What Is Your Body Broadcasting?

As you begin to read this article, I am inviting you to uncross your arms and legs, if they are crossed. No, it’s not because I think you are being defensive. I’ll tell you why I’m inviting you to do this, at the end of the article (resist the temptation to jump there, now). As I recently led a 4-day leadership workshop, one participant demonstrated strong body language. She sat with her arms, legs and ankles crossed for the entire first two days. She didn’t smile although she did participate in all of the activities we invited the participants to do. On day 3, my curiosity got the best of me and I said, “Are you finding value in this workshop?” She said, “Oh yes. This is the best workshop I’ve been too. In fact it’s already been life changing in both my personal and work life.”

Could have fooled me! (inside voice)

I said, “Oh that surprises me. I thought by your crossed arms and legs that you didn’t like it.” She said, “I always sit like that. If I didn’t like it, I would have got up and walked out.” Go figure. There’s a lot to body language that most people don’t know. As a leader it’s important to understand your own body language because others are constantly assessing it (and usually incorrectly).

They are checking to see what kind of mood you are in.

A good mood means they can bring up an issue or concern. A bad mood means, avoid at all costs. How can you positively broadcast that you want to collaborate?

1. Think Up

  • When most people think they furrow their brows. This is frequently misinterpreted as anger.
  • Instead raise your eyebrows when you think, this will send a positive signal to others (in other words you look happy).
  • Go ahead and try it now – it works, doesn’t it?

2. Hands Above Board

  • When you are in a meeting, keep you hands on the table where people can see them.
  • We trust people whose hands we can see.

3. Remove Barriers

  • Physical barriers are detrimental to collaboration. Barriers such as a desk or table need to be removed when they are between you and the person you are speaking with.
  • Even a slight turn away indicates lack of interest and collaboration
  • Consider this: even a coffee cup can create a barrier by blocking others from yourself, depending on where you hold it.

Remember if you don’t tune in to the other person with your body language, they will interpret it as disinterest. You cannot create a respectful work environment if you are broadcasting ‘disinterest’ with your body language. At the beginning of the article I asked you to uncross you arms, legs and ankles, remember? Research says people who sit with their arms and legs uncrossed remember 38% more than those who don’t. The research is when listening to a lecture but I’m hoping it works when reading an article too! While broadcasting positively is important, there are additional strategies required to create an engaged and respectful work environment. If you want sustainable strategies that work, then I invite you to contact me for a Free 20 minute phone call. Click Here to Contact Me for your free call.

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  • Our workshop participants found Barb’s approach to teaching at the Centre for Professional Development to be dynamic and engaging.  Barb not only taught effective communication and presentation skills, but also role modelled techniques throughout the day. Participants were excited to be able to apply learning’s directly into their day to day roles

    Leasa Knechtel

    Associate Director at the Centre for Professional Development, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.

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