You hear the words but do they mean it?


Have you ever had a conversation where it just didn’t feel right? You know there’s something wrong, but it is not in the words – or even in the tone of the conversation – but there is still something not quite right.

There’s a good chance that you are picking up on non-verbal cues – body language – without even realising that’s what you are doing. You may think “I don’t know anything about body language” but actually we all do – we just don’t pay attention to it. Think of a mime artist – can they convey a story or an emotion? You are reading body language.

When you are interviewing someone you will have a good feel for the outcome of the interview within a few seconds. First impressions include the way the interviewee moves and talks as well as their external appearance, and we are really good at picking up those signals.

You can use this inbuilt ability in the office. Take a look at the team, see if you can picture an individual’s emotional state. If you see someone who is having a bad day – whether that’s because there are problems at work, or something is going on at home – have a conversation with them.

How would you feel if, when you are having a bad day but you haven’t told anyone, the boss came over and offered support? You’d be more motivated and there’s a good chance you will relax & start doing an even better job.

Now I am not saying you should walk up to someone and say “You look as if you are having a bad day.” Perhaps they are, but perhaps it is entirely personal and private and they have no wish to share.

You might try something as simple as “How is it going?” but that can lead to just the facile “fine, thanks” response. More effective is an offer of assistance “How can I/we help today?”


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