How do you come across at work? Are you aware of any hidden messages you may be inadvertently giving your team? How self-aware are you?
Given that about 90% of what we communicate is non-verbal, it stands to reason that we need to be aware of what signals we are giving others. It is not what we say, but how we say it that has the greatest impact.
Imagine for a moment that you have just spent the last fifteen minutes on the phone placating a very angry customer. You feel irritated and frustrated and march off to your next meeting with a frown firmly planted across your brow.
In the corridor you pass your newest team member Alice. She stops and asks if you have a minute to spare. You glance at your watch and bark, ‘Yes, what do you want”. With the frown remaining firmly on your forehead, you rustle your papers, glance at your watch and look down the corridor in the direction you were heading.
Alice shifts her weight from one foot to the next and mumbles, “Well, I, I…”, You take a deep breath and say, “Look Alice, is it important, I am very busy?”. She replies, “No, no, sorry” and ducks off quickly. With mounting irritation you march off to bombard the unsuspecting people in the next meeting.
You will have unwittingly transmitted your emotions to Alice through your actions. The way you stood, your posture, the clenched jaw muscles, the frown, lack of eye contact and your tone all tell a story. You will most definitely have missed an opportunity to hear what Alice had to say and you have probably influenced the nature of any future conversations with her.
As leaders, we need to understand our emotions and recognise what sparks them.
Realising how we are feeling at any given moment gives us control, and allows us to choose more appropriate behaviours. The following practices increase awareness of yourself and how your behaviour impacts on other people;
- Observe how you react in different situations. Notice your feelings and any patterns or habits.
- Ask a friend or colleague how they perceive you.
- Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagine what they may be experiencing when they interact with you.
- Make a list of your strengths and use them
- Recognise your weaknesses and identify ways to develop them into strengths
- Use a coach or mentor to help you become more self-aware and manage your emotions
How aware are you of your emotions when you communicate with others?
Jenny Johnson – Leadership Coach