Read your Team’s Nonverbal Communication Cues

In the hustle and bustle of getting more done with less, we often tend to concentrate on tasks rather than the individuals doing those tasks. Many companies have a core value of treating people with respect, but this can fall short with the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality that often occurs when meeting goals and objectives, especially on a lean budget. What can we do to change this?

Building healthy relationships with your team is key. Get to know your team with sincerity. Taking time to speak with individuals means you can get an idea of what that person’s “normal” is so that when they aren’t responding or behaving in a way that is “normal” for them, you are more likely to notice. When people are stressed both at work and outside of work, anxiety and frustration can escalate. This can lead to increased volume or tone in their verbal responses and may be noticed by physical responses such as slamming doors, stomping or abruptly leaving. If you’ve taken the time to build a healthy relationship with that person, you can pick up on those cues early and realize stress is likely a contributing factor, either from workload or personal circumstances.

The same holds true for the behavior of managers. As leaders, managers should be aware of how they’re being perceived. When I was an executive with Target, for instance, I would walk through the store mentally analyzing and creating plans. My forehead would often tense up, and because I was focused, I would give brief responses to my team members. These mannerisms came across to the team as me being in a bad mood or unapproachable. While that wasn’t my intent, I had to be aware of such perceptions and take steps to adjust my behavior.


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