How Your Body Language Is Hurting You

Imagine the following unfolding in a boardroom: the CEO is holding his head in his hands, both palms covering his entire face. The person reporting to him is leaning back in his chair, ankle on knee, hands behind his back. The subordinate seems to be totally oblivious to the CEO. Even without hearing the words being spoken, what conclusions can you draw from this scenario?

My perception of the message was: “To hell with all of you. I didn’t meet the commitments I made. I don’t care, and there’s nothing you’re going to do about it.” Without intending to, and totally undermining his own credibility and long-standing relationships.

Was this his intended message? Probably not. He works in a high-stress, highly volatile, deadline driven world. He’s good at what he does. I assume he wants to see the company succeed and grow. So why the subtle but loud message that contradicts this?

Bottom Line:

1. Watch your own body language. Especially when you’re under the gun.

2. When reporting, give the results first and the story second. You get paid for results, not effort.

When you’re reporting to your boss, you’ve either delivered what you promised, or you haven’t. If you haven’t and you start be describing all the effort (not the result) you’re not fooling anybody. If you have and you start with the story, you’re giving the (false) impression that you’re making excuses.

Question for the Comments:
Try to be aware of your body language and how it affects the people around you for the next week. What did you notice?

Other articles you may find interesting:
Body Language Basics for Dates and Job Interviews
How Science Can Teach You to Spot a Liar
How To Build Relationships Without Talking

Bernie works as a leadership and business coach, consultant, and facilitator. He believes there are simple things outstanding leaders do well, and that not to do anything about bad leadership once you know about it is abuse. Check out what he does with RESULTS.com

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