Body Language For Leaders, with Scott Rouse, Ep #54
Play • 47 min

When it comes to being an effective leader and developer of other leaders, there are no better skills to learn than those centering around body language - you could say this post is about “body language for leaders.” It’s a powerful skill set that can be used to bring greater clarity to conversations, to gain deeper insight into people, and to make work mutually meaningful in all kinds of ways.

My guest on this episode is Scott Rouse, a leading expert in body language and non-verbal communication. Scott’s skills in this area were honed through a path of intentional education about the things that make non-verbal communication so powerful - both positively and negatively. 

Keep reading to learn more about how body language can be used by leaders to amplify the meaning of work, invest in team members, and make the workplace a more fulfilling environment.

An early experience in observation and body-language skills

Scott Rouse remembers growing up in a community where his father was one of the only doctors. He watched, literally in awe, as his father demonstrated mastery of observation and non-verbal communication. The way he helped his patients cope with illness and enjoy a happier experience even in a physician’s office was remarkable.

Scott tells an amazing story of sharing lunch with his father during a visit to his father’s office at the small hospital where he worked. When Scott - then 6 years old - noticed two classmates in the waiting room, he asked his father why they were there. His father explained the reason each of them was in the waiting room - including one who was feigning illness because he didn’t want to go to school. That doesn’t sound so amazing until you learn that his father had yet to see or speak to either of them.

It was his father’s methodical explanation of how he was able to read their body language and the clues that were apparent in their mothers’ demeanors that convinced Scott that the “magic” of non-verbal communication and observation was something he wanted to learn for himself.

Join me for this episode to hear more of Scott’s incredible stories and his advice on how you can learn to observe body language for the purpose of enhancing the quality of your team relationships and workplace interactions.

The medical profession once understood the importance of bedside manner

As an adult, Scott Rouse was diagnosed with cancer and everything in his life changed, even his career. He didn’t turn to a different career because of limitations forced by his illness, he made the switch intentionally because of a negative experience he had in his Doctor’s office while receiving treatment. That experience revealed that Scott had something valuable to offer the medical profession. He would go on to help medical practitioners swept up in the technological and “big business” nature of the medical profession get back to a people-first approach to patient care.

Body language for leaders is about caring for followers, not manipulation

Scott’s story is inspiring simply because he is an example of someone who saw a way he could make a particular industry better for those it served and took action to do so. The same could be said for you as a leader - no matter what industry you are in. The influence you have as a leader can be used for good, to make your workplace into an environment where those you lead are happy to be and enthused to return to.

You can learn body language and the power of observation to enhance your ability to listen, understand, and lead the people under your care. Eye contact, appropriate touch, empathetic facial expressions, and more are skills you can master so that you can build up the people you lead, encourage their progress and growth, and establish a rapport that pays dividends in your working environment and in the lives and ongoing career success of those you lead.

One caution: Don’t buy the myths surrounding body language

Hollywood has contributed to the myths people believe about what can be discerned through body language, So have many badly researched blog posts and news stories. Leaders need to know the truth about body language skills so they can make decisions that are truly informed and beneficial to their organizations and teams.

The main thing to keep in mind is this, no matter how skilled you become at picking up on non-verbal signals and observing body language, it’s still not going to be an exact science. You are dealing with people, not machines or animals that function according to instinct alone. People are complicated and can’t be “figured out” that simply. Do what you can to learn body language clues and use them for good. But don’t use them as a tool to quickly label or diagnose things going on in your work environment. The relationships with the people you lead are based on much more than that - and true leadership is rooted in the relationships you have with those you lead.

Outline of This Episode
  • [3:16] How a cancer diagnosis changed the trajectory of Scott’s career
  • [13:39] The fulfillment of helping people avoid fearful situations in the medical profession
  • [17:07] Brain chemistry’s effects on body language and perceptions
  • [23:43] When body language doesn’t match what’s being said
  • [27:40] Discerning sincerity through body language
  • [34:20] The common misconceptions about understanding body language
Resources & People Mentioned Connect with Scott Rouse Connect With Bruce

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