Eye and Hand Co-ordination: More Than Child’s Play

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By Toy Odiakosa — www.ela-consulting.com

A child’s lessons in eye and hand co-ordination (“EHC”) may be a cute developmental activity, but are there applications in business?  I recently asked myself—where are my eyes during my favorite game of golf, tennis, skiing.  If, like many people, your eyes look where the player is looking then the below could be interesting.

This note effectively predicts what the impact of your message will be, based on how you use your eye and hand co-ordination to focus your listeners’ attention.  As an effective speaker you will almost certainly demonstrate the idea that your listeners look where you are looking.  According to research1, we can predict that the listener (“L”) follows the speaker’s (“S”) eyes and the 3 diagrams below show how.  Diagram 1 shows how we non-verbally signal to a listener to “look at me”. Diagram 2 shows how we follow the sports person’s eyes.  Diagram 3 transposes the concept of following the lead person’s eyes, from the sports field and demonstrates its practical application during pitches and high stakes meetings, where your listener’s focus may be more usefully directed away from you and to relevant data.

Ifyou look at a person and speak, they will most likely look back at you to hear what you are saying and you are the object of the listener’s interest2.

In a sporting event the observer, you, is one point of focus, the sportsman is the second, the third point of focus is the ball.  During play the ball holds the player’s attention maximally to becomethe most important object point of focus.

The classic mistake in using a visual aidis to put up a slide, turn your back on it and, face the audience to begin speaking.  In this scenario the listener is disallowed from reading the slide –because you are looking at them (diagram 1above) with the result that the listener’s focus is split. A practical guide for usefully shifting the listener’s focus away from you and towards another point of focus is to use of eye and hand co-ordinationeffectively.

Speakers who use slides effectively have been known to put the slide upand look at it silently for a few seconds, allowing listeners to read.  We also know that they often use those few seconds to refocus their breathing since no eyes are on them and their back is to the audience.  They can then return to the listeners with the advantage of having had a mini-pause for breath. The research shows significant increase in message stickiness and impact for the listener. An effective chairman turns to the page in document and makes their point as they look at the material for a few seconds.

If the advantages of EHC in pitches and meetings is obviousthen does the concept extend to the dinner table?
As an executive coach I am blessed with clients who are willing to test new behaviours in the real world.  They may initially wince under the pangs of jealousyand fear, but only for as long as it takes to extract whatever information the wounds might hold. Then they quickly move on. In this world my clients do not need to mask the feelings that are the expressions of themselves just because are still testing out how to satisfyingly express them.  Just one method of accessingbehaviours that are the authentic manifestation of they is through non- verbal interaction. When my client says they want their listener paying attention to the topic rather than to them, I get them practicing their eye and hand co-ordination. When a client says they want to reduce the number of eyes on them…ditto.

1 The Elusive Obvious by Michael Grinder
2 The Elusive Obvious by Michael Grinder

ELA Consulting is an executive coaching practice serving senior level people

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