Patrick left the meeting with Rebecca a bit confused. “Why does it feel like Rebecca doesn’t mean what she says?” he asked his teammate Gloria.
“I know. Half the time, I feel like she hasn’t heard a word I’ve said. It’s like her mouth is moving, but her eyes are somewhere else.”
“I can’t put my finger on it … we just … don’t connect.”
You’re speaking two languages
Rebecca shares that common communication problem of sending mixed messages. Poor communication happens when your words are betrayed by your behavior.
Consider a monotone, emotionless, “Great job.” What’s the boss really saying? Is she being sarcastic? Does he mean it, really?
Such misspeaking is increasingly common. Driven in part by the pace and stress of today’s workplace, it’s not unusual for your body to say something different from your words. Basic weariness contributes, too. It takes energy to monitor what your body is saying and watch your language.
Aligning what people see you say and what they hear you say comes from emotional intelligence. According to authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves emotional intelligence is “your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.”
Did you know that 90% of top performers exhibit high emotional intelligence? They pay attention to and take control of how their body speaks.
Mixed messages, mixed results
When your verbal message contradicts your nonverbal clues it hinders team productivity? Unfulfilled expectations and frustration build. The last thing your team needs is more frustration.
Watch out for these blunders
Travis Bradberry reports the 15 most common body language blunders high EQ people avoid.
- Slouching — the message is one of disrespect and boredom; good postures gains respect and promotes engagement
- Exaggerated gestures — the implication is you are stretching the truth
- Watching the clock — a sign of disrespect, impatience, and ego; “I’ve got better things to do…”
- Turning yourself away from others — leaning away portrays you are unengaged, uninterested, perhaps distrustful of the person speaking
- Crossed arms and legs — can set a physical barrier suggesting you’re not open to what the other person is saying
- Inconsistency — when your words and facial expression are not aligned it causes people to sense something isn’t right, even if they don’t know exactly why or how
- Exaggerated nodding — this signals anxiety about approval
- Fidgeting with or fixing your hair — signals anxiety, self-consciousness, or distractedness
- Avoiding eye contact — suggests you have something to hide, lack confidence or interest
- Too intense eye contact — may be perceived as aggression or an attempt to dominate
- Rolling your eyes — communicates lack of respect
- Scowling — an unhappy expression suggests you’re upset, people feel judged; smiling suggests you’re open, trustworthy, confident, and friendly
- Weak handshakes — indicates you lack authority and confidence; too strong could be perceived as aggressive; firm works
- Clenched fists — like crossed arms can signal closed and defensive, creates uncertainty of those interacting with you
- Getting too close — closer than one and a half feet signals you lack respect for or understand personal space
Create Space for Reflection
As you review the 15 blunders, which 5 have you mastered?
Where do you need to become more fluent? How will you be mindful of how your body speaks? (Write it in your journal.)
Success in life requires effective communication with others. Whether personal or professional, connecting requires you to be fluent in two languages.
What has to change to improve your #1 body language blunder?
Here’s to your clear communication,
Photo credit: Jon Wiley via flickr