Been back on the road this week. Traveling through airports always affords a lot of observation opportunities.Watched a few clips from CNN that appeared to be a Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. It’s probably worth noting that I really couldn’t delineate much of what any of them stand for (my politcal party is “None of the above”), and I was watching with no sound, so I have absolutely no idea what they were debating. But I found their appearances rather interesting.Mrs. Clinton spoke with a lot of passion. But she also used a lot of motion without purpose. Virtually every other word was punctuated with a hand gesture — pointing or pounding — and her eyes almost never lit on a single person. She flitted her eyes around. Her non-verbal communication looked like someone desperate to make a point, or perhaps losing an argument.Obama was the most collected of the three, but he displayed much less passion. He looked down pensively when he spoke, and also had nervous eyes that flitted about. But he had almost no lost motion. Every gesture was with purpose and his head did not bob about at all.Edwards is perhaps the most familiar to me, since I live just 30 miles and six million dollars away from him. He smiled a lot and developed a good bit of eye contact with specific people. But he shifted uneasily from time to time, and did not look comfortable.Supposedly these folks have a message that can change the country, and ultimately the world. But none of them was so polished in their delivery skills. I’ve always wondered why they don’t practice simple things more.The title of this blog is a poster child for what I witnessed. There is so much that audiences read between the lines. Politics is a brutal world, and until the 1960s, messaging was limited to in-person contact and written accounts. That changed in 1960, when a composed JFK went on TV to debate a sickly Richard Nixon. Soundbites and newspaper reports showed Nixon to have a better message. But those who saw the video saw a dapper JFK with a slick demeanor overtake his senior opponent and ultimately win the political prize.What message are you sending besides the one you intend? How is your perception and image hindering what you wish others to hear?
Make all your messages consistent.