#13 Body Language & Likability with Vanessa Van Edwards


Content Discussed:

Website |Science Of People Website

Book |Captivate: The Science Of Succeeding With People

Course |People School


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Amy Riordan:   0:00

"Anyone can learn to be charismatic." - Vanessa Van Edwards.


Amy Riordan:   0:11

Welcome to The Amy Riordan Podcast. They say owning a business is a journey in self development, so I decided to explore just that. Whether you're an entrepreneur or looking for fulfillment in your day to day life, get inspired here through interviews, life stories and proven self help techniques. What you do with the information received in this podcast is completely up to you, but if you act, you will alter the course of your life in ways you never could have possibly imagined. I'm Amy Riordan. Let's do this. 


Amy Riordan:   0:40

Today I got to interview the amazing Vanessa Van Edwards. Vanessa is a best selling author of the book Captivate the Science of Succeeding With People. This book has been translated into 16 different languages, You guys. She's also the founder of Science of the People, where she teaches innovative science based people skills. More than 300 million people watched her tutorials on YouTube and you guys should check them out. They're insane. This interview is one of my favorites, and you guys will find out why it isn't just because she braved a storm. Yes, there was thunder in the background. Let's see if you can hear it, but it's also because she's so genuine and easy to talk to. She works as entrepreneurs, growing businesses and trillion dollar companies, and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS Fast Company, Entrepreneur magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more. So I hope that you guys enjoy this as much as I did. It's definitely an interview that I will be referring back to when it comes to people skills. Check it out. Hi, Vanessa. Thank you so much for joining us here. I'm really excited to hear what you have to say about science of people and how to succeed with people. Please introduce yourself. 


Vanessa Van Edwards:   1:45

Oh, my goodness. Thanks so much for having me. I am honored to be here and hopefully some a little inspiration out to everyone who's looking.


Amy Riordan:   1:51

Definitely. So for those of you who don't know about Vanessa, she has a website called Science of people dot com and all the links will be included below. She's done a lot. So Vanessa, give us, like, an overview of the things that you've done. I'm just to kind of give people an idea of who you are and how you can help them with their goals. 


Amy Riordan:   2:09

Sure, so I like to joke that I'm a recovering, awkward person. And, um, I growing up and entering the first phase of my career, I always sort of felt like people had a rule book that I just hadn't gotten like there was serving well. They just knew how have really interesting conversations. And I knew how to be charismatic and they knew how toe or to put their hands and how to stand. And I just felt like I had missed that lesson somehow in school and eso i As I started to talk about this more, I realized that I wasn't the only person who felt this way. There was lots of recovering offered people out there, and I thought, you know, is there a way to study for people like you study for chemistry or algebra? Could we have formulas for conversation? Could we have frameworks for relationships? That's the way that I learned, and I wondered if there was a way to do it for relationships. And so I set out to research exactly that I started the science of people my. The original version of the company, which was actually called Radical parenting, which was a parenting website, was back in 2007 and started Signs Evil in 2012. And since then it has blown up. And so what I never could have imagined. I did a research experiment on Ted Talks and 2015 which got me my own Ted talk and then a book and in the book magically somehow landed on every awkward person's doorstep. And now it's the 16 different languages.


Amy Riordan:   3:36

Wow, I would like to say that I'm a recovering, awkward person, but I feel like there's still a lot of awkward. They're recovering. We're in recovery, right for trying. So I'm curious. One of the biggest things that I struggle with this actually approaching people to have conversations. I remember there's one instance where I saw two people talking about something that I loved, and I just, like, interjected myself like, Oh, I heard you guys talking about this and I came off so awkward. So what would you recommend to people that want to introduce


