There was this urban legend about Anthony Hopkins never blinking when playing the iconic character from Silence of the Lambs.
While it’s not true and he does blink, the myth persisted due to a very useful quirk:
Hannibal Lecter needs no introduction, but Hopkins’ take on the character offers some insights for tough negotiations.
This man knew how to make quite an impression. We are talking about just over 16 minutes of acting in the whole movie that awarded him an Oscar for Best Actor.
The subject of ‘never blinking’ first came up because Hopkins deliberately trained himself not to blink, to keep the audience on edge over his lines.
The very few moments that he does blink… he does it slowly and deliberately.
That gives us two personality clues:
If you keep full eye contact without blinking, people are going to feel uncomfortable. In fact, solid eye contact for more than 5 seconds makes anyone a little anxious.
The fact that he blinks deliberately is a way of showing a character that leaves absolutely nothing to chance.
But in Hopkin’s words, the actual trick was stillness.
“It’s not so much not blinking, it’s just being still. Stillness has an economy and it has a power about it.”
Now that’s a nice tip to remind us about the real display of power. Keeping our demeanor calm and collected.
You can tell when people are faking it. They don’t look calm; they look… slow and clumsy.
My clients are usually very frantic people that speak a bit too fast.
Of course, they time is usually limited so that’s a natural reaction.
But that reduces their perceived power.
In the end, you’re not going to copy Hannibal Lecter’s personality ‘as is’. That would never work.
But you can work in how you deliver your words. No matter what you say, you must be mindful of every. word. you. say.
Absolutely every word is important to deliver your idea.
If you find yourself stumbling or correcting yourself when speaking, just try to talk slower.
Practice the way you deliver ideas until you find a pacing that lets you chain one idea after another seamlessly.
If you’ve played a musical instrument, you know what’s it about.
Controlling your speaking rate to match your thought process will be really useful in negotiations.
You will not only sound in control at all times; you won’t overreact to anything the other party says or demands.
Remember: Every word is important, so treat it like that.
Being able to talk in a powerful way is not only about words.
Your body language is critical too, in the art of persuasion.
You can have a head start by downloading my FREE ebook of body language and persuasion tips:
Jesús Enrique Rosas
I can read your body language and write a story about it.