What Non-Verbal Messages Are You Sending To Your Team?

  By Barb Bruno  |    Monday February 27, 2023

Category: Columns, Motivational, Productivity, Recruiting


Your team should never have to figure out what “version” of you is going to show up each day.  Your team will take their direction from you, even when you are not talking.  Whether you like it or not, your persona sets the tone of your business and team.   Never forget the three things that are most important in any relationship. 


You must consistently show you:


can be trusted.

deliver on promises made.


We hire intuitive type “A” personalities who will attempt to read you, especially if they sense fear, frustration, or dissatisfaction.   Non-verbal communication provides advantages in both your personal and business life.  It also plays a significant role in the perception of a person’s warmth, credibility, and persuasive power which impacts your employees.


Though much of body language hasn’t yet been studied scientifically, the general consensus is that tensely folded arms mean you are closed to what someone is telling you, while if you like what you hear, you’ll likely adopt an open posture, and even lean forward a little. 

Moving your shoulders forward seems to signify disgust, despair, or fear.  Maintaining a large interpersonal distance while you speak seems to signal social stature.  A loss of eye contact is often interpreted as dishonesty.  It’s probably true that assuming those different postures can have at least a subtle effect on how your employees perceive you.  Body language is also apparent during Zoom or any type of video calls with remote employees.  In fact, body language is often more obvious when watching you on video vs. in person.




Sync Your Words and Actions to Convey Integrity

I’ve always been told I should be from Missouri the show me state.  Most people believe more of what they see than what they hear.  If your delivering positive news don’t cross your arms, put your hands in your pockets, or lose eye contact.  If you’re delivering bad news, don’t grin.  Make sure the employee you’re addressing feels they have your undivided attention – no interruptions.


Take Up Physical Space to Convey Authority

Place your hands on the armrests or table, stretch your legs or place a notebook on the table as an extension of yourself.  When you take up space you signal that you are engaged, present, and here to make decisions.  When you curl up or shrink into a corner, you’re saying, “I’d rather follow than lead.”


Position Yourself at An Angle to Convey Approachability

If you’re aggressive, your employees may be intimidated by you.  Your goal should be to help them feel comfortable approaching you and sharing their ideas.  Step back, stand, or sit at a 45-degree angle.  This takes pressure off the other person so they can relax, think, and regain composure.


Keep Your Body Still to Convey Control

Never reveal impatience, anxiety, or boredom.  Fidgeting, pacing, head nodding, toe tapping, hair pulling – all of these behaviors signal a lack of self-control which will not reassure your employees about your leadership abilities.


Show Vulnerability to Convey Confidence

People who lack confidence often use self-soothing body language that closes them off from others.  Do you cross your arms, entwine your legs, put your hands in your pockets, or wring your hands?  These behaviors signal insecurity and lack of confidence.  Opening up your body shows vulnerability and signals confidence.  So, keep your shoulders back, chin up, hands by your sides, and legs uncrossed.


Listen Actively to Convey Empathy

When you talk to someone make them feel like the most important person in your world.  While they are talking, make eye contact, cock your head to the side, nod, and match your facial expressions to the spirit of what they are saying.  Respond thoughtfully, repeating back the essence of what the person just said.


Control Facial Expressions – To Convey High Expectations

Your facial expressions alone are capable of demoralizing your employees and diminishing their odds of success.  Consider the subtle message you convey when you roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows, frown, or purse your lips.  Your face must remain free of tension by relaxing your facial muscles before you meet with your employees.  Keep a natural or positive expression on your face throughout the meeting.


When communicating utilizing technology, look into the camera not at the person you are addressing which will not allow you to have eye contact.

Most people will judge you on what you do vs. what you say.  Be aware of your body language, improve your non-verbal communication and create a great company culture with both your onsite and hybrid or remote employees,  that will help you and them achieve goals.

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