One of the more memorable client meetings that I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate took place in late 1997 when a group of prominent Japanese entrepreneurs flew into Washington, DC to explore a possible joint venture with our sports management group. A team of five youthful, but impeccably dressed individuals, entered an elegant conference room atop a private club with a strong sense of purpose. Although, none of them spoke English,within a few seconds, we felt the impact of their presence.
One by one, they greeted each of us with warm smile, an appropriate handshake and the traditional Japanese Bow. Words didn’t matter that day, body language spoke volumes. They certainly had their A-game and were there with a clear sense of mission to get a deal done. For the next five or so hours, we had an inspired discussion around the how and why’s of connecting with their sports division. Despite not finding common ground, what I found most fascinating was the behavior of their king pin, who seemed to be the youngest of the bunch, but rarely said a word during the day. When asked a question, he would respond with a nod or a subtle twist of his head, but rarely a spoken word.
We didn’t know what to make of It, but it was as uncomfortable as it was intimidating – but, it left us with no question as to who was in charge. Since that day, I’ve made it a priority to pay attention to body, language because as Carol Goman says in her book, The Silent Language of Leaders, body language is in the eye of the beholder, here’s why….