What Is Your Body Language Saying?

I have lost count as to the number of leaders who have asked me whether it is appropriate to ask your staff to turn on their camera, and my response has continuously been a resounding YES, so I decided it was time to blog about it for our readers.  

In the virtual world of work, it is important that you are using your camera for meetings and discussions that require you to leverage your EQ and really tap into how others are feeling. How else can you dial into their emotions and mindset if you cannot see them?

Here is why it is so important.

Communication means more than just speaking and listening. It means knowing when to speak and listen, and it also means understanding the messages you send through nonverbal communication. Body language is just as critical to your communication as speaking, writing, or listening, and leaders who use their body language wisely can reap the benefits of a much more engaged and productive workforce.

Some Facts About Body Language and Leadership:

  • Research has shown that 80-90 percent of a message’s meaning comes from the nonverbal aspect. More conservative estimates say body language accounts for 60% of a message’s meaning. Regardless, your body language is probably saying more than your words, so it is important that you are aware of how you are showing up.
  • Body language includes your facial expressions as well as your gestures and posture.  
  • Those who are more emotionally intelligent read nonverbal cues more effectively, and they show more awareness of their own body language.
  • Most body language is conveyed unconsciously — if you aren’t sure what your body language is saying, you are not alone. You can always leverage self-awareness to improve your ability to communicate through body language and be more aware of your facial expressions, gestures, and posture.
  • Effective leaders align their body language with the way in which they are communicating to enhance their message and connection with others. The things they say are reinforced — not contradicted — by the way they leverage their body language.

Are You Aware of What Your Body Language Is Saying?

If you want to refine your body language to become a more effective communicator and leader, it starts with your level of self-awareness. Pay attention to the way you show up in person and on camera. What facial expressions are you exhibiting and what are you saying with your gestures and posture? When in person, take note of how you treat the personal space of others. Are you making them uncomfortable by occupying their space, or are you allowing them the physical space they need to feel comfortable?

Are you stoic and hard to read or are you showing engagement by nodding, smiling, and using more open gestures? Could you be confusing others with a lack of expression or gestures that convey an uninterested or a distracted mind?

You can curb unhelpful habits with increased self-awareness and incorporate more productive ones that will make you a better communicator and leader.

Posturing, Intimidation and Bad Body Language 

Some leaders are so magnetic and charismatic with their body language that they draw attention and command respect regardless of their actual leadership abilities.

We all know someone who can command a room and draw in everyone’s attention, whether in person or on camera. They exude authority and they have a way of making people stop to listen whenever they are present. The bottom line is this – read the room, whether in person or virtual and adjust your non-verbal communication approach accordingly.

Being overly animated with body language might send the wrong messages, so we need to be mindful about being authentic and aware of how we are being perceived by others.

It is possible to overuse body language if we are not careful, especially if you are a passionate leader and are extroverted. Leverage your EQ and tune in to what is required from you in the moment, and adjust your body language accordingly so you do not undermine your own leadership capabilities.

Leadership requires connection with others and the ability to hone your communication skills for the betterment of your team, your organization and hopefully for everyone you come into contact with in the world around you.

Balanced Communication for Effective Leadership

As a leader, one of your primary goals should be to practice effective, balanced and aligned communication. You need to say what you mean, and mean what you say. But you should also ensure that the messages you send through verbal (spoken and written) and nonverbal communication are consistent and in alignment with each other. Additionally, you should put just as much effort into listening as you do conveying the right messages.

Through the practice of self-awareness and time spent developing your emotional intelligence, you can improve your communication skills including body language tremendously.

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts about the importance of body language for effective leadership? Have you had to change the ways in which you engage in nonverbal communication as a leader? Have you noticed leaders using body language effectively (or ineffectively)? What did that look like?

I would love to hear from you and continue the conversation on this important topic, so please reach out to me today at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or contact me at 1-855-871-3374. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Ready to partner with LeadersEdge to drive organizational performance?

connect with us