The amygdala is an almond shaped, one-inch long mass of nuclei, situated deep within the temporal lobes of the brain. The main function of amygdala is emotional and social processing. It processes and stores memories of emotional events and is also involved in current emotional responses.
On a rainy Tuesday evening (06/12) I learned that grabbing someone’s amygdala apparently can get deeper attention from your interviewer or give you an ability to impact people you’re presenting to. So says Gravitas Guru and executive coach Raleigh Mayer at the recent “Take Charge of Your Career: The Language of Power and Persuasion in the Workplace” event by the Urban Girl Squad and Barnard’s Athena Leadership Lab.
(For more on persuasive presentation and the amygdala, read “the Power of Communication” by Raleigh’s colleague Helio Fred Garcia.)
SO…the big question here is how exactly do we grab the amygdala and what does it even mean? With her straight talking, shrewd New York wit and humor, Raleigh proceeded to break down to us, attendees, how to step up our game with powerful and persuasive language.
A few quick points for those of us entering the work force or interviewing for summer positions summarized from Raleigh’s workshop :
We are YOUNG! People are not going to magically take us seriously.
Here are Raleigh’s 6 Elements of Impressions :
- Body Language
- Carriage (British for the way you carry yourself)
- Expression/ Engagement
During the course of the evening, she had a few people come up and introduce themselves. Everyone used their first name only. USE YOUR LAST NAME. Even if it’s 20 characters long. It creates a better first impression.
A quick note on Makeup: yes, apparently some women think they don’t need it. Even Victoria’s Secret supermodels need it. Why wouldn’t we all? (Neat hair, ironed clothes, Please people, it’s not college).
Think Polished and Articulate.
Then we learned that as women we are socially perceived to have the need to be liked, nurture others and play nice. Hence we apologize all the time, even when it’s not our fault. QUIT APOLOGIZING unless you stepped on someone’s toe or spilled coffee on their white shirt.
If you step in a conversation, say “I interrupted you go on.” Practice catching yourself saying I’m sorry and you’ll soon be a LESS APOLOGETIC person.
Another important point she brought up from her observation of the women trickling in to the event at the start was that women tend to speak with an upward inflection and end what’s supposed to be a statement or even a carefully though out opinion/fact with a question. This make you sound unsure of yourself. AVOID UPWARD inflection.
In line with this voice projection business, she talked about NOT SAYING HI. Why? Saying Hi has the tendency to sound sharp and almost squeaky, try saying “hello” or “good morning”/evening etc. Try it! We did and it made us sound a lot more CONFIDENT!
When it comes to engaging the crowds at a presentation or meeting, key words : Gesture, Gesture, Gesture!!
Raleigh cited a study showing how deliberately engaging the movement part of your brain through gesture has a direct positive correlation on the neurolinguistic parts! Move more = Speak Better !!
So back to how all this is going to grab the amygdala? Well, a solid presentation of both content and one’s physical self has the ability to reach deeper into the minds of the interviewer/coworkers thus allowing a more lasting and resonating impression.
Finally, the biggest mistake women in the workforce or entering the workforce make is being invisible. Sitting in the back of a meeting room, not speaking until one is spoken to, and not aggressively showing how you are the best person for the job and you must be hired are big no no’s that sadly continue to prevail. One must stand out and be visible to get a job or be promoted! Raleigh’s Language of Leadership proved pretty helpful.
Here is the secret formula:
Powerful Presence + Precise Communication + Positive Reputation = A Leader
Powerful Presence: posture, standing tall and firm, speaking loudly (yes, our version of loud isn’t that loud anyway) and standing out.
Precise Communication: Stop using disclaimers before you speak such as “like”, “maybe”, “I think”, “I’m not sure”, “I don’t know if this is relevant”. JUST CUT TO THE CHASE !!
Positive Reputation: Humor and smiling helps, continuity and consistency in speech (not repeating oneself or beating about the bush), being Friendly yet Firm can help shift away from being cast as typical office bitch or bimbo.
and last but not least……….
“TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, THE FIRST STEP IS TO TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY”
85 Broads Baruch, Vice-President
Editor in Chief 85Broads Baruch.com