How to Take Control – Two Minute Tip

What you do with your body affects how you think with your head.  Here is a simple way you can use this fact as a leader to get people’s attention and take control of a group.




Take Control

Hi, hey, could you come here for a minute – you need to hear this.  Good.  You know, when it is your time to be in charge of something, you want people to take notice and follow your lead.   Here’s a simple technique that you can use to get their attention and start off on the right foot.


The Effects of Overt Head Movement on Persuasion

In 1980 some psychologists published a study* that showed that simply having people nod their head up and down while listening to a radio editorial made them much more likely to agree with the speaker’s opinion.  Those who shook their heads from side to side were much more likely to disagree.*

This shows that a person’s physical movements directly affect their mental state.

How can this help you as a leader?  When it is time for you to take over, do something that causes a physical movement in your teammates.  Getting them to physically move in some way reinforces in their minds the fact that you are currently the leader and makes them more receptive to what you are planning to do next.

Putting it into Action

Here are several ways you can do that:

  • If you are starting a meeting, hand something out and have people pass it around, like an agenda
  • If you have been asked to come forward and speak to a group, immediately ask a question and ask for a show of hands or some other physical response
  • If you are the next speaker in a long line of speakers, get people to stand up and stretch for a moment
  • your team is part of a larger group meeting and there is designated time for your team to meet, move them to a different location, even if it’s just a little distance away.
  • As teammates arrive with equipment or supplies, show them where to put the gear.
  • When you need to say something to the team, have them gather in closely so they can hear

All of these actions cause people to physically move.  And those movements are their bodies responding to your directions.  As they do this, their brains are processing the idea that you are the leader.

The Takeaway

Here’s the takeaway:    There’s an old saying, “when in charge, take charge” – and that’s what this is all about.   Getting immediate movement will help get their notice, and fix in their brains the idea that you are the leader and they should pay attention.

And that’s your RapidStart Leadership Two-Minute Tip for the day.

* Gary L. Wells and Richard E. Petty, “The Effects of Overt Head Movement on Persuasion,” Basic and Applied Social Psychology (1980), vol. I, no. 3, pp. 219-230.
Photo Credit: slalit via Compfight cc

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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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