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7 Body Language Habits of Effective Managers

7 Body Language Habits of Effective Managers

Congratulations! You’ve reached the point in your career where you are managing other people. This means you have reached some success in your field–whether you are a stellar sales person, a seasoned financial planner, or a skilled architect.

But being deft with numbers or a killer negotiator doesn’t mean you know how to be the kind of manager people want to work for. In fact, many skilled professionals find themselves promoted into positions of authority without a clue how to convey the traits of a good leader.

If this sounds like you, it might be time to “fake it till you make it” and start taking control of the most powerful communication tool you have: your body language.

Here are seven leadership traits and the body language habits that will make your employees feel lucky to have you as their boss.

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To convey integrity, sync your words and actions.

1

    We tend to believe more of what we see than what we hear, so if you’re encouraging collaboration, don’t cross your arms or shove your hands in your pockets. If you’re extolling the bright future of a new product, don’t drop your gaze or shift in your seat. If you’re delivering bad news, don’t grin. And never give your attention, even for a second, to a text message or phone call. Better yet, leave your phone in your bag or at your desk.

    To convey authority, take up physical space.

    6

      Rather than slouch in your seat, sit up straight and tall. Deliberately extend your arms, legs, and even your belongings into the space around you. Place your hands on the armrests, stretch out your legs, or place a notebook on the table as an “extension” of yourself. When you take up space, you signal that you are engaged, present, and here to make decisions. When you curl up into your chair or shrink into a corner, you’re saying: I’d rather follow than lead.

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      To convey approachability, position yourself at an angle.

      11

        If you’re a more aggressive personality type who naturally takes up space and easily conveys authority, your employees may be intimidated by you. Your goal should be to help them feel comfortable approaching you and sharing their ideas. Next time you are in a one-on-one discussion, take note of your body position. Are you aimed straight on to the other person? Are you invading their space? If so, take a step back and stand (or sit) at a 45-degree angle. This changes the vibe of the conversation, taking pressure off the other person so they can relax, think, and regain composure.

        To convey control, keep your body still.

        4

          No matter how you might feel inside, never reveal impatience, anxiety, or boredom. Fidgeting, pacing, head nodding, leg twitching, toe tapping, face-touching, hair-pulling, chair-twirling–all of these behaviors signal a lack of self-control, which will not reassure your employees about your leadership abilities. If you’re a natural fidgeter, practice planting your feet firmly on the ground and letting your hands hang by your sides when you stand. When sitting, keep your lower body (and chair) in one place.

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          To convey confidence, show vulnerability.

          12

            People who lack confidence often use “self-soothing” body language that closes them off from others. Next time you are presenting to a group or talking one-on-one, observe your natural tendencies. Do you cross your arms, entwine your legs, put your hands in your pockets, or wring your hands? These behaviors signal insecurity and lack of confidence. Conversely, opening up your body shows vulnerability and signals confidence. So keep your shoulders back, chin up, hands by your sides, and legs uncrossed.

            To convey empathy, listen actively.

            13

              Sure, you’re busy; you’ve got a dozen things on your mind and a mountain of things to do. But if you’ve taken the time to talk to someone, don’t let your “busyness” show. Instead, make them feel like the most important person in your world. While they’re talking, make eye contact, cock your head to the side, nod, and match your facial expressions to the spirit of what they’re saying. When it’s your turn to speak, don’t be in a hurry. Pause, take a breath, nod, and consider everything you have heard. Then respond thoughtfully, repeating back the essence of what the person just said.

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              To convey high expectations, control your facial expressions.

              5

                Your facial expressions alone are capable of demoralizing your employees and diminishing their odds of success. Consider the subtle message you convey when you roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows, frown, or purse your lips. Before you enter a meeting with your employees, be sure your face is free of tension by stretching your jaw and relaxing your facial muscles. Then, keep a neutral or positive expression on your face throughout the meeting.

                How are your body language habits? Take the Quiz.

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                Sharen Ross

                Marketing Strategy Consultant

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                5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

                5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

                Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

                A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

                So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

                1. Take breaks

                First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

                If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

                This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

                There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

                According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

                It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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                Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

                If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

                If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

                Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

                Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

                One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

                When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

                Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

                All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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                For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

                You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

                You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

                In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

                Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

                That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

                That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

                Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

                3. Put your work first

                This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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                While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

                However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

                In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

                If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

                4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

                In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

                When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

                If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

                5. Try to be happy and optimistic

                If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

                This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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                If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

                Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

                Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

                15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

                Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

                All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

                While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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