Imagine that everyone you’ve ever talked to heard the opposite message you had tried to communicate. Is it possible that this has actually happened with some of the people you’ve spoken to today? What exactly is your body telling people? What exactly is their body telling you?
In 2003 I founded the Skyway Foundation, a company that organises sense-stimulating music events for both deaf and hearing people across the world. I am currently setting up a new project in London - a series of workshops on Body Language that are conducted by deaf trainers.
With body language comprising up to 90% of our overall communication, you probably miss out on a lot of what your co-workers are really trying to communicate. Think about the impact that could have on your meetings with your colleagues, on the contacts you have with your clients, and on the way you are trying to motivate or manage your employees.
These potential problems can be avoided all together by becoming more aware and more in control of the nonverbal signals you send. These signals can be transmitted in many ways, including, but not limited to, the following: physical appearance, proximity and personal space, facial expressions, posture, gestures, and eye contact.
Another interesting fact about nonverbal communication is that it is predominantly an unconscious action. Without your overt control, your body shows your true feelings about the topic being discussed. A variety of problems can arise when your words don’t match the movements of your body, such as: misunderstandings, conflicts, and hurt feelings. These all interfere with productivity at work.
And on the other hand, here are people who are frequently outcast from society because they are considered handicapped or limited in some way. Or in any other way, viewed as not able to participate mostly because ‘regular’ society is not ready to handle them. By doing that we are losing a lot of capital; potential talent is not being used, instead it is costing the society a lot of money to take care of them.
That is where the Skyway Academy comes in and utilizes the opportunities within adversity. Since 2002, we have been organising sense-stimulating music events for not only deaf people, but also for hearing people since the regular club audience is also interested in how their favourite music smells or tastes. The success of this concept inspired the founders to come up with other innovations. Hence, workshops facilitated by deaf trainers who are keenly aware of your body language.
Who better to lead the workshops than people who have been speaking and reading body language their whole lives? They have an advantage in body language and the participants benefit by receiving personalised feedback on how their body communicates.
Once again, the Netherlands turned out to be a good platform for new things and by now we have developed a format that has enough quality for the English corporate market. The first results from workshops with Barclays, Deloitte and ABN AMRO were remarkable:
Office communications became more efficient.
Professionalism was improved when people became more aware of the negative signals they were sending and they got more skilled at sending positive signals.
Overall communication within teams and with clients was improved and made more authentic.
Company culture was enhanced by creating a more inclusive environment where disabilities were viewed as an advantage, or at least not as something that should limit them in their capacities.
In cooperation with the RSA Catalyst program, we were able to develop an informational video clip that explains how a workshop from Skyway Academy’s deaf trainers could work for everybody, and for corporate companies in particular.
On Tuesday 16 June at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design, we will deliver a presentation about our workshop in order to give people a better understanding of how the workshop can be beneficial to them and their colleagues.
If you are interested, you can find out more here, or feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronald Ligtenberg FRSA
RSA Fellow, Ronald Ligtenberg, founded the Skyway Foundation, a company that organises sense-stimulating music events for deaf and hearing people across the world. Read about his new project in London - workshops on Body Language that are conducted by deaf trainers.