Body language is a part of our everyday lives. Believe it or not, you use it even when you don’t intend to. As such, it’s a dead giveaway to even the untrained eye as to the emotion you’re really feeling or thinking. Body language is crucial for effective communications between leaders and their coworkers and project partners. Here are 4 body language tips for leaders:
1. Eye Contact
The first and most obvious tip is eye contact. It tells the person that you are truly engaged with them and interested in what they’re saying. By contrast, not looking at someone while you’re talking to them makes them feel unimportant. Moreover, it creates a sense of doubt. By the same token, you shouldn’t stare at them, either. That’s intimidating and downright scary! Keep your gaze soft. After all, it’s a conversation, not an interrogation.
2. Be Relaxed
Your posture is another very important aspect to your presence as a leader. If you stand or sit with a stiff, straight back and tense shoulders, you’ll be perceived as cold, rigid and unapproachable. Think of it this way: if your body is tense and hard like a brick wall, people will think that you’re a brick wall when it comes to conversations.
Keep your posture loose, your shoulders down, and — if you’re sitting — your legs relaxed. As a result, people will be happy to talk to you.
3. Be Aware of Your Arms
Think of your arms as a shield. If you have them crossed over your chest, your shield is up, protecting your body from harm. But in this case, it’s your mind you’re protecting. Even with your hands planted firmly on your hips, you’re still in a defensive mode, ready to use your arms to protect yourself. Instead, keep your arms comfortably at your sides. If you’re sitting, hang onto a table or chair. The visual cue will be that your arms are open, and therefore you are open to whatever the other person wants to say to you.
4. Practice Active Listening
While the tips before are all technically small parts of the larger term “active listening,” we tend to think of head gestures when we mention it. Relax your face muscles when you’re in a conversation with someone. Smile and nod during the natural pauses in a sentence to let the speaker know you’re listening and retaining what they’re saying.