When I was in college I signed up to attend a “meeting” to learn about summer jobs that supposedly paid the big bucks. In hindsight I should have known it would be a pitch.
I entered the conference room eager and open-minded. Yet as the perky young woman began her presentation, I quickly realized that she was pitching us the same door-to-door book-selling gig that my friend had wasted an entire summer on.
He’d spent ten miserable weeks knocking on doors in Detroit, and had come away with less than $500. Needless to say, I was less than delighted when I realized that I had sentenced myself to an hour of listening to “a business opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs.”
But I was raised with good manners, so I kept my opinions to myself.
Imagine my shock when 5 minutes into her presentation, she paused her pitch and said, “Lisa, if you’re not comfortable you can just leave.”
Every head in the room turned toward me. I wanted to sink into the carpet. How could she have known? I hadn’t said a word. But she did know, and she had no hesitancy in calling me out.
With twenty other slack-jawed students staring at me, I could feel my blood turn cold. I blundered through some sort of reply, shoved my notebook into my backpack and hastily left the conference room, stumbling over the door jam on my way out.
I rushed out of the building so embarrassed I could barely breath. By the time I made it to the sidewalk, the ice in my veins had turned to fire and my face was beet red. I was halfway back to my dorm before I had even begun to process what happened.
Later that night I called my dad. The big question for me was: How did she know? Was she some kind of voodoo mind reader or a psychic? How could she have possibly known, and furthermore how dare she embarrass me in front of everyone?
My dad laughed and said, “Oh, she knew what you were thinking alright and she responded accordingly.”
She’s not alone.
We subconsciously pick up on the mental messages that we get from others. And what’s more, the unconscious messages that we get from other people have a dramatic impact on the way we respond to them, whether we – or they – realize it or not.
We might not all be as skilled or forthright as my college presenter, but we unconsciously respond to the mental messages we get from others.
For example, if your spouse walks in the door looking depressed or annoyed, does it affect the way you interact with him?
What happens if your boss sits silently brooding at her desk? Does it impact the overall mood of the office?
What if the client you hoped to land starts straightening her papers and putting your proposal back into her folder? Do you think, “Oh, she’s putting the papers in a tidy pile?” More likely you don’t register it consciously, but your gut starts to tighten as you find yourself getting nervous and anxious.
You can delude yourself into believing that other people don’t know what’s going on inside your head. And on a conscious level you might be right. But on a subconscious level, you’re transparent.
We all are.
The critical question is: What is your internal talk track revealing about you?