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Great Managers End Censorship

Great Managers End Censorship

In this, the alive and well revolution of blogging and print-on-demand publishing, censorship is something we think of as very dark ages; surely it doesn’t happen anymore!

That may be true in the freedoms of your personal, unshackled life, but how about at work?

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The freedom of self-expression is one we say we cherish most of all, for we are sensitive, intelligent, and thoughtful human beings. We know stuff. We represent. We define. We influence. We stand up to be heard, and we should, for we have important opinions which should count. People need to hear us, and we need to hear them, so that the blending of our voices can clarify intentions, and thus smooth out all the rough edges of our challenging world.

Great Managers are fully aware that each of the people they manage embody a voice which needs to be heard in the world’s neighborhood we call At Work. Full, open expression enables the ‘everything else’ of essential communication, and it’s no different on the job if the work which is done is to count for something great too.

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Having this awareness, Great Managers ensure that they end any hint of censorship, and that when people have something to say they feel they have every freedom to say it. Censorship at work takes the form of self-censorship. For some reason, people feel inhibited and they don’t speak up.

This is a picture of what you, as a Great Manager, must create in your purposeful ban of perceived censorship;

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  • Your ‘Open Door’ policy is alive and well. Your workplace is abuzz with all-engaging conversations about everything and anything, and people feel confident that as their manager, you can handle it. There are no limits. Some conversations may be challenging, but they are always entered into with optimism and not with fear or dread.
  • ‘Channels of communication’ simply do not exist in terms of organizational hierarchies; instead, they are defined by working relationships, decision-reaching partnerships, and fluid project team dynamics. People talk to who they need to talk to so their work is best achieved, and they don’t look for an interpreter to accompany them. Everyone values messages where the messenger is the source.
  • Fear of repercussion has been banished, replaced by coaching. The Head Coach in healthy communication practices is you, the Great Manager, with the understanding that mistakes will be made, screw-ups will happen and unfortunate things will be said, but they all can be corrected with practice in a safe environment. Everyone at every level needs practice. No practice, no mastery.
  • ‘A good time to tell you’ is every time and any time. Great managers communicate with everyone in the workplace with remarkable consistency, even when they’re in a bad mood. The temperament of your responsiveness is predictable for people, and ‘predictable’ means pleasantly handled in a level-headed way, no matter when.
  • Constant conversation is part of the culture. People exercise their voice by means of a workplace expectation like The Daily 5 Minutes (a pdf follows). Innovative engagement happens because people converse constantly, and not just when something comes up which needs to be fixed. Conversation is to create synergy, not merely to solve problems in a civilized way.
  • “Put it in writing” isn’t said anymore, except for within the context of a multi-detailed, still-complex project. The spoken word is good enough, for one’s word is one’s honor, and follow-up happens. Email confirmation clutter decreases, idea mind-maps systematically replace progress reports, and your HR department stops asking you for your documentation.

Great Managers understand that having a workplace like this is something they must purposefully and diligently create. They manage catalytic workplace practices that are valued as company best practices; the ideas may not be original, but they have teeth to them, and they aren’t academic or business-speak, they are real. This is the work of great management; it’s your work.

To start, I give my Daily 5 Minutes to you freely: Adopt it and reap the benefits. Release the voices of those you manage from their self-censored silence, then listen well for the contributions they are sure to start offering you.

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Related Article: The 10 Beliefs of Great Managers
A Gift from Rosa: A pdf on The Daily Five Minutes, an excerpt from Managing with Aloha

Post Author: Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. She fervently believes that work can inspire, and that great managers and leaders can change our lives for the better. She writes for Lifehack.org to freely offer her coaching to those of us who aspire to be greater than we are, for she also believes in us. Writing on What Great Managers Do is one of her favorite topics.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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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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