The words we say are only a small part of how we communicate to our employees and co-workers. Just look at how easily your written words in emails and texts are misinterpreted due to a lack of body language, voice inflection, facial expressions and other factors. This has been an area of interest to researchers and business leaders alike for a while now.
A 2009 Bloomberg Businessweek article revealed research being done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to analyze workplace behaviors through the latest in sensor technology. By monitoring gestures, eye movements, voice levels and other body language components, researchers hope to learn the physical traits of successful leadership to create training programs businesses can use to teach employees how to behave effectively.
You don’t have to be a researcher at MIT, though, to learn how to control your body language and be a more effective leader. For those times when you need to control your feelings at work, try these simple tips to help better mask your emotions.
On the Defense?
When you feel threatened, your body naturally goes on the defensive for a physical attack. You’ll unknowingly cross your arms, bring your legs together and tuck your chin. These instincts cover your vulnerable areas and make you a smaller target. So when you start to go on the defensive, try to relax. Unclench your arms, loosen your legs and release the muscles in your neck. This will help you stay calm, and you’ll be able to think more clearly on the best way to deal with the situation.
Bored Out of Your Mind?
It’s hard to feign interest when your mind is elsewhere and you wish your body was too. Your gaze instinctively wanders, doodles appear on your notepad, your foot starts tapping and a yawn catches you off guard. To keep your attention engaged, still your movements, lean forward, make eye contact and slowly nod. The person you’re listening to will feel encouraged, and you’ll stay focused.
About to Boil Over?
Sometimes people or situations can stretch you to your limit and leave you on the precipice of losing your temper. Aggressive body language such as frowning, pursing your lips, glaring, clenching your fists, tilting your chin up and gesturing quickly reveals your feelings and puts other people on the defense. So take a few deep breaths, force your face to relax, ease up on your staring and loosen up your hands. This will help you focus on solutions to the problem as well as take the other person off the defense and put them back on your team.
One factor in how others view you and rate your leadership abilities is how you demonstrate emotion. Training yourself to control your feelings and outward displays of your emotions will go a long way to help employees and coworkers feel comfortable to open up to you and place their trust