What You See Often Overrides What You Hear

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Surprised blonde holds a magnifying glass in front eye. Wonder y
We are often taught in communicating with clients that our body language has a profound effect on the way the message is interpreted. The non-verbals are read by the client and often overrides the words that we hear.

For example, if you ask someone if they feel confident about giving a presentation and they say ‘yes’, but then you see them gulp, breathe heavily, have sweaty palms, clear their throat, avoid eye contact and show other signs of nervousness, what would you think?

You would probably assume that the body reactions tell you more about the real feelings of that person than the actual words they say.

Scientists have observed this phenomenon many times and have proved that what we see often has greater power over our beliefs than what we hear.  There is an experiment known as the McGurk Effect that shows how and why this is the case.

Watch the video below to see the McGurk effect in action:

The effect is puzzling, because our the visual part of our brain will take over our beliefs about what is right or wrong from most, if not all, of the other parts. In other words, what we see makes a bigger impression than all other senses.

Having watched it, think about the impact that this could have on the communication you have with your prospects.

  • They may subconsciously judge you by what you are wearing
  • They may ask you a question and take your lack of eye contact to mean you don’t have confidence in what you say
  • They may see your website and draw conclusions on your whole service by what they see on the first page
  • They may see your product fail to produce the results you promised and make assumptions about all your products because of it
  • They may see a miss-match in other areas of your body language and actually believe what they see rather than what they hear

All this means we have to be very careful about the impression we make with our prospects and clients, as what they see may override what they hear.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training


450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 22 August, 2013