Body Language Tips for Managers

In this article our guest author gives some tips on why managers need to consider their body language. While verbal communication is undeniably important, body language is an often overlooked consideration…

Body Language skills

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Managers need to know how to communicate in more than just words. Equally as important are how actions and body language are interpreted. Managers can communicate quite a lot to their teams just by the way they sit, stand and make eye contact.

Crossing arms and legs

Most people cross their arms and legs from time to time. However, not many people realise what they are communicating with this simple action, without even thinking about it, a manager could be telling their employees that they are angry, stressed or not listening.

A more positive approach is to keep both the arms and legs uncrossed. This conveys openness, which will make employees feel that they are being heard and respected. Uncrossed legs that are slightly apart are an example of inviting body language and show receptiveness to communication. Likewise, arms that are at the sides or away from the body are perceived as confident and strong.

In contrast, crossing the arms or legs conveys defensiveness. Crossed arms, for example, are uninviting and protective. Crossed legs can be even worse, potentially conveying arrogance. Even feet can be important, as they tend to point toward things we like.

Give the right eye contact

Everyone knows that eye contact is important, but too much eye contact can be just as bad as none at all.

Eye contact is great. It lets employees know their manager is listening to them and taking in what they say. Also, giving no eye contact makes a person seem insecure; however, too much eye contact can come across as a little too intense and focused. People may even feel uncomfortable and scrutinised.

In a group setting, eye contact can get a bit trickier. Here it is good to try to give everyone some eye contact, while avoiding the temptation to focus on one person in particular.

Some may not think that eye contact is that important in the realm of IT support, but this is not true. IT support and management is still about making people feel comfortable and secure, which includes positive eye contact.

Posture matters

Harping on about posture may seem old-fashioned, but it is still relevant when it comes to positive body language. The right posture, from head to toe, can hurt or harm a manager’s attempt to communicate with their team.

For one thing, sit up straight. It is not necessary to sit rigidly straight, but slouching is not a good posture for a manager. It sends the wrong signals. It is better to lean, whether sitting or standing, but not too much. Leaning towards a person makes them feel that they are being listened to. Leaning backward just a little, on the other hand, shows confidence and relaxation. Both of these can be taken too far, though. Leaning too far forward can make someone feel uncomfortable and leaning too far backward can seem arrogant and distant.

Confidence is key when it comes to posture and body language. Fidgeting indicates discomfort and can be distracting. It can make a manager seem nervous around their team. Likewise, hands can be awkward unless they are used confidently. Rather than fidgeting with hands or with an object, relax, slow down and use hands with control. Flailing, huge gestures and general fidgeting are off-putting body language.

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