Is Your Body Language Sabotaging Collaboration
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leaders today are aware of the need to look confident, powerful, and
assertive, but fewer understand the impact of empathy and warmth. And
this may be more of a career-limiting factor than they know.
organizations move toward more collaborative cultures, your success as
a leader increasing depends on your ability to make team members feel
valued, respected, and included.
While power and confidence are
nonverbally displayed by expanding into height and space, when you want
to encourage collaboration, you’d be wise to replace those status cues
with warmer ones – and that starts by keeping your body relaxed and
In open and receptive postures,
legs are uncrossed, and arms are held away from your body, with palms
exposed or resting comfortably on the desk or conference table. Studies
show that leaders with open body language are perceived more positively
and are more persuasive.
is another way your body makes a statement. Leaning backward usually
signals feelings of dislike or negativity, as we subconsciously try to
distance ourselves from anyone we don’t like or trust.
the other hand, liking and trust is often displayed by leaning forward
– especially when sitting down. But if you are using forward
leans as a means to build positive relationships, be aware that early
leans can make people
uncomfortable and decrease their perception of you
as likeable. So wait until you’ve developed a level of interpersonal
comfort. Then make your move.
When it comes to the body
language of inclusion,
facing people directly when they’re talking is crucial. Even a quarter
turn away signals your lack of interest and makes the speaker shut down.
Mirroring is another nonverbal
sign of empathy and inclusion. You may not realize it, but when you are
dealing with people you genuinely like or agree with, you’ll begin to
match their stance, arm positions and facial expressions. It’s a way of
signaling that you are connected and engaged.
You can also use your head. The
next time you are in a conversation where you’re trying to encourage
someone to continue speaking, try nodding your head using clusters of
three nods. Research shows that people will talk three to four times
more than usual when the listener nods in this manner.
tilting is another signal that you are interested and involved. So head
tilts can be very positive cues when you want to send messages of
empathy and understanding. But a tilted head may also be subconsciously
processed as a submission signal. (Dogs will tilt to show their necks
in deference to a more dominant animal.) So don’t overuse this signal.
course, paying attention when someone else is speaking is one of the
warmest signals you can send. So at your next meeting, avoid the
temptation to check your text messages, check your watch, or check out
how the other participants are reacting. Instead, focus on whoever is
speaking to make sure that he or she feels valued, respected, and
About the Author
Carol Kinsey Goman. Ph.D. is
an international keynote speaker who specializes in the link between
body language and leadership effectiveness. Contact Carol at
or through her website: www.CarolKinseyGoman.com.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-09-25 12:46:11 in Personal Articles