Vanessa Van Edwards:   4:05

themselves into the middle of a conversation? Yeah, well, first is something he said. at the very end was actually think is really important. You said I feel like I came across this so awkward and this is the plague of awkward people. Everywhere is we think everything we do is horribly, terribly unforgivable and awkward. And that's down to our facial expressions to are resting face to how we interjects how we say something in a classroom. And what they actually think is that this is called the spotlight effect. It's actually a psychological phenomenon, so obviously were the center of our universe, and this is sometimes really good. It gives us confidence and get the self esteem, but it can also be really bad. And a set of researchers set out to see if we're is awkward as we think we are. And they did it with a little bit of a different framing. They wanted to see if, um, if people do something embarrassing to others notice That's what they did. Was they had participants in their study is their students in a university where the most embarrassing T shirt they could think of, which was a very mantle of a T shirt very mellow is it isn't very cool. These days in college, so they have them wear a giant very male is Julie Giant picture very mental on their on their T shirt. And then they had the students walk into a big lecture hall in front of 200 students, like literally walk on the stage, handsome. It's the teacher and then walk out. And 70% of these students thought that everyone in the room noticed, and they thought that they were a loser. But actually, less than 20% of the students noticed the Barry Manilow T shirt at all in the classroom. And so what it shows is basically that our perception of our awkwardness of what we think is embarrassing we spotlight it. Think about when you have a pimple, right? If you have a pimple on your face, you think it had takes over your entire face. You're like no one's gonna be even even able to look at me today. My pimple is so distracting and so horrible. I can't even, like, show my face anywhere. Well, actually, your pimples a very small percentage of your face. And most people, when you actually ask them, won't even notice that you have a pimple. And so what I say to you first before we talk about approaching a group, which I definitely will talk about, is I bet you that if we were to go back to those two people that you interrupted, they would be like, Oh, yeah, it was so, so great talking to Amy. She was awesome. They probably would not say you're awkward. They probably would have delighted in your conversation. And by the way, when you whenever you tell someone Oh, I heard you guys talking about that topic. I love that topic too. It's actually a chemical gift. We love film for similar people. It makes us feel more affirmed in our choices. So you probably made them feel good.


Amy Riordan:   6:51

Okay, well, I hope so. I guarantee it. It's amazing how awkward it makes you feel or like, if you say something and you're like, Oh, why did I say that? Yeah, exactly. So I just want the


Vanessa Van Edwards:   7:02

honor that it is very likely that you might feel awkward, but it actually doesn't come across awkward. But if you ever have to enter into a group of people, I have a whole bunch of different strategies for this one. You want to pick the right people. So if you have two people that are what's called fronting, so I love body language. I love normal behavior, but you have to people who are fronting, which means their feet are on parallel lines. Their hips are on parallel lines, their shoulders on parallel lines, that there literally standing directly facing each other. That's a closed stance, and typically it means they're Tet, a Tet. They're very engaging conversation there, so aligned, in fact, that they their feet are angled toward that person. There. Eyes are taking in their whole body language, and they're physically on the same page. I would not approach them if you have a choice. What you're looking for is the pivot out. So people who have one foot angled out, one shoulder, leaning back they're not on parallel lines. They look more like an open book, literally. If you think of like a book being open, um, back. Those are the people that you really want approach, and the reason for this is because when were deeply, deeply engaged in conversation, we tend to angle everything we have towards that person, and so we don't want anyone to come and approach us. One work casually in conversation. I'll even say, like we have our toe into a conversation. No, there. So what do you do? Oh, yeah, that show is nice. Yeah, it's been a busy week. They're engaged, but their entire being is it? Did it. In fact, they're probably very open to some other kind of stimulation. So first, look for the open book pattern in groups. And by the way, this is even better If it's group of three or four, because a group of three or four, it's very easy to sidle up next to a one person and say, Oh, hey, what are you talking about? That's actually an easier way. So I actually prefer to approach groups of three or four, sometimes two people. It's harder to interject on. What I always try to do is catch their eye from a Sfar away as possible. So if you see an open book pair, you actually don't want approach over someone's shoulder behind their back. That doesn't give them time and space to go. Oh, someone's approaching. You're better off trying to approach from far across the room after I line and try to catch their eye. Like as if you're saying I'm coming. I'm coming. I'm coming in towards you. That actually warms them up to know that someone is about Teoh approach and you should be welcoming to them.


Amy Riordan:   9:27

All right. I love these. This is great. This already makes you feel a little bit more confident, like I could possibly handle it.


Vanessa Van Edwards:   9:34

Yes, yes, yes. Great.


Amy Riordan:   9:35

So tell me a little bit more about about body language.


Vanessa Van Edwards:   9:39

So I've always been fascinated by body language because I read early on in my research that it's very hard toe lie with your body that liars are focused a lot on their words right there, trying to convince you of something. Whereas it's very, very hard to control our nonverbal. It's hard to lie with our hands. It's hard to live with our body. It's really hard to control our micro expressions. And so I've always been a truth seeker, and that's I think, by the way, if you're listening to this and you're like, yes, truth seeker, there certainly will just have that in their heart. You just seek out vulnerability and truth and you love it I'm very addicted to raw, vulnerable almost, Um, like verbal vomit kind of kind of conversations I love like when it gets really riel. And so I've always been a truth seeker. And so when I discovered that body language could be this secret channel into truth, I just became totally addicted. I became totally I want to learn everything I possibly could about body language.


