Have you ever considered how your body language affects your employees and colleagues?
If not, you should.
Body language is a powerful method of subliminal communication and reflects your energy levels, emotional state, and personality. Because it is extremely easy to misinterpret, it is important that managers and executives be aware of what their body language is communicating to others within their organization.
Take charge of how you are coming across; body language can be a positive contributor to overall effective leadership. Knowing how to utilize your body language and interpret others’ will give you some useful tricks to keep employee engagement levels up.
Show interest in your employees
When in meetings or having one-on-one conversations with employees, ask yourself: What message is my body language conveying right now? You may be engaged and interested in the discussion, but your employee won't be aware if your body language is sending a different message.
And while you may think you appear engaged, take note of those little habits that say otherwise. For example, are you checking your watch, replying to text messages, or scanning the room while an employee is speaking? Don’t discourage your employees from contributing by sending a message of disinterest.
Attentive body language will encourage employees to contribute and engage in conversations. Eye contact, directly facing the person speaking, and non-verbally responding to input by smiling, nodding, and tilting your head, are all clear indicators of an interested listener.
Your body language will also signal to your team what is expected in meetings. If you are actively engaged in your team’s responses, your employees are more likely to emulate you and demonstrate engaged, supportive body language.
How do you hold yourself?
From the moment you enter a room, your posture informs employees of your mood, attitude, approachability, and interest. Maybe you are fatigued, or maybe you have never thought about your posture. But, you should know that other people are seeing it - and it has an effect.
An executive who sluggishly moves around the office doesn’t exactly energize her staff or inspire them to be their best. Show you are physically and mentally engaged yourself through strong body language; stand tall, with your shoulders back, and don’t forget to smile.
Smiling lets everyone around you know that you are approachable, cooperative, and open to communication. If you want your workplace to encourage idea-sharing, foster an inviting culture, and to motivate employees, smiling is an integral ingredient.
Respond to each employee accordingly
When two people are communicating effectively, they are often mirroring one another’s physical nuances. This physical synchronicity is called body mirroring and often happens involuntarily. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t consciously employ it.
If you notice an employee keeps a few feet of distance between himself and his coworkers when speaking, he probably has a larger personal bubble. This may be because of cultural or personal reasons. You can demonstrate your respect for his boundaries and make him feel more comfortable communicating with you by being aware of his spatial preferences. This way, you avoid making an employee feel nervous or stressed, consequently distracted by his emotional state and unable to fully engage in the conversation.
The personal gestures an employee uses when communicating are also important to notice. Do they make eye contact? Do they use specific, unique hand gestures? The more you observe how your employees are trying to communicate, the more versatile a communicator you can become. Your message will probably come across either way, but these small adjustments improve your employees’ engagement by showing them that you are more engaged.
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