Think back to a business meeting with a difficult client. You worked to stay calm but frustrations only grew. Brows furrowed, toes crinkled and palms sweated. Nobody talked about the tension, but it was palpable.
Physiological cues are your body’s way of showing what’s really on your mind. When you’re stressed, tired or overexcited, it shows. The way you interact with the rest of the world through your physical being is an outward expression of your inner self.
Doing business is a practice in the art of self-awareness -- of being able to carefully manage your strengths and weaknesses and clearly articulate the expression of who you are. By refining this art, you can cultivate a balanced sense of self that will propel your business forward and close future business deals.
Here is how to do it.
Repeat after me: Feldenkrais.
The Feldenkrais Method is the one tool that’s had the greatest impact on my life. A somatic educational system developed by Moshé Feldenkrais, it promotes wellbeing by improving the practitioner’s self-awareness.
What’s beautiful about Feldenkrais is that it enables you to unpack the physiological manifestations of your emotional landscape.From a place of appreciation and non-judgment, you begin to unravel the representation of stress and anxiety so you can breathe easier, hold less tension in your body and speak calmly. Doing so shifts your attitude toward a more positive, open and capable sense of self.
When you realize the power of your choices, people will begin to feed off your energy. Here are a few strategies:
Slow down and actually listen.
As someone who has spent the past two years working on my certification in "Awareness Through Movement," my Feldenkrais teacher, David Zemach-Bersin, once said, “The tortoise wins the race.” The phrase isn’t novel, but the idea is worth considering. You don’t have to move at breakneck speeds to be successful; you don’t have to sacrifice your personal wellbeing for ROI. If you take a different attitude about pace, you’ll find the rewards are far greater.
Don’t think about your next meeting or what you want to say when the investor finishes speaking. Instead, give the person your full attention and, as I often say, “be here now.”
As you converse, consider the emotions your body is conveying. Are you maintaining an open stance and eye contact? Or are you closing yourself off and making the other person feel uncomfortable? Are you aware of your physical expressions? Feldenkrais can help with this.
Appreciate the art of the sale.
A sale is like a dance: The best dancers express their motivations and desires eloquently and accurately in a state of constant improvisation, even with some of the most intricate choreographed steps.
Related: 3 Signs You Are Becoming Successful
When you enter a sales meeting, take a moment to suspend your ego and evaluate the situation. Pay attention to how you communicate with your whole being, and interact by “standing still yet always being able to move.”
This requires you to be aware of the complex environment of egos and personalities through verbal and nonverbal cues while also staying true to your personality and the elements of your sales pitch. This takes practice, but it will make you a more present person.
Stop saying 'should.'
Trying to meet the perceived expectations of others -- rather than focusing on who you are and what you’re best at -- is a wasteful pursuit of someone else’s excellence. Achieve your own sense of excellence by eliminating “should” from your vocabulary. As soon as I did, life became so much easier; I achieved a greater sense of productivity and self-worth.
Entrepreneurs certainly face seemingly insurmountable challenges when working toward their goals. And it’s so easy to look around at great business leaders and say, “Why don’t I try what they did?” There’s nothing wrong with seeking examples and learning from people who came before you, but don’t think that you should do anything.
Again, think back to the Feldenkrais Method: When it comes to leadership, there’s no one right way to do things. Instead, discover your own recipe for success.
Perhaps the greatest (and most important) challenge is how to harness the self-awareness necessary to navigate a complex environment with emotional intelligence. Follow the Feldenkrais way to cultivate patience, humility and self-awareness to master the life of business.