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I Am A Difficult Boss And I Know It

I Am A Difficult Boss And I Know It

Every leadership book I have ever read has outlined a long list of the different types of boss that a person can be. There’s the micromanager, the dictator, the abuser and the complete and utter idiot. There’s also the boss that can’t delegate, does not trust their team and has a hard time letting go.

These are all examples of bad bosses. A boss who cannot get over themselves enough to lead their team into battle is not a leader. That boss is a coward.

Out of all the leadership books on my shelf, I have yet to come across one that describes the kind of boss I am.

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I am a difficult boss. I know what I am. My team knows what I am. Even other managers know what I am.

From the outside, my management style is confusing. For those who are too used to dealing with the bosses already mentioned, I am an enigma. From the outside, I look like I might fall into the bad boss category. But if you spend five minutes on a team with someone like me, it becomes clear that I am not mean, controlling or an idiot. I am simply difficult.

A Difficult Boss Is Not a Bad Boss

Difficulty is a word with many negative connotations. Because of these preconceived ideas, too many people associate difficult bosses with being a bad boss. There is nothing further from the truth. A difficult boss will not shout obscenities at their team for the sake of it. They know how to delegate and how to trust the right people.

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A difficult boss is not a bad boss at all. In fact, a difficult boss is the kind of boss that anyone who wants to grow in their position wants to have. A difficult boss pushes you to become the best version of yourself at work. It’s a leadership style that sits comfortably between the overbearing boss who will only excuse you from a meeting if your dead and the kind of boss whose team walks all over them.

A Difficult Boss Is Not a Mean Boss

I do not heap praise on my team for mediocre work. For some people, this seems a harsh thing to say. In my eyes, it is not harsh. It is merely pragmatic.

A good boss values their employees. They will say please and thank you and recognize that they need their team to succeed. As a difficult boss, I do all of these things. I thank my barista at Starbucks for giving me the coffee I need to get through the day, why would I not thank my team?

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But while I understand social cues, I am not about to tell my team that they have done a fantastic job when they haven’t. Handing out praise left and right does not benefit anyone. My employees have to work to earn sincere and enthusiastic praise.

But if you ask them whether they think I am mean, they will tell you no. In fact, they appreciate that the praise they get is sincere and duly earned. It just feels better to know that when your boss tells you you’ve done a fantastic job, you actually did do a great job!

A Difficult Boss Wants More

As a difficult boss, I am not hard to please just because I feel like being that way. The reason that I demand more from my team is because I want more for them. I want to help them grow and develop both professionally and personally.

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I’m not an army drill sergeant. I do not need to berate my employees to force them to transcend their boundaries. But the principle is the same. You do not get what you do not ask for in life. I ask for more of my employees so that they give more. It is that simple.

A Difficult Boss Wants You To Grow

I do not want more for my team for my own gain. That kind of boss is a bad boss. Of course, I stand to benefit when my team excels. Wanting more for my team is about wanting them to grow.

I believe in my team and I know they are good, honorable people. But I also know that everyone sometimes need an extra incentive to reach their potential. In fact, I need that extra boost myself. When I see my team working to reach their potential, I am inspired to keep pushing myself along with them. That does not make be a bad boss or a selfish boss. It makes me a leader.

I am a difficult boss. Anyone will tell you that. But I am not a bad boss. If I was a bad boss, you would not be able to question it.

Featured photo credit: ylmworkshop via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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