Nonverbal Communication in the Virtual World

Smiley face and emoticon simple set with facial expressions isolated in white background. Vector illustrationAs you dash off a text message to your colleague in New York about a project you’re working on together, how are you feeling?

If you’re feeling like the second emoji in the top row, is your colleague likely to feel like the second-last emoji in the bottom row when he receives your text?

The truth is, even in virtual communications, nonverbal communication is present, whether we take advantage of the clever little emotional indicators available to us or not. Continue reading

The Potency of Nonverbal Communication

body language. man in business suit isolated white background. gestures of arms and hands. disguised gesture of crossing arms. wringing fingersIf you think nonverbal communication is just a nice addition to your real message, consider this: in a study of 2010 TED talks, 760 volunteers watched dozens of TED talks – some watched them with sound, and some only watched them, with the sound muted.  Regardless of whether they were actually hearing the messages, the volunteers rated the speakers comparably on charisma, credibility and intelligence.  All that information – just on the basis of nonverbal cues, for those who only viewed the muted talks!

Or think for a moment about Charlie Chaplin – entire stories were told in his movies with only body language. Continue reading

What Unspoken Agreements Guide Your Leaders’ Behavior?

shocked business manFatima shook her head in bewilderment as she talked about the company she joined six months ago in a managerial position.  “It’s so hard to acculturate here,” she said.  “There are so many unspoken norms.  If you ask people the ‘rules’, they can’t even express them.  But you sure know you’ve violated one when you accidentally bump up against it!”

Fatima’s experience is not unusual.  Organizational culture is a product of learned behavior over time.  It is one of the most difficult things to penetrate for leaders who join an organization, because the ‘rules’ are usually silent – not intentionally, but simply because they’ve formed over time like layers of magma from a once-active volcano.  Continue reading

What Guides Your Decision-Making?

principlesCarved into the granite wall of Northwestern Mutual, a financial services company, is this statement:

The ambition of Northwestern Mutual has been less to be large than to be safe; its aim is to rank first in benefits to policyowners rather than first in size. Valuing quality above quantity, it has preferred to secure its business under certain salutary restrictions and limitations rather than to write much larger business at the possible sacrifice of those valuable points which have made Northwestern Mutual pre-eminently the policyowner’s company.

-Executive Committee, 1888”

Continue reading

Approachable vs. Friendly Leader

Manager & Workers in logisticsToday’s leadership gurus tout the benefit of approachability in motivating employees to offer their best.  They can even make it sound like the signal characteristic of leadership: “Make being approachable the governing trait of your leadership.”  Approachability is indeed a meaningful characteristic of an effective leader.  The problem is that for some leaders, it’s unclear what it means – and doesn’t mean.  Given the mandate to enhance their approachability, they whiz along the spectrum toward a state that is more ‘friendly’ than ‘approachable’.  And worse yet, they don’t realize the potential risks in that overly-friendly behavior until they get blindsided.  Here are a couple of live examples: Continue reading