The Body Language of 'Horrible Bosses'.
By Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.
Monday, 18th July 2011
A sadistic puppet-master who verbally abuses and humiliates, a coke-addicted lunatic who berates and blackmails, and an over-the-top nymphomaniac who subjects her assistant to constant sexual harassment – these are the 'horrible bosses' played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston in a recent movie.
In real life, horrible bosses don't have to go to extremes, or even say a word, in order to demean, intimidate or discount employees. An eye roll, a smirk, a "whatever" shoulder shrug, an expression of disgust or contempt – all of these send their own clear signals.
From the results of a recent survey of over 200 business professionals, here are the top twelve body language behaviors of less-than-ideal bosses.
You may not be a "horrible boss," but you sure look like one when:

1. You stop in the middle of a discussion and simulate golf swings once you begin to lose interest.
2. You constantly interrupt or talk over a staff member as if the person hadn't been speaking at all.
3. You ignore all underlings in the corridor, even if the employee extends a greeting, but you make sure to acknowledge your fellow executives.
4. You roll your eyes and grimace at any comment that differs from your own point of view.
5. You send nonverbal signals of exclusion and disinterest when members of your team are talking: You look away, lean back, cross your arms and legs, tilt your head in a "looking-down-the-nose" position, and angle your torso away from the speaker.
6. You conduct every conversation with female staff members with your eyes on their chests.
7. You check your e-mail, shuffle papers, work on your computer, take phone calls, and clip your fingernails while meeting with employees.
8. You announce an "open door" policy and glare at anyone who dares to enter your office without an appointment.
9. You call for staff meetings and routinely forget to show up.
10. You pat a team member on the head while telling him he did a good job.
11. You lean over your assistant, and invade her personal space, to check her paperwork or computer screen.
And (drum roll) my personal favorite -- which actually stopped the meeting cold . . .
12. You lean across the table toward a subordinate, stretch out your arm and make a loud "shushing" sound while wagging your hand (fingers to thumb like a snake head).
These are the responses of people