Body Language: Don’t Be Deaf To Shouting

Body language experts say the two most important clues to the way someone thinks of you are the way he positions his heart and his feet. Someone who likes you will tend to position his heart (i.e., his chest) toward your chest. So if your boss/colleague habitually stands and sits askance when he’s with you, that’s not good. The feet are another indicator. Where they point indicates where the person connected to them wants to be.

If they are pointed in your direction, you are commanding considerable attention. If they are pointed out the door — well, you get the picture. If the body is pointed toward you, but the feet are pointed away, that indicates (not surprisingly) mixed feelings. These are the theories. But do they prove out in practice? I tried them out last night at dinner. When conversation turned toward philosophical matters and I started in with my theories about the incompatibility of men and women, KFF’s feet veered toward the door.

And this morning, when I told LH that I had made the business deal we were seeking, he squared his body’s frame toward me. Think about someone you work with whom you don’t like or feel comfortable with. How do you sit/stand with him? Assignment for the day: Study the body language of someone who is important to you. Take the chest/feet signals as strong indicators, but don’t stop there. Pay attention to what is said. And what is not said.

These are signs too:

* How does this person respond to your suggestions?

* How do those responses compare to others?

* When you walk into his office, does his voice sound strong and upbeat or tired and distracted? If you discover that one of your subordinates doesn’t like you, it doesn’t much matter, does it? But if it’s your boss/colleague, you’ve got to decide what you are going to do about it.

You have three choices:

1. Ignore it and continue the relationship as usual.

2. End the relationship because of it.

3. Try to change those feelings. You can change someone’s feelings toward you — but not by talking about them.

The trick to making someone feel differently about you is to act differently with respect to one or two key issues. You’ve got to find out the top things that he doesn’t like about you and change them. We can talk more about that — and we will — in a future memo.