Reactions Speak Louder than Actions: Guard Your Body Language

It doesn’t matter why they irritate you, when you are annoyed – whether you are the boss or the employee or a peer, it evokes a fight, flight or freeze response.  Your entire body literally displays your feelings.  Your reactions speak louder than your actions. How your body portrays your thoughts matters. As said by Blanca Cobb, body language and people watcher extraordinaire

This is the power of body language. Silent messages CAN be more credible than spoken words. There are situations where words whould sell you out before your body language.

People who “annoy you” make it difficult to work together.  Even if you think you are doing your best poker face (as in no reaction, no response), think again.  Your boss, the team and your coworkers see your reaction. Reactions speak louder than actions. 

The Team Dynamic

This unspoken yet noticed actions make it difficult to work together.  In a strange turn of human behavior, although it’s the other person that started this chain of events, it turns out it is your response that matters.  You have now become the annoyer.  Usually people who are annoyed by the same behaviors as you, will coalesce around your reaction.  They will flock to you and hang on your words and actions. This is good right?  Wrong. 

It’s just human nature.  Eventually team members will start to feel bad for the under dog.  Especially if you are the boss and you are the one reacting negatively.  Over time staff become fearful that it can happen to them. That you will treat them in the same way you react to the annoyer.  This sets off an environment of mis-trust, mis-Communication and fear.  As a result that definitely means no teamwork. 

There are several way to deal with your own reaction to annoying people:

1.  Instead of Reacting Have a Direct Conversation

Let the annoyer know how their behavior impacts you.  Be very specific in your conversation. For example you can say: “At team meetings when you interrupt me, I get frustrated and do not want to hear what you had to say, even though it might have benefited the team.”

2.  When You are Irritated by Someone, Ask Why They Act That Way

Often people don’t realize their behaviors set others off.  Once again the more specific, the better. You may ask: “Why do you always bring a mound of files to the team meetings, I find it distracting.”

3.  Smile Like You Have a Secret When Annoyed

Finally advice that is easy to do in every situation that annoys you. Smile a big smile (ear to ear) like you know something.  I like to say, Smile like you have a secret and let the annoyer wonder what you are smiling about. That alone often changes their behavior and fosters teamwork.    Even when you can’t help yourself, your smile will hide strong feelings.

I actually wrote a whole book on behaviors that make it difficult to work and manage teams!   You can find some new tricks to change your reaction and drive your work forward in my book and blog posts.  Or use the old fashioned method and send a text!


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