Mar 09, 2020
Just Leave Your Shoes On
“Just leave your shoes on,” says Aunt Janet, as you and your family enter her front hallway. But you know your Aunt. And just by the way she’s standing, you can tell that she would really rather you took your shoes off. Unfortunately, your 13-year old son takes Aunt Janet at her word and before you can catch him, he bounds through the doorway and settles feet first, germy, muddy shoes and all, onto Aunt Janet’s couch. By her forced smile and heavy sigh, you sense that Aunt Janet is not impressed. And so, as soon as she turns her back, you tell your son to “Go right now, quickly, and take off your shoes!” Confused, he insists (and not very discreetly) that Aunt Janet said he could leave them on. So now you’re embarrassed and apologetic, your son is confused and defiant, and Aunt Janet is tight-lipped and disapproving. It’s going to be a great evening!
Sound familiar? It’s amazing how misreading a small nonverbal gesture, or a tonal cue, can set off a whole avalanche of emotion and miscommunication. Fast forward five years and that socially awkward 13-year old is now 18 and trying to navigate his way through his first job interview. Unfortunately, he didn’t make a great impression because he misinterpreted the prospective boss’s friendly tone as an invitation to be “friendly” and so he his prospective boss, a couple of jokes that he maybe shouldn’t have told, and he offered an overly familiar fist pump and a “Thanks buddy” instead of a handshake and more reverent “Thank you Mr. Boss” on his way out after the interview.
Aunt Janet would likely chalk her muddy couch up to “kids these days” having no common sense. And she may be right in that common sense isn’t as common as it used to be. But both the prospective boss and Aunt Janet would be wrong in assuming that it’s just young people who are lacking in it. You don’t have to look very far to see people of all ages and backgrounds, and at all stages in their professional careers who have seemingly lost their senses – well…their common sense – and ability to communicate effectively nonverbally at least. The ability to effectively interpret (and exhibit) nonverbal cues is called “social radar” and it is one aspect of social intelligence. Sadly, it is in the work world where presumably grownups with polished interpersonal skills and honed social savvy are leading the pack, where we see some of the lowest social intelligence being exhibited.
Call it social skills, call it courtesy, call it common sense, whatever you want to call it; fewer and fewer people seem to have it- referring to a developed sense of “social radar”. And this is particularly problematic in the workplace where having “it” can mean the difference between merely surviving and thriving.
This elusive “it” is comprised of behaviors such as:
Without question, social radar is an interpersonal skill that is essential for leaders. It is also critical to building strong relationships and underpins effective communication.
First, the bad news:
And now the good news:
Some social knowledge to help boost your nonverbal communication skills:
Clues and Cues when Listening, Greeting, and Building Rapport
Next time you are engaging with a co-worker, refer to the lists below and see if you can accurately assess whether someone is paying attention or not. Then review the actions and make a conscious effort to monitor your own gestures and cues when you are interacting with others.
Signs that you have someone’s attention- he/she is:
Signs that someone is losing interest- he/she is:
Signs that someone is uncomfortable or feeling awkward- he/she is:
Signs that someone does not believe you or is not buying in- he/she is:
Signs that someone may not be being entirely honest, he/she is:
Source: Civility Experts Inc. Workplace Communication Kit 2 Lesson 3, 2010
Lew Bayer, CEO Civility Experts Inc. is internationally recognized as the leading expert on civility in the workplace.
Patrick Dahdal and all the team at Transformation TV are thrilled to be working with Lew Bayer and sharing her unique message with the world.
Get to know Lew more and watch her f*r*ee TV show here:
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