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Have you ever noticed how the atmosphere can change immediately if the boss comes into the office in a bad mood?
We might bury our heads a little more deeply into our work, avoid eye contact or try to become invisible. You can sense the change in the air and it feels uncomfortable.
Human beings are social creatures; we pick up on the subtle clues that each of us give off and respond to them accordingly.
We’ve all been in the situation where someone we know has looked upset or ‘down’. Straight away we’ve offered assistance, or sympathy, or maybe felt uncomfortable and moved away.
Much has been written about the more subtle aspects of communication, such as the physical postures we adopt, the tone of the voice we use and how we assert ourselves through our behaviour.
We can use this scientific work to discuss and analyse our own behaviours and experiences and change them to control how we affect others.
These studies also tell us that portraying an emotion which is not genuine, such as pretending to feel sympathetic towards someone, will appear inauthentic (and sometimes manipulative) if it doesn’t match how we actually feel.
Of course, we tend to apply this knowledge to others, but how often do we consider what information we’re giving off ourselves?
One thing that is certain, by changing our physical and emotional state before we enter a room we can make a very different impact on the people within, and this has a knock on effect that goes beyond the obvious.
If you’ve not slept well, or you’re feeling a bit rough, the chances are that someone is going to pick up on the subtle clues you give off and ask ‘How are you feeling? or ‘what’s wrong?’ They will do it in a tone of voice which is actually saying, ‘you look rough!’ This type of question might make you feel better, but more often than not it’s going to draw attention to how rough you feel.
How about if you walk into the room angry, frustrated or agitated? We may mistake the response we see as people being busy, but is this actually people avoiding eye contact and confrontation? Are your team giving you the impression of diligence and productivity?
We’ve all had good days, where it feels like everything just slots into place. What information and signals were you giving off then?
The secret is in the subtle information we give off, how we hold ourselves and something as simple as the smile on our faces. This gives off signals that we are more approachable, more positive, and more engaged in both a physical and emotional perspective.
When things don’t go as we planned it’s all too easy to blame others, but we need to look at what could we have done differently. It’s likely that we didn’t communicate our wishes in a clear or positive manner, or didn’t come across to our colleagues as positive or supportive.
The really good news is that good communication is not about learning techniques, it’s not about passing exams or gaining a qualification; it’s simply about awareness.
When we become aware of our emotional state we can make a choice. We can take a breath and instead of carrying on regardless, take a moment to change our mood and ensure that we communicate in a more authentic, effective way. It’s down to us to influence our staff and colleagues and make the workplace a happier and more productive place.
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