Networking with Sub-Texting


Gail Stolzenburg

Would you agree that most people make the decision about continuing the conversation with you in the first few seconds? Then, would you also agree with me that most people are greatly influenced by what you do and what you say in those first few seconds? There are some unspoken signals called sub-tests we are sending everytime we communicate.

The word “sub-text” is used to describe words or actions used during your conversation which were never announced explicitly, but carried an underlying or explicit meaning, which the other  person  understood and which affected the another persons feelings or emotions. It is an indirect way of communicating, but  is a very vital part of our communication method. We all use sub-testing every day in many ways.

Physical gestures such as movement of your eyes, smiling (mouth & eyes), eye contact, using your hands, or the poistion of your body can communicate a variety of signals to your listener.The key to effective communications is mastering tonality and body signals. Have you ever had someone look away when they see you approaching? What did that communicate to you?  How did you feel? Rather than being born with Sub-texting abilities, they are something we learn over time. They have more effect than the words you are using and can reverse the impression you are trying to create.

One of the best sources on networking is the “Networking Times” magazine published by Bob Proctor, a networking legend. A recent issue has an article by Gina Barrett entitled, “Is Sub-Text Dominating Your Communications”  where Gina says:

“In business (networking), subtext can be influenced by multiple factors: relationships, gender, age, appearance, power dynamics, yesterday’s meeting. The question is, “What is driving a conversation?” Is it the words spoken, or the unspoken ways those words are expressed?  We can never, nor should we eliminate subtext, it is a vital part of our communication. To understand subtext, ask yourself 3 questions:

  • What is dominating the exchange, the words spoken or the subtext?
  • If the subtext dominates, is it undermining the exchange?
  • How can the unspoken be artfully brought into the conversation?”

Denis Waitley says we learn by observation, imitation, and repetition. Successful networkers spend 70% of their time listening and watching, so begin by becoming aware of the sub-texts during your conversation. Once we have identified a sub-text, we need to determine how it is affecting the conversation and what to do about it. If the affect is negative, the best action is to bring it up in a tactful non-aggressive way to dispel the effect.

Would it be helpful to learn how to identify the sub-text you are using during your communications? One of the ways to learn what people are hearing and seeing while  conversing with you is to video your conversations or just talk into a mirror. You may be surprised at what you learn. Another way is to ask them questions to see if you have understood their demeanor.

Earlier we mentioned sub-texting with eye contact. Always focus entirely on the person to whom you are talking, eliminate all other distractions, and be in the moment. Really listen and nod occassionally to let them know you are listening. And, as you will  read in Rod “The Storyteller” White’s new book “Sales Secrets of the Left Eye”, look into the person’s left eye. Doing this actually activates the person’s creativity and they become more open to what you are communicating to them. They also feel you are looking into both of their eyes. This is amazing. Try it.

A tool most effective communicators use is curiosity, which does a good job of difussing the sub-texts. For instance, when you meet someone, rather than introducing yourself as a “banker”, where they automatically assume they know what you do, you might ask, “Do you know how most people have  difficulty understanding the loan process? Well, what our clients do is use 3 easy steps to eliminate confusion”. The next question logicaly is “How do you do that” and the conversation continues.

So, during your next communication listen and look for the sub-texts, both the other persons and yours, and use your words and actions to work on being positive and eliminate being critical or hurtful.

See you at the next networking event!

Gail “The Connector” Stolzenburg

281 493 1955


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