We are wired to pick up cues about people around us from many sources, not just, and not primarily, the words themselves. Start noticing how often you respond, not to the words someone says, but to something you notice about the way those words are delivered. My guess is that you do it almost all the time. This is especially true when the words and the delivery don’t match. In those cases, we are always going to believe what the body and vocal quality say.
One of my favorite examples of this is when people start a presentation or speech by reciting, quickly and in a monotone, “I’m glad to be here with you” or “thank you for this opportunity.” In this case, the words mean nothing at all; they’re simply a placeholder for “insert bland welcoming sentence here.”
You have a couple of choices. One, you can keep the sentence and align your voice, energy, and facial expression to make it believable. Two, you can skip the platitude and get right into the meat of your message. Or I guess there’s a third choice, as well: you can choose to say something that’s more in line with your energy, perhaps “I’m reluctant to be here but I’ll get through this.”
Clearly choice three is not one that most people will (or should) go with. But I do want you to think for a minute about how obvious it is that saying those words isn’t a good solution to this dilemma. “If I say that, they’ll know I don’t really want to be there.” Right. And all of the vocal and physical habits that also convey “I don’t want to be doing this” are as clear as if you had just said the words out loud. When you speak too quickly, are quiet, don’t make eye contact, let your gestures and movement distract from your message, and seem unprepared, you are screaming: “I do not want to be doing this!”