Looking back at 2015, one of the most profound times I had was at the Body Language Institute this summer with Janine Driver and her team
The two and a half day workshop was informational and transformative and it can take a while to process that kind of experience.
When I first saw Janine Driver at the ‘Lean On – Woman’s Conference’, I was immediately blown away by how she captured the audiences’ attention with her authentic, dynamic presence. Before she even launched into sharing her experience as a former FBI agent working with the ATF I could tell that I was going to learn some interesting things about body language and be entertained in the process. My first impression most definitely held true. At the end of the hour long class Janine announced that the people she’d interacted with would receive a scholarship to her 3 day extended workshop and I was thrilled to be on that list.
Flash forward a couple of months to the end of May, and I was on my way to Ogunquit, Maine. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the BLI (Body Language Institute) program, from the description I knew it would be a small group and that it would include a few different ways of learning. The hours were a bit daunting (6 hours the first evening followed by two 12 hour days) but it was obvious it would be worth it. Not only would the content be compelling, but as someone who’s moving more into the corporate sphere I was also interested in the logistics of how Janine runs these multi-day events.
The mix of participants was great, and brought together a group of people who may have never interacted otherwise. A mother and her 13 year old daughter, a couple of men from the local sheriffs department plus a half a dozen other men & woman of different ages, backgrounds and interests. By the end of the weekend it felt like we had known each other much more than three days!
The first evening we jumped right into the content, some of which Janine had touched briefly upon at the woman’s conference. She has a lot of catchy phrases to help remember key points such as:
- “Frame yourself to fame yourself” = when you stand in a doorway or in the middle of a group you are “framed” and therefore positioned in a visually more powerful way.
- “When you steeple people you intimidate people” – holding your hands in a “steeple” position makes you appear more authoritative and powerful.
One of my favorite logistical set ups, was that we didn’t do our personal introductions until the last hour of the night. Janine focused on the content including some group activities that allowed us all to interact before knowing anything about each other. Of course we shared names, but so often at group training’s the first hour is spent going around the room with each person giving their personal elevator pitch. It’s not a very dynamic start and sets up pre-conceived notions about each person in the room. So getting us to interact and build our own first impressions, the result was that by the time we “introduced ourselves” there was already a sense of group support and connection. It’s impressive that such a small shift in the schedule can create such a big impact.
In the months since the intensive there have been numerous times I’ve thought back to what I learned that weekend. Two of the most useful take-aways for me were:
- Assign people the traits you want people to have – rather than saying “Don’t be a liar” say “I know you’ll be honest with me.” One of my big soap boxes is that language matters and the words we use affect the message that is ultimately received.
- Crossing my arms across my chest doesn’t indicate that I’m disinterested or closed off. This body language myth has always been said accusingly against me because when I’m thinking or deeply considering something I’ll often cross my arms and I’ve been told it comes across as cold. But for some people (including me apparently!) it can also be a physical indicator that both sides of the brain are working together.
As part of keeping the training lively and varied, Christopher Ulrich joined us to do fun improvisational exercises. After many years in theater during high school and college, I personally love improv, it’s fun, spontaneous and high energy. It was touching to see my classmates loosen up with the guided play.
I also have to give a shout out to the other BLI Team member, Mark, who was a constant cheerleader for everyone in the class. He had gone through the program (as well as the next level up) and was truly a ray of sunshine the whole time!
I’m still processing all of my own experience and the huge amount of information I learned. I’ve been fascinated with body language and non-verbal communication for most of my life and have done quite a bit of studying on my own. It was incredibly validating to hear that much of what Janine was teaching is what I’ve observed through-out my life and built my personal philosophy around. It was an inspiring three days, and if you have any interest in learning how to “read people” or how to spot a liar you should definitely attend one of Janine’s intensives or buy her books!
You Say More Than You Think! Use New Body Language To Get What You Want! – by Janine Driver
Thank you Mark Call for the image!