The Body Language of Horrible Bosses
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sadistic puppet-master who verbally abuses and humiliates, a
coke-addicted lunatic who berates and blackmails, and an over-the-top
nymphomaniac who subjects her assistant to constant sexual harassment –
these are the “horrible bosses” played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell
and Jennifer Aniston in the movie released last Friday.
real life, horrible bosses don’t have to go to extremes, or even say a
word, in order to demean, intimidate or discount employees. An eye
roll, a smirk, a “whatever” shoulder shrug, an expression of disgust or
contempt – all of these send their own clear signals.
the results of a recent survey of over 200 business professionals, here
are the top twelve body language behaviors of less-than-ideal bosses.
may not be a “horrible boss,” but you sure look like one when . . .
You stop in the middle of a discussion and simulate golf swings once
you begin to lose interest.
You constantly interrupt or talk over a staff member as if the person
hadn’t been speaking at all.
You ignore all underlings in the corridor, even if the employee extends
a greeting, but you make sure to acknowledge your fellow executives.
You roll your eyes and grimace at any comment that differs from your
own point of view.
You send nonverbal signals of exclusion and disinterest when members of
your team are talking: You look away, lean back, cross your arms and
legs, tilt your head in a “looking-down-the-nose” position, and angle
your torso away from the speaker.
You conduct every conversation with female staff members with your eyes
on their chests.
You check your e-mail, shuffle papers, work on your computer, take
phone calls, and clip your fingernails while meeting with employees.
You announce an “open door” policy and glare at anyone who dares to
enter your office without an appointment.
You call for staff meetings and routinely forget to show up.
You pat a team member on the head while telling him he did a good job.
You lean over your assistant, and invade her personal space, to check
her paperwork or computer screen.
(drum roll) my personal favorite -- which actually stopped the meeting
cold . . .
You lean across the table toward a subordinate, stretch out your arm
and make a loud “shushing” sound while wagging your hand (fingers to
thumb like a snake head).
These are the responses of people
in my survey -- but I’d love to hear from you. Email me at
let me know your experience with the body language of horrible bosses.
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-07-20 12:41:37 in Employee Articles