Communication, connections about much more than body language

Relying on how we manage our physical actions isn't enough
By Trish Maguire
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/18/2016

Have you ever wondered how you could be more effective in gaining the upper hand in a conversation, engaging and winning people’s attention, having your ideas heard and understood, even perhaps standing out from the crowd — all without saying a word? At a recent SCN event, we had the opportunity to experience for ourselves Mark Bowden’s zeal and unique approach for helping us do just that. 

Mark brings an energizing perspective to how people can and do relate to each other on the physical level.

His journey in becoming a noted body language, behaviour and communication expert started with a university degree in performance in the United Kingdom, with continued studies in the gesture control methods of Jacques Lecoq’s Laboratory of Movement in Paris.

With these skills, he worked with some of the world’s most groundbreaking theatre companies, appeared in multi-award-winning stage and screen productions globally, and trained internationally recognized actors and directors.

No surprises in discovering that Mark is not only an expert in his field, he’s also a highly entertaining and engaging speaker. He’s eager to show practical tools and simple strategies that can help us better manage ourselves and others in achieving whatever we want to achieve or not.

Learning how easily, inadvertently and unconsciously we can send the wrong message to others with our body language is a first step.

Although Mark shared a variety of easy-to-do strategies to help people project greater confidence and enthusiasm, and gain greater rapport and influence, the challenge is that some of the techniques verged on the superficial and potentially manipulative.

I agree it’s interesting to be aware of the negative impact a person risks by remaining behind the podium and reading straight from written notes.

I can also see the benefits of knowing that sitting at a table resting your head or chin in your hands, or concealing your mouth, can create negative perceptions or feelings for others.

Nevertheless, I’m really unclear as to how the tools address and change some of our core human behavioural traits and learned habits.

Unquestionably, Mark proves the power of body language and references the role the brain plays in managing our physical actions.

However, body language alone does not necessarily help people to fully connect and communicate with people more meaningfully or authentically. 

By contrast, if we look at the science behind neuromanagement practices, we have the opportunity to learn how to become more effective with complexity, ambiguity, creativity and innovation.

If so inclined, we can also learn why we do things and find out what we need to start doing differently. 

All things considered, if we are truly interested in being more effective at tapping people’s inherent motivation, releasing their full potential, improving relations and increasing engagement, relying on how we manage our physical actions is not enough.

If we want to gain a more meaningful, purposeful understanding of what’s driving people’s behaviour in our workplaces, it’s going to take more than pure body language.

Trish Maguire is a commentator for SCNetwork on leadership in action and founding principal of Synergyx Solutions in Nobleton, Ont., focused on high-potential leadership development coaching. She has held senior leadership roles in human resources and organizational development in education, manufacturing and entrepreneurial firms. She can be reached at

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