Don’t be a Bobblehead


There’s a great book by Olivia Fox Cabane entitled The Charisma Myth. In it she talks about the power of charisma and some of the behaviours we can adopt to create a more charismatic presence. One of the things she cautions against is being a “Bobblehead.”

It’s something we are all guilty of at some time or another. We nod our heads too quickly or too often to validate someone else’s point of view or opinion. It’s a well intended gesture. We want people to know that we’re listening. The unfortunate side effect of bobbleheading is that people can get the impression that you’re not really giving due consideration to the things they are saying. They see the nodding as reflexive, and think you’re not paying attention.

Here’s an exercise for the next time you’re in a meeting or talking with someone: When they’re speaking, force yourself to keep your head perfectly still, maintain strong eye contact and listen carefully. When they’re finished talking, count to a full two seconds, then slowly nod your head twice in agreement.

The impact of this anti-bobbleheading technique can’t be understated. You’ll be perceived as confident, and when it’s your turn to speak, you will find that your words are received with a great deal more credibility. Bobbleheading is a tough habit to break, but if you can do it, you will be pleased with the results.

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