Amy Riordan:   10:38

So while we're talking about all the things that you've learned, what are some resource is I know specifically your book is definitely a huge resource. It's called Captivate the Science of Succeeding with people. And we'll be sure to link that below as well as people school, which again will link below. But what What did you do? Like, how did you How did you know where to start? And, uh, you know what resource is? Did you use that other people could learn from?


Vanessa Van Edwards:   11:04

Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you so much for mentioning captivating people. School? Absolutely. Those are kind of the synthesised versions, but if you want to dive into the originals, I really, really like getting textbooks going to the original source. And, um, there is a time period where a lot of the body language science started. It actually happened right after the presidential election between Nixon, Kennedy, And that was because, for the first time, body language was thrust in the public spotlight at the time during their presidential debate, not everyone in the population had televisions. So a portion of population listen to the debate on the radio and a portion of population. Listen to the debate on watch the debate on television, and everyone who watched the debate was absolutely sure that Kennedy won at. Everyone who listened to the debate was absolutely sure that Nixon one, and this was a huge surprise to the media. Teoh the population who was the first time in history there was discrepancy between who won the debate and this was the first time or people went. It must be by language. What was Kennedy doing in the 1st 30 seconds? Five minutes. What was he doing with his body? That made it seem like he was a winner? And I highly recommend if you have a few minutes, go into YouTube and type Nixon Kennedy presidential debate it up on YouTube for free watch the 1st 30 seconds, you will see such a stark difference. Kennedy is still. He's calm. He has almost no movement. All he does is one single head nod. That's it. During the entire 1st 30 seconds, Nixon is active. He moves his leg, He moves his hand. He moves his mouth. He grips the chair. He stands in a runner stance, which is when used to have one foot back, which, by the way, signals like readiness to leave. And we don't like that in our leaders. We like our leaders to be solid and comfortable. We don't want them to run out on us. He groups the chair, which is Ah, Fist is universal sign of anger, Um, or violence or aggression. So he's gripping the cherry. Think because he's nervous, but it comes across his aggression. And then he has this very jerky, non this very jerky head movement, which makes him seem unsure and nervous. All of those things make you were watching Go Oh, he's a loser. We don't want to vote for him. Um, and that was when the academic community went What is going on here? And that's the start of a lot of body language. textbooks. And if you really want to dig into it, go get the textbooks for the fifties, the sixties, the seventies eighties and you will see you will see how the Bottling Ridge research has developed and changed. Like, for example, Albert Marais bian is a really famous research in the body language world. And in the 19 people in the 19 sixties he did a study, and he said, 93% of our communication is non verbal. 7% of our communication is verbal, and this rocked people's worlds. They were like, Oh my gosh, it's all body language. Words don't matter. And then many, many, many, many years later, he came out saying, You know, I think that that study was too limited and too flawed, and they haven't been able to replicate it. And that was because in that study they just used one word. So of course, the word didn't matter as much. And so the reason why, if you really want to get into look, I will. I summarize it all for you in captivate er on my website. But if you want to get into, like the beginnings of our curiosity, a violin which I would say start with the textbooks and work their way to the current day.


Amy Riordan:   14:43

Excellent. So sidebar curiosity. Does knowing body language this well bother you when it comes to watching television shows? Yes, yes, yes. I don't know if I'd be able to handle that like knowing, like factors acting, but not fully. If they're like, you know, looking away from the, you know, turned away from their boyfriend or their TV boyfriends. Well, two things


Vanessa Van Edwards:   15:09

here is one I wouldn't say the word bothers. The word I've used, I would say, makes TV more interesting and what's interesting. I have a theory, and this is my own personal theory that the actors that everyone hates actually are very bad at body language, like the reason they bother us is because they'll say that their character is angry. But they're doing the wrong facial expression for anger. And so people think like my brain doesn't like them. That's one of my theories, is that we don't like actors that get the emotions wrong. Um, and the second thing is that reality television is very interesting, because I can typically predict how much of a show is scripted versus Riel based on accuracy of facial expressions and non verbal. And in a way, I will be totally honest. This has benefited me tremendously because I'm in a bachelor fantasy league for the backswing. Best threat. I went a lot of money playing because I read all the facial expressions and it makes it so much better.


