate risk.


Someone once said, “There are three levels of risks. There’s over risk, there’s under risk, and there’s appropriate risk.” You tend to be just within the regular risk and then you peak too far above and you make a commitment without checking your calendar first and you’re in a hole and you have to fulfill the obligation. At the same time, you realize, “I have to make a contract with my body when the rest a month because I made this comment that I would help out do something volunteer.”

You're always harder on yourself than anyone else. Click To Tweet

I wanted to share that with you and I wanted to thank Michael for doing that for me. I’ll be curious to see if people agree with what does he had to say. I certainly saw a lot of what he was talking about in my own personal experience of what I would have agreed with. He does have some fascinating work and he does this for organizations. You can see how that would be helpful for hiring people to see if they were well-matched for a job. Thank you so much to Michael for being such a great guest on the show and he was so fascinating. I hope you take some time to go to his site.

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About Micheal Grinder

TTL 245 | Nonverbal Communication

Michael Grinder has authored 13 books, translated into 7 languages. Michael Grinder is a master of, and world renown expert in, the power of influence — the science of non-verbal communication, non-verbal leadership, group dynamics, advanced relationship building skills and presentation skills. After years of experience as a teacher, Michael has been speaking at conferences and conducting seminars on his areas of expertise across the world. He has, for years, been seen as America’s educator of educators and is an expert on learning. His work with many education districts and schools has transformed the levels of teaching and learning.

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