Sensory Acuity

Sensory acuity goes beyond sharpening your eye sight. It's a phrase mostly used in NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) and describes how being aware of your surroundings with all your senses can impact your leadership and communication skills, among other things.

Effective non-verbal pacing can help resolve conflict 

When was the last time you paid attention to your body language, and that of the person you were talking with?

We're all generally involved, if not trapped, in our own little worlds. That's perfectly fine and normal. But when you're talking with others and actually want to make sure a correct and effective transmission of message is achieved, little things like posture have a big impact.

Situation: someone is coming at you yelling and arms flailing.

Try and resist the urge to also make yourself appear bigger. Standing up straighter and planting your feet in a wider stance indicates you're ready to engage, showing your strength.

Solution: drop your speaking volume to a reasonable level, open your arms and let them hang loosely by your sides, indicating willingness to communicate. This message will register subconsciously with the other person, and ideally they'll eventually try and match your stance and volume.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. Next time you enter a room, I invite you to try and pay attention to your surroundings. Check out how everyone is relating to one another. See the art on the wall. Is that wastepaper basket overflowing? How does the upholstery feel? What smells emanate from the kitchens?

In MBTI language, I would correlate this skill of being aware of one's surroundings with the Extraverted Sensing preference. If you are an ESxP type, it will be your dominant function and may therefore come quite easily to you. Others like IxxJ and ExxJ may need more practice. Still, the effort will be worth it, just consider how the awareness of another person's state of mind can benefit your mutual understanding. :-)

Image by Christopher Octa, Flickr, Creative Commons License.