Whether we like it or not we are continually judging people by their appearance and the way that they behave. The old adage "never judge a book by its cover" is all well enough but we have evolved to do just that. In fact we are very good at judging on appearance and that is what has kept our species out of danger in the wilds for millennia.
If you want to get your message across and you want to have influence, first you have to get passed the gate keeper. Once you are trusted your message then has a chance at being heard and acted upon. Without that trust your audience will not even hear the words that you speak...
Our evolution has been long and fraught. Species have come and gone and we are developed from many. Our brains have evolved as well, but we still have many instincts that we developed for survival in the wild.
One such example is the “Fight or Flight” reaction to a situation. Just like more primitive animals we evaluate situations and continually ask “is it safe?” this kind of evaluation is happening in what some people call the reptilian or “Old Brain” the evolutionary one that served us so well for thousands of years.
The problem is that when we put ourselves in front of an audience our old brain senses danger. All these eyes looking at us, we have exposed ourselves and are in the open – hence the judgement that we are in danger.
Our old brain wants us to fight or flee, or possibly stand very still and not get noticed. This is the complete opposite of what our new reasoning brain wants. It is a rational more developed brain the “New Brain”. It’s the one that got us up here in the first place and it knows that we are in no danger.
So we have to overcome our old brain with the rational thinking of the new brain. Sometimes this is easier said than done. But over the following days you will learn to turn this nervousness into positive energy and overcome the old brain.
The old brain is very important in our audience too. As each member of our audience looks at us their old brains are also asking “is it safe?” They are looking at us and judging our performance to decide if they should trust us. If their old brain decides it does not like the look of us, it will not let our message in. This is the gate keeper at work.
To get passed the gate keeper we need to appear confident and have a consistent message across all our forms of communication. This is particularly important for the 67% of non verbal communication mentioned earlier.
If the 67% is wrong or inconsistent our audience will not even hear our message. The gate keeper will decide not to trust what we say so our words will not be taken in by the new brain – which is our real target audience.
The importance of this cannot be overemphasised. We must be believed to be heard. If we do not, we can fail before we even open our mouths.