10 body language mistakes women leaders make
Dear all, this post was inspired by a discussion over phone I had during the long weekend with a friend of mine. The topic and related issues were 100% aligned to issues of how men and women leaders are being perceived and how frequently women do not help this situation. During this discussion I found myself going back to an article that I read in the Financial Post article “10 body language mistakes women leaders make” written by Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.
All leaders are judged by their body language. If a female wants to be perceived as powerful, credible, and confident, she has to be aware of the nonverbal signals she’s sending. There are a number of behaviors I’ve seen women unknowingly employ that reduce their authority by denoting vulnerability or submission. Here are 10 body language mistakes that women leaders commonly make.
- They use too many head tilts. Head tilting is a signal that someone is listening, but they are also subconsciously processed as submission signals.
- They physically condense. One way that status is nonverbally demonstrated in a business meeting is by physically taking up room.
- They act girlish, women are viewed as much less powerful when they pacify with girlish behaviors (twirling hair, playing with jewelry, or biting a finger.
- They smile excessively. While smiling can be a powerful and positive nonverbal cue, when excessive or inappropriate, smiling can also be confusing and a credibility robber.
- They nod too much. When a man nods, it means he agrees. Excessive head nodding can make females look like a bobble-head doll.
- They speak “up.” Women’s voices often rise at the ends of sentences as if they’re asking a question or asking for approval.
- They wait their turn. In negotiations, men talk more than women and interrupt more frequently.
- They are overly expressive. Women who express the entire spectrum of emotions often overwhelm their audience.
- They have a delicate handshake. Women with a weak handshake are judged to be passive and less confident.
- They flirt. Women gain likeability, but lose the competitive advantage in a negotiation when they flirt.
For any woman leader this article is a must read. It also would help if you try consciously to notice if you display any of the behaviors listed below. If you do, rather than being disappointed (and I know you will be) think about ways of addressing them. It certainly will make you feel a bit better. It will give you a positive focus on the situation. Also, if there is someone who you trust and can rely on for their advice ask them to be your “buddy” and observe you for a week and then let you know what they think? Perhaps you can help each other and improve your leadership skills?