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Play the Part: Master Body Signals to Connect and Communicate for Business Success (Business Books) Paperback – June 12, 2015
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From the Back Cover
“In my field of design and innovation, it’s the human connections that build momentum for great ideas. Gina Barnett teaches us how to bring our full selves into every conversation, from connecting with our friends and colleagues to telling one’s most personal story at TED.”
―David Kelly, founder, chairman, and managing partner of IDEO
“Play the Part is an essential guide for anyone who is interested in elevating their communication style to achieve maximum effectiveness. It teaches how crucial every part of your body is to your communication effectiveness, and all the ways that your intended message can unconsciously be hampered. Play the Part armed me with career-propelling tools that helped me become more self-aware and, more important, bodily aware. I now feel that I am not only heard but seen as authentically and powerfully as I hope to be.”
―Lucinda Martinez, SVP of Multichannel Marketing at HBO
“Gina is the best in the business when it comes to training leaders in “omnipresent communication,” and I’m a master of my newly discovered messaging channel, my body, because of her. Play the Part is a jewel for those of us who dare call ourselves great communicators.”
―James Andrews, founder of True Story Agency
“Bringing her considerable warmth, sense of humor, and passion to the task, Gina teaches us how to unlock our innate ability to connect with other people. Play the Part is a must-read not just for business but for all communication success.”
―Alexander Saint-Amand, president and CEO of Gerson Lehrman Group
“Gina has a supreme knack for distilling the key essence and getting to the heart of the matter!”
―Kareem Yusuf, SVP of Development of Smarter Commerce at IBM
“Gina Barnett is a master teacher of the art of connection. Every page of this book offers valuable lessons gleaned from her rich experience with every kind of senior leader. There are lessons here for us all.”
―Richard Socarides, former White House senior adviser to President William Jefferson Clinton
“Gina taught me how to connect to the power of my truth and convey it through storytelling. When I step onstage to share my message, the intimacy and courage I feel is all because of Gina―her generosity, her knowledge. Play the Part is an invaluable gift for anyone with a message to convey.”
―Geena Rocero, LGBT activist and model
About the Author
Gina Barnett is the founder of Barnett International, Inc., an executive communications consulting firm. She’s coached and consulted with thought leaders in finance, technology, healthcare, science, and the arts. Since 2011, she’s been speaker coach for the main stage TED Conference.
Top customer reviews
In incredible and simple way give you exercises to break bad habits.
The more interesting things is that the writer present in few works information that took me years to find in diferents books.
Improving how you communicate is the author’s goal, enhancing the invisible, subconscious messages you may pass on through your body language as well as your general stature, appearance and whole being. Whether in a one-to-one meeting or standing on a stage in front of thousands of people, the author believes that real change is quite possible.
If you have read books about body language, public speaking and related subjects in the past you might not find this to be a totally revolutionary book, yet it manages to package a lot of interesting points together to make it a complimentary read, building upon and refining your existing knowledge. A number of practical exercises are included which the author believes will help the reader improve and articulate their performance. It need be no different to playing a music instrument: many people can play an instrument, but not so many are capable of playing within an orchestra at a concert level. The core aim is to make the reader shine, whether if they are “speaking” as part of the orchestra or taking a solo role.
The book is written primarily in a narrative, first person-type style and it didn’t work so well for this reader. Different strokes for different folks, but it just made the whole reading interaction more stilted, less accessible and at times a bit of a chore. Greater internal signposting could have been used, along with an index (one was not, in any case, present in this review copy) so that a stressed executive who knows they saw something about reading an autocue confidently could perhaps find the exact page and remind themselves of the tip as a last minute aide memoire.
Even though it did not work for this reviewer on the whole, it wasn’t a wasted read. It just felt it could have been even better and more focussed; it could have been an excellent book rather than an average or quite good book. Your views may vary: at the very least you should check it out and see if you can form a connection with it.
Play the Part is absolutely packed with helpful information and exercises to undo bad physical habits or begin new good ones. However, Barnett says right from the start that the point of this book isn’t to teach people to pretend or act. Instead, she says her aim is to show people how to change whatever quirky mannerisms might be preventing them from connecting with others. It’s about becoming aware of your body, listening to it, and then understanding how you come across to everyone else. Do you walk so fast that your subordinates think you are overwhelmed and hurried, even when you aren’t? Do you hold your neck incorrectly so that you might be looking up or down at your coworkers thereby communicating weakness or hostility?
And here is the most important question, the question that was basically a revelation to me: do you use your body as an instrument for play, imagination, and self-conception? We are physical beings. We are made to feel and then express. But many of us, myself included, have been told over and over again to keep emotion hidden, to not ask questions or break routine. Over time, this strict and limiting attitude manifests itself in us physically. What isn’t expressed verbally gets expressed physically. For example, a woman who was silenced as a child might stop opening her mouth up wide enough to be heard clearly, thereby coming across in the workplace as unfocused, lazy, or just not “management material.” Or a man might rapidly bounce his knee, making coworkers think he is impatient or irritated with them, when really he might just feel anxious. Basically, our bodies show the limitations we feel on the inside—whether we are conscious of them or not.
In my case, I have always been a feeler, a ponderer (sometimes annoyingly so, I admit), but, as a child, I was constantly criticized for sharing my thoughts, feelings, and questions out loud. Before I read this book, I thought I had let go of many of those negative past experiences and had silenced that overly critical voice inherited from my parents. But I realize now that I still hold their judging voices in my head and that that judgment manifests itself physically in some of my mannerisms. For example, I clench my jaw and grind my teeth when I feel like my feelings aren’t being heard, and I sometimes slump my shoulders forward when I anticipate being criticized, almost like I want to be invisible. I also feel real dumb real fast when put in a situation where I’m asked to be spontaneous or playful. I’m quiet by nature, yes, but sometimes I am too afraid of embarrassing myself to just let go and have fun.
Thankfully, while reading this book and doing the (many) exercises provided, I was able to open myself up a bit more, to give myself permission to make silly sounds and do weird mouth exercises and pretend to walk like someone else. I felt self-conscious at first (even though I was by myself!) and then I thought, why the hell not? I went with it, and it was actually and genuinely liberating.
I think, above all, that is what I loved most about Play the Part: Barnett encourages her readers to take it all in and let it all out. Experience it. Feel it. Express it. Life is short, you know? It may take focus and attention to change the quirky physical habits you’ve spent the last few decades “perfecting”—and she’s here to help you undo them!—but the fulfillment experienced by, as she says, “removing those blocks that prevent you from connecting” is worth it.