As a motivational speaker on communication, I frequently talk about how we communicate nonverbally by gesturing with our head. And what does this gesture called nodding mean? If you are making a presentation to a prospect does their nodding mean they are ready to buy? Well, that may depend upon whether you are talking to a man or a woman.
While this is a generalization, the idea is that men nod to communicate agreement, while women nod to indicate they are listening. The problem arises when we interpret the nodding of someone of the opposite sex to mean what WE would mean.
Let's take the example of a male salesperson and a female customer. He is talking about his proposal. She is listening and while doing so, frequently nods (again, from her perspective, to communicate, "I'm listening. I'm with you.") He walks away from the presentation and tells his manager that it went really well. "She seems ready to buy!"
Whoops. Houston, we might have a problem.
Here's the bottom line. We simply need to be aware of the differences between how men and women communicate. As a woman, listening to a man espouse a point of view I don't necessarily agree with, I want to make certain that I keep my nodding to an absolute minimum. Or, if I am the salesperson talking to a male customer and he is NOT nodding, I mustn't think that he isn't listening, doesn't hear me or isn't interested.
And men, if a woman is talking to you, don't think that nodding to her while she's speaking will indicate agreement. She'll probably not interpret your nodding to mean that. More than likely she'll simply get the sense that you are tuned in and listening. And that builds rapport - a good thing! Conversely, if you are talking and she is nodding her head off, don't interpret that to mean she agrees. She could be simply letting you know that she is hearing you.
The bottom line is that by understanding what a gesture or piece of communication might mean to a person of the opposite sex, you can not only more accurately interpret what they are saying, but you can adjust your communication accordingly. It's called flexibility.
Are you with me? I can't see whether you are nodding or not...
About the Author
Linda Larsen, CSP, CPAE is a Hall of Fame Speaker, professional actress, best-selling author and serious lover of doggies. Linda speaks at conferences and meetings around the world, helping people bring the very best version of themselves to life every day! To talk to Linda about how she can contribute to the success of your next event, call 941-927-4700. Or go to Book Linda Now!