More about Sophie Halliday Zadeh
My journey to Here
Creativity and Drive
I discovered early in my childhood that I was creatively gifted. I knew this had to, somehow, become my career. I excelled at art and design at school and college, and my parents fully supported my creative dream. But they were also realistic. They encouraged me to study other areas as well, just in case I needed something to fall back on should my chosen career path fail. I followed my second passion–human behaviour–and studied psychology and sociology.
Determined to make my creative dream a reality, I studied design at university, then won sponsorship for an Artist Residency at an educational arts centre and gallery–my career as a Visual Artist and Arts Educator, had begun. My Arts Educator role centred around inspiring people (often children) to question their perceptions of art and think outside the box, challenging themselves to be experimental and try something different. Together, we created sculpture and magical worlds, in which their imaginations were free to run wild. What they created, sparked awe within them. I often saw ‘low achievers’ light up because they had discovered something they excelled in–I saw their teacher’s jaw drop in reaction. These were often children who had little self-worth, cast aside because they were not academically achieving. Helping children and adults to find awe in themselves became my drive.
Meanwhile, my interest in human behaviour grew stronger. Reserved by nature, I am an observer…
Life as an Observer
As a child, and even into my twenties, I was incredibly shy–I'd observe from behind, dreading having to speak. It taught me a lot about how people interact and communicate. I could see reactions that went unnoticed by others–even adults and those within the interaction itself. I could see and feel emotion.
I also learned patience and tolerance. When you fear attention, you don't step forth or speak up. You learn to tolerate others because it's easier than saying something. You learn to go without because it's easier than people seeing you step forward. You learn to put others first because you don't want a confrontation.
Tolerance, patience and putting others first (within reason) are traits I value in others and myself. These traits, along with the ability to observe and understand others have led me to where I am today. I could not have performed well in my career without them. In some ways, I'm happy that I was a ridiculously shy and awkward adolescent.
On the downside, my shyness made me vulnerable–I was an easy target for bullies. I couldn't see how I carried my own body–timid and defeated. My voice was barely present, and when it was, it further confirmed my timidity.
As an adult, I'm no longer shy, speak up and step forth without hesitation, but still, I'm an observer. I'd like to go back in time and talk to my former self and tell her the body language secrets that I now know. The secrets that could change her emotions and the perceptions of others.
A shift in focus
I was self-employed in a job that I loved, but, as you can imagine, when children in an education system centred around numeracy and literacy, get the opportunity to create, they get somewhat hyperactive. Especially when working with a real-life artist. Despite quickly discovering that not all artists look like Picasso, they remained excited for the duration of the session–fighting for my attention. Going into a new school or community group, at times, as often as three a day was draining. Longer term projects were few and far between with school budget constraints, so I transitioned to consulting–guiding creative strategy in schools, training and presenting to teachers.
Working with children for almost a decade had forced me to learn how to communicate complex ideas in an easy to understand format. And, because of this, I found training adults comparatively easy. What’s more, they were capable of containing their excitement–for the most part anyway.
I continued to observe and reflect on human interaction and consumed as many books and studies about nonverbal behaviour as I could. This interest started to become an obsession, overtaking that of arts and creativity. More and more, I began to realise how important nonverbal communication is in influencing our lives. I felt desperate to share my knowledge with others.
The Transition: Creativity to nonverbal communication.
I transitioned out of the creative industries and into training and presenting centred around business and sales–it wasn't enough–only a small component of my work focused on my passion. In 2016, after levelling up my nonverbal communication knowledge, I finally took the plunge–I quit my job as a Training Manager and set up My Alcomy. My mission–to inspire and empower people to use the power of nonverbal communication to enrich their lives and create positive outcomes. Oh, and to dispell the myths that most people believe about body language–like eye direction and nose touching being indicative of deception.
I feel that everybody should be privy to the secrets that lie within their body and voice. I want people to know how their nonverbal behaviour changes the way people respond to them, and how the behaviour of others influences them. I want people to know how to use their body and voice to create feelings of confidence within themselves, especially those who experience higher levels of fear and those who are more vulnerable.
What excites me is finding the science behind nonverbal communication and presenting it to people, so it's easy to understand–and so that it's fascinating. I want to capture the same awe that sparks within people when they realise, for the first time, that they can create.
When people discover how powerful their body and voice are for communication and self-empowerment, they gain the ability to transform their life positively.
Helping people to find awe in themselves is still my drive.