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6 Body Language Mistakes Managers Make (Are You Guilty?)

As a leader, it’s important that your communication is sincere and authentic, explains leadership and communications consultant Catherine Hollyman, as your body language will give you away.

“Body language is primal. It automatically reflects our core emotions. Because it is instinctive, our body language tends to reveal our truth. So, if we’re lying, it is our body language that will expose us,” explains Ms Hollyman.

When you manage or lead a team, your team is acutely attuned to your physicality – your body language, your facial expressions, your gestures, your positioning and movement, even your stillness!

“All these are nonverbal communication signals that are open to interpretation by your stakeholders,” says Ms Hollyman.


Mistake #1 Avoiding Eye Contact

Eye contact is an important non-verbal communication cue that lets people know they have your attention and that you are interested in them or the topic they are discussing.


“If you can’t meet your team in the eye, they’ll start to question your sincerity.


Mistake #2 Not Smiling

Looking too serious can negatively impact the way others relate to you, and a smile goes a long way having positive interactions with others.


“A smile will make your team and others feel comfortable around you.”


Mistake #3 Sitting at the Head of a Meeting

Whether it’s the boardroom or meeting room table, if you want to be a team player, not just the leader of the team, try mixing it up and sitting amongst your team members.


Mistake #4 Sending Mixed Signals

Imagine ​you’ve just delivered a presentation and opened it up to Q&A. You tell your team (or colleagues) that you’re here to openly and honestly answer any questions they might have…and then you fold your arms across your chest!


This looks defensive. You need your body language to echo what you’ve just said – aim for a neutral position, arms by your side or out in front to encourage people to put up their hand.


Mistake #5 Appearing Distracted

When in conversation make sure you’re not looking at your phone, computer of tablet. We know you’re busy, but one of the most important gifts you can give me as your employee, is your presence – your time, focus and attention.


If I get that from you, I’m far more likely to give you/the business my time, focus and attention in return.


Mistake #6 Not Flexing Body Language to Suit Others.


Listening to the body language signals your team members are sending you and try to match and mirror it so your team (or colleagues) feel comfortable in your presence and more receptive to your message.


If you want to develop leadership skills that clearly and sincerely represent who you are, your non-verbal communication will speak volumes, explained Ms Hollyman.

“As a manager or someone in a leadership role, you need to practice being as clear and articulate with your body language as you are with your words and your voice.

“Your non-verbal communication signals need to work in harmony with what you are verbally saying and how you are saying it.

“Any inconsistencies could result in your team getting confused as to which is the truth.

“They’ll start to question which signals they should trust and may attribute inconsistency with insincerity and start to lose trust in you as a leader,” said Ms Hollyman.


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