Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Body Language and Leadership

Body language, non-verbal communication, includes posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements.

When people communicate, body language makes up 55% of our communication, 7% is our actual words, and 38% is tone (pitch, speed, volume) It is suggested by researchers that about 70% of all meaning in communication comes from nonverbal behaviour.

10 Body Language Mistakes Women Leaders Make
Body language can provide clues for us in our communication with others. It is also important to recognize the messages our own body language gives.

An interesting article, "10 Body Language Mistakes Women Leaders Make" in the Financial Post gives some interesting insights into body language, as well as the mistakes women can make.
Carol Kinsey Goman, Troy Media, Financial Post · Thursday, Jul. 15, 2010
There are two sets of body language cues that followers look for in leaders: warmth (empathy, likeability, caring) and authority (power, credibility, status). Although I know several leaders of both sexes who do not fit the stereotypes, I’ve also observed that gender differences in body language most often do align with these two groupings. Women are the champions in the warmth and empathy arena, but lose out with power and authority cues.
All leaders are judged by their body language. If a female wants to be perceived as powerful, credible, and confident, she has to be aware of the nonverbal signals she’s sending. There are a number of behaviors I’ve seen women unknowingly employ that reduce their authority by denoting vulnerability or submission. Here are 10 body language mistakes that women leaders commonly make.
The article goes on to describe the 10 body language mistakes women leaders make:
  1. They use too many head tilts, which while postive can also be submission signals.
  2. They physically condense (minimize their size and take up less space).
  3. They act girlish. (twirling hair, playing with jewelry, or biting a finger.)
  4. They smile excessively, while positive, it can also be confusing especially when a negative topic is being discussed.
  5. They nod too much. (When a woman nods, it can mean she agrees, is listening, empathizing, or encouraging, it also expresses encouragement and engagement, but not power.) 
  6. They speak “up.” (rise at the end of sentences)  
  7. They wait their turn. (In negotiations, especially, they need to learn to interrupt)
  8. They are overly expressive. (movements are large and passionate, calm and contained movements look powerful)  
  9. They have a delicate handshake.
  10. They flirt. (using the nonverbal behaviors of smiling, leaning forward suggestively, tossing their hair, etc.)
Read more:  Financial Post

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