Amy Riordan:   16:05

That's awesome. I am totally game for those kind of pools. I need to get more involved with this body language stuff. Yes. So you talk a lot about likeability. I'm curious. What are your, like, top? Go to things to tell people If you have to quickly explain how to be more likable, You know,


Vanessa Van Edwards:   16:23

I will actually focus on one thing, because I, uh I'll do two things because there these are the two most important things for likability. One is that we tend to withhold our liking. And the most likeable thing about us is that we like other people. What I mean by that is we tend to not want to be the first Laker. If we meet someone, we want them to show us that they like us before we're willing to like them. Were afraid of being rejected. We do this totally subconsciously is the first thing is we like people who like us. So the earlier on that you could make it very clear that you like someone like working with them like being with them, like talking to them. The more likable you become, the better you make them feel on, the more likable they become. So I have very frequently if I genuinely feel this way only, of course, if I am having an enjoyable commerce patient, I will say, Man, it's so fun talking to you. If I see a friend who I adore, I'll be like, Oh, I missed you so much. I always love talking to you. You always make me laugh. Anyone I worked with on my team, I regularly Intel team members. Oh, you always have such a great job with these projects. Thank you so much. I love working with you on these types of projects. I love working with you on the types of tests. So the more you could be the 1st 2nd and third Leiker, the better. The second thing is, you're always wanting to look for me to moments, and I talk about this a lot in captivate where the more you can feel like you, your choices are rights and correct and good. The better you feel about yourself. And the way that we feel that way is when other people have similar choices and decisions to us. So if someone says, Oh, yeah, I've been watching, um, the show 100 humans on Netflix and you've been watching and you like it. That is the perfect opportunity to say, Oh, my gosh, I love that show to it so good. Because in that moment you're validating what they just shared with you and they're going to know you better.


Amy Riordan:   18:15

OK, excellent. So tell me a little bit about what's next for you. I want to know. Are you writing another book or what are you working on right now? Are you allowed to say Oh,


Vanessa Van Edwards:   18:25

yeah. I'm always allowed to say so. My goodness captivate came out and I will tell you, it totally shocked me to my core. I I thought it would do kind of Well, I thought you would find the right people and it would be this nice little book that made people feel good and gay. people, you know, really nice action sex. I never expected the kind of adoption that is it has had. And so that scares me a little for a second book because I feel like there's so much pressure. You know, our YouTube channel just hit 30 million views and no, yeah, you know, what could I put out that would help people just as much as captivating. So I'm not working on another book. But I am doing a lot more writing and filming for YouTube because the one thing I want I like to do for my books is put out as much free content as I possibly can see how they will react to it, have them use the tips and then come back to me with their case studies. So basically, I'm always kind of secretly working on a book because I am testing the tips. So, like, for example, we just put out a huge master guide on video calls. Those air, some of them are science back. Some of them are personal anecdotes. Some of them are ideas that we've been trying in the next three months will have hundreds of thousands of people watched that video test. Those tips email me case studies and then I'll keep whatever is the most potent. And that would eventually maybe going to other book.


Amy Riordan:   19:51

Well, I'm definitely looking forward to another book, and I haven't even read the 1st 1


Vanessa Van Edwards:   19:54

I'm hoping that everyone who's listening if you're willing to recap it wonderful, but also if you're willing to read my recent stuff and then tell me if it works, if it doesn't work, give me feedback. That would be amazing.


Amy Riordan:   20:05

All right, well, if you could leave my listeners with one last thing, what would it be?


Vanessa Van Edwards:   20:10

I would say it's really hard to be likeable if you don't like yourself, And that took me a very long time. To realize is that I could learn all the body language techniques in the world. I could learn all the likable strategies and conversation, but I had to work on having enough confidence to be okay, approaching people to feel like I had enough interesting things to talk about. And so here, listen to this, and there's something you can do. Teoh like yourself to build up your own, Um, are Moi of confidence. I would do that first.


Amy Riordan:   20:41

What are you doing during this craziness?


Vanessa Van Edwards:   20:45

Yeah. So, actually, you know, a lot of our content is about body language and handshakes and networking events and trade shows, which is not very applicable when everyone social distancing. And so, um, the one thing that I've been really, really trying to do is shift are content to a more virtual world which eventually social syncing will end. But I do think that will change us for a long time about being more virtual. And so we've been pumping out content on everything digital, everything, virtual to help people as they are living their lives at home and online.


Amy Riordan:   21:17

Excellent. Well, I'm glad that you're doing that. We're definitely gonna be looking for content. And like I said, it will have everything linked below. I hope that you're taking care of yourself in that you stay healthy. Oh, thank you so much. Thank


Vanessa Van Edwards:   21:30

you so much for having me. Everyone stay healthy. Stay Well.


Amy Riordan:   21:32

Thanks, Vanessa by 


Amy Riordan:   21:35

Amy Riordan is a weekly podcast brought to you by me,  Amy Riordan. Love this podcast? Leave me review and share it with friends. You can also find me on social media. Subscribe to this podcast for all new episode notifications. With questions, topic requests or interviewee nominations, visit AmyRiordan.com. Curious about specific content mentioned in each episode? Those details are linked below.

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