As a speaker at conferences, team events, meetings and forums, get the pleasure of looking out at the audience as I present. I am always fascinated by what people are saying without saying anything at all.
While I was waiting to be introduced a while back as I had arrived early, I had the opportunity to watch the large group of employees listening to their upper managers present some changes that would occur in the workplace. The conversations that took place amongst the employees, without any words, were very telling.
There was the “told you so” face, a colleague indicating to the person next to them that they knew this would happen or perhaps doubted the intention behind the message. There were many “they can’t do this to us” looks exchanged between wide eyed and unhappy employees. There was also the arm crossed “go ahead… see if you can get me to buy in” look. There was also the whispering “how dare they, don’t they know who they are talking to?” and, there were lots of smiles and “Finally! YES! I’ll buy in, anything to make this place a better place” look. Often we become distracted by the few individuals, the 20%, whose attitude is showing the loudest, instead of focusing on the 80% whose attitude will actually help the situation at hand.
If we could all walk around with a mirror attached to our neck, we’d have the advantage of seeing what messages our face sends to others, and being warned much earlier when our attitude is showing. You see, in situations of conversation gone bad, often the root cause is reactions to non verbals.
Three tips to respond to people’s attitude showing:
· Ask questions instead of making an assumption. If you are not certain what a non-verbal gesture or look means, ask. There is a likelihood that the individual is not even aware that his/her attitude is showing.
· Resist the temptation to let your attitude follow theirs, unless of course it is a positive one!
· Be curious! When you are curious, you can explore what is behind their non verbal communication or attitude that is showing.