When it comes to communicating in the workplace, body language says it all.
And any manager with a firm understanding of an employee’s involuntary reactions to situations can better determine who’s committed — and who’s not.
The American Management Association created this list of body language signals that managers should familiarize themselves with.
Feel free to pass these on after you’ve mastered the list yourself.
Head to toe
Eyes: A decrease in eye contact will be your first clue for a disengaged employee. When their eyes go from wide open to slightly narrow, almost squinting, it means they’re having trouble understanding.
Mouth: Pursed lips, clenched jaw muscles, or a turned head with sideways eye contact are all signs of disagreement.
Torso: When shoulders are turned away from whoever is speaking, you’ve lost them. Engaged people will face you directly, with their torsos pointed in your direction. Someone shielding their torso from you with a purse, briefcase or laptop is a sign of defensiveness.
Legs: When their feet are pulled away from you, wrapped tightly together, pointed toward the exit or wrapped around legs of a chair, it’s a sign of withdrawal.
When you spot this behavior, check your own body language to make sure you aren’t reciprocating this.
Then consider changing your approach. For instance, you can force them to open up by making them move around by handing them paperwork, or even a cup of coffee.