Expert Q&A With

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., president of Kinsey Consulting Services, is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and leadership consultant. Clients include 105 organizations in 24 countries - corporate giants such as Consolidate Edison, Royal Bank of Canada and PepsiCo; major non-profit organizations such as the American Institute of Banking, the Healthcare Forum and the American Society of Training and Development; high-tech firms such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments; membership organizations such as The Young Presidents' Organization and The Conference Board; government agencies such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, and the Library of Congress; and international firms such as Petroleos de Venezuela, Dairy Farm in Hong Kong, and Wartsilla Diesel in Finland.

Carol is a leadership blogger for Forbes, an expert contributor to the “On Leadership” column for the Washington Post, and a business body language columnist for the Market magazine. She has authored eleven books, including "This Isn't the Company I Joined,” about leadership in a constantly changing organization, "Ghost Story," a business fable about the power of knowledge sharing, and "The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work." Her latest book is "The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can help – or Hurt How You Lead.”

A leading authority on leadership, change-management, collaboration, and body language in the workplace, Carol has been sited in media such as The Wall Street Journal, Industry Week, Investors Business Daily, CNN's Business Unusual, SmartBrief on Leadership, Executive Excellence,, NPR’s Marketplace, Fox News, and the NBC Nightly News.

Body language has always played a key role in Carol's professional life. Prior to founding Kinsey Consulting Services, she was a therapist in private practice - reading nonverbal cues to help her clients make rapid and profound behavioral changes. As an executive coach, Carol helps leaders build powerful and effective business relationship by aligning their verbal and nonverbal communication to project confidence, credibility, and empathy.

Carol has served as adjunct faculty at John F. Kennedy University in the International MBA program, at U.C. Berkeley in the Executive Education Department, for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States at their Institutes for Organization Management – and is a current faculty member with the Institute for Management Studies.

What was your inspiration for your book The Silent Language of Leaders?

My interest in body language started long before I gave speeches or coached leadership communications. In training for my previous occupation as a therapist in private practice, I learned to pay close attention to nonverbal signals. In doing so, I became aware of the way body language can underscore what a person is saying, but can also undermine, or even contradict it. When very relaxed, people had certain ways of entering my office and certain physical positions that they assumed. But when they were concerned or unconvinced, their postures and expressions changed dramatically. I also saw that quite often their body language was in direct opposition to their words, and I learned to trust the subliminal messages from their bodies as much as, or more than, their verbal responses. Soon it became second nature to “decode” body language cues and to use what I discovered to help people overcome internal resistance and to make positive changes in their lives.

But when I started to coach executives and managers, I was surprised to find how unfamiliar business people were with nonverbal communication. For the past twenty years, I've studied and been awed by the impact of body language on leadership results. I've seen first-hand how nonverbal signals can literally make or break a leader’s success. I also saw that most leaders were nonverbally illiterate - completely out of touch with the effect their body language had on others and unaware of the clear nonverbal signals that were being sent by clients and colleagues in every business encounter. The human brain is hard-wired to read and respond to these signals, but most leaders don’t know that the process is taking place and are unequipped, therefore, to use it to their advantage.

Who influenced you to pursue a career in body language?

Milton Erickson who was an extraordinary American psychiatrist specializing in medical hypnosis. He was also a genius in reading and utilizing nonverbal signals for therapeutic purposes.

Which body language gestures should one use when wanting to influence someone?

That depends on what you want to influence them to do. I tell my executive clients to work backwards: First – what do you want to achieve? Then – how can you use your body language to help you reach that goal? For example, the body language signals that a leader might use to facilitate a collaborative session with her team (signals of warmth, empathy, and inclusion) are not the same signals that would be appropriate if that leader wanted to ask her boss for a raise. For this kind of meeting, she would want to appear confident and credible.

So a head tilt (a signal of listening – “giving someone your ear”) would be very effective for encouraging people to speak up in the collaborative meeting. But, since it is also a sign of submission, the head tilt would work against her looking secure and confident when asking for a raise.

Which body language gestures should one avoid during a job interview?

Rather than focus on gestures to avoid, here is a link to a recent Forbes blog on “10 Body Language Tips to Help You Land That First Job,” which is applicable for any job interview.

Body language is full of myths. Which would you say is the biggest?

I think the biggest myths are around deception detection (like “liars avoid eye contact”).

How does having a deep understanding of non-verbal communication affect your private life?

It makes family parties a lot more interesting!

What are your plans for the rest of 2012?

I’m working on a new book, and have speaking engagements throughout the United States and in London and Edinburgh.

Learn More

Click Here to visit Carol Kinsey Goman's website.

A guide for using body language to lead more effectively:

Aspiring and seasoned leaders have been trained to manage their leadership communication in many important ways. And yet, all their efforts to communicate effectively can be derailed by even the smallest nonverbal gestures such as the way they sit in a business meeting, or stand at the podium at a speaking engagement.

In The Silent Language of Leaders, Goman explains that personal space, physical gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact communicate louder than words and, thus, can be used strategically to help leaders manage, motivate, lead global teams, and communicate clearly in the digital age.

  • Draws on compelling psychological and neuroscience research to show leaders how to adjust their body language for maximum effect.
  • Stands out as the only book to address specifically how leaders can use body language to increase their effectiveness.
  • Goman, a respected management coach, is widely considered as the expert in body language issues in the workplace.

The Silent Language of Leaders will show readers how to take advantage of the most underused skills in the leadership toolkit - nonverbal skills - to improve their credibility and stay ahead of the curve.

See following link for full details.

The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help--or Hurt--How You Lead

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