Posts Tagged ‘miscommunication’

The Important Messages of Body Language and Leadership Style

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

When leading a team, body language as simple as eye contact or the crossing of the arms can convey a significant positive — or negative — message to employees.  There are two sets of signals a business leader can communicate using just their body language.  The first type of signal translates the leader’s status and authority.  The second type of signal can convey warmth and empathy to the team members. body_language_gesture

Status and authority can be seen in how a leader carries themselves.  For example, a person’s posture when entering a room or sitting at a meeting can give off a signal of power and authority. Open hand signals, nodding one’s head, and making eye contact can promote feelings of warmth within a leader to the rest of the team.  Stand or sitting up straight, making expansive gestures, and hold your shoulders back exudes a confidence in your leadership skills and what you are saying. When feeling less confident or uncertain people tend to shrink, minimize the space they take up.  Legs and arms crossed, pulled in tight or slouching is a way to send a message of lack of confidence or even discomfort in the situation or discussion.

For the most part these gestures are unconscious.  Recognizing and being aware, paying attention to what your body is saying is important if you want to be seen as a leader. Awareness of your body language, projecting a positive and even powerful body language can actually transform how you see yourself.

There is no good or bad body signal per se, but these signals can be used to either unknowingly or deliberately support or sabotage a message when relating to the team as a leader.  As an experiment, a very gifted speaker delivered an incredible speech and concluded by asking if there were any questions and then crossing his arms. Not a single question was asked. The audience, without realizing it, saw this gesture as a complete contradiction to his request for questions.

Similarly, if a leader or speaker is less than 100% confident and certain of the message they are delivering to their audience, it will show in their speech, their body language, and even in their choice of words.  In order to appear confident, leaders have to believe in what they are saying and assure their non-verbal is congruent.

Signals of warmth and empathy are equally important qualities of a good leader. Communication during one-on-one time with an employee, or when delivering a difficult message to a group of employees is crucial to gaining support and trust.  Showing emotion through eye contact and facial expressions will tend to level the field of authority with your employees, and give them the confidence and feeling of trust they need to be honest and open with their leaders. You want to be a trusted leader with your employees and by projecting true empathy and approachability, your team responds accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding communications as a leader, please contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team. We know that providing excellent direction in effective leadership is the very core of effective management.



CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI member with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Five Common Causes of Miscommunication in the Workplace and How to Avoid Them

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Opinions won’t always match. Staff won’t always share the same point of view. Miscommunication is inevitable.

In the workplace miscommunication can be blamed for a significant amount of conflict and the tension that it stirs. It would be unrealistic to think all miscommunication could be prevented, but if we understood its causes, the percentage could likely be decreased. Five common causes include:

1) Being unaware of nonverbal communication

A significant portion of miscommunication occurs without recognition. Through nonverbal cues, communication is often misconstrued and misrepresented.  An individual’s facial expression and body language movement can be a powerful message that is delivered involuntarily. Recognize your message may be perceived different than originally intended. Take the time to accurately analyze yourself. Concentrate on your tone of voice, your eye contact and your body language.

2) Poor communication between employees and company management

For communication to be fluid between employees and management staff, communication must remain open, reachable and approachable. Ineffective communication begins to stir when employees feel as though their voices aren’t being heard. Have management check in with their staff members regularly. Hear their concerns and their successes. By having consistent conversations, potential problems can be avoided.

3) Not grasping the company’s global vision

What’s the big picture? The company president and those at the management level understand the company’s progression, but do all employees identify with the overall vision and growth process? This is a window that is sometimes overlooked, but expressing the global perspective of a company five, 10 and 15 years down the road allows employees to understand where they fit into the business strategy.  Employees become more efficient and feel more valued when they can visually see their role in the puzzle of the company.

4) Making assumptions

Promote an environment of open communication where employees feel as though their questions and concerns are welcomed and accepted. Without this style of communication, employees often make assumptions because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and we know what happens when people act off assumptions alone.

5) Lack of ownership

Where is the accountability? An essential part of functionality is for all members to fully understand and be aware of the roles that are played. Without accountability, employees subconsciously become comfortable dumping duties and shifting their weight onto another’s plate, opening the door for future problems to transpire.  The system of the company, as anticipated, will ultimately fail unless employees recognize that their role is not only important, but it is critical to the overall success of the organization.

CAI offers a number of programs to help improve communication in the workplace.  For additional information please go to or call (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: kimba