Commentary by Betty Bell
In my résumé there’s not even one
successful scheme to warrant the delicious confidence I have that finally I’ve
got it—I’m on the verge of setting off the next big craze, a craze bigger than
the Hula-Hoop and Pet Rock, combined. And I’m confident enough to risk a preview
even before it’s market-ready.
Body language, pilgrims. The next big
craze will be body language. Count on it. But advanced body language—as used
back there in Washington in the House of Power, not simple stuff like, for
instance, reading Lindsay Davenport’s body language. You know what I mean—when
Lindsay loses the first set and gets down two breaks in the second, every
positive muscle in her body lets loose and leaves her with a slump so obvious
her opponent, seeded 82, suddenly sees that all she has to do is stay on her
feet, not cramp up, and Lindsay’s outta there.
But watch Justine Henin-Hardin in the same
predicament. Justine doesn’t know slump. Justine just projects her five-foot
frame into six-foot-two, and her opponent instantly knows in her bones that
she’s about to blow her big lead. Justine nearly always wins.
But that’s simple sporting-life stuff, the
kind we all use. Heavens, I remember back at the dawn of skiing when the hot
binding was toe-plates-and-long-thongs on seven-foot wooden skis, and I remember
the exact minute when the light-bulb flash revealed that the forward lean was
the secret, the crucial element in the pursuit of racing glory. That moment was
followed by an even better revelation: I didn’t have to be on my skis to use it.
The forward lean projected great confidence, and it seemed to be so wholly
intimidating that I walked around that way all the time to mind-tamper with the
other girls seeking racing glory—truly, I didn’t stand upright for years.
Sporting life body language is body
language writ small. But then I read Bob Woodward’s "Plan of Attack", and I
started to think BODY LANGUAGE writ big. Writ big, Woodward shows, is how it’s
used in the House of Power. Read the book, but don’t get caught up in the tale
of willful, woeful, wages of war. Rather, pay rapt attention to the story
between the lines, the story of the Power People’s use of body language ... body
language ... and yet more body language. You’ll be as astounded as I was to
learn about the collective perception and projection of body language as
practiced in the House of Power.
For instance, Woodward tells about the
pre, pre-war planning stage when General Frank’s would enter Rummy’s office with
the latest changes in the probably
never-going-to-use-it-but-just-in-case-plan-of-attack. Rummy carefully noted the
general’s body language as he approached, and since the general always projected
very good body language indeed, it’d bolster Rummy, and then boomerang back to
bolster the general. It was a wonderfully positive thing they had going during
that time of need for positive.
Woodward says that not much attention was
paid to Powell’s body language, but the Veep’s got a lot. All the Power People
watched the Veep—and probably envied him too. The Veep, even when he was just
walking around the Halls of Power, never projected anything but Goliath. But
when the talk turned to Iraq all the other Power Persons used one word to
describe his body language: feverish. The Veep projected feverish, which I
hadn’t known was possible. The Veep plus Iraq equaled feverish.
I’m not making this up. Woodward conveys
the impression that in the House of Power body language is the mother tongue.
Since I found that out I’m in awe of the president. Imagine, he became the most
powerful man in the world just by substituting body language for plain old
English. When the president walks into a gathering of the Power People in
Crawford, he enters with body language writ big—you can actually see the
stiffening of spines all around the table.
Yep, body language will open the door to
the ground floor I’ve been waiting to get on all my life. I’m geared-up and
ready, but I need a partner, someone to cover the costs of launching. First
we’ll do the book—"Power Body Language," or maybe "Body Language Power." Next
the video, then the lecture tour here and abroad that probably will open up the
big-moola seminar circuit. Partner, I almost guarantee you’ll get a fat return
on your ante.