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The Sweet Spot: Using Body Language to Build Rapport and Influence with Employees

November 2017- Recap of our webinar "Build Rapport and Influence with Employees" with Jeff Baird, by Sarahbeth Jones, Content & Communications Specialist

Too friendly. Too intense. Not likeable enough. Not authoritative enough. It’s hard to strike a balance as a leader between too harsh and overly companionable. As part of Apex’s Toolbox Talk Series, Certified Body Language Trainer and Business Intelligence Manager Jeff Baird presented participants with a few tips on how managers can achieve that sweet spot of being both well-respected and well-liked.

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Tip #1: Build trust through familiarity and frequency
Friendship can be boiled down to a pretty simple formula: proximity + frequency + duration + intensity = friendship. The more we see and spend time with a person, the more likely we are to develop feelings of closeness with that person. To establish feelings of warmth, openness, and trust, managers should be present and maintain frequent interaction with their employees.

Tip #2: Utilize mirroring tactics
Whether you have consciously realized it or not, you have probably mimicked the body language of those you closely interact with regularly. This is a common body language technique called mirroring. We mirror each other – be it a particular posture, hand gesture, or head tilt – when we feel connected. Managers can mirror their employees to show they are engaged and interested during conversations. Subtle, subliminal gestures can make a big difference in the way people feel about you.

Tip #3: Give verbal and nonverbal signals to reiterate interest
We all give both verbal and nonverbal signals to show how we’re feeling on a daily basis. Managers can practice the following verbal and nonverbal cues to show employees they care: 1) active listening – restating what the other person is trying to communicate to show engagement; 2) friendship cues – quick body cues like an eyebrow flash, genuine smile, or tilted head can display empathy; and 3) the triple head nod – research shows that nodding your head three times slowly while listening to another person reinforces feelings of being heard and understood.

Tip #4: Maintain authority through body language
Managers don’t have to verbally reiterate their authority to gain respect. Simple body language cues can do the trick. Practicing power body language – head up, shoulders back, posturing your body to take up space as opposed to shrinking in your chair – gives an impression of confidence and power. Holding a power gaze – maintaining eye contact as opposed to letting your eyes wander high or low – also exudes authority.

While these tips can help managers strike a balance with their employees, Jeff emphasized that none should be overdone. Take cues from your employees too to determine if you are overdoing a particular strategy and compensate with others to reach an ideal level.

To listen to the full webinar, click here.
To register for upcoming Toolbox Talks, click here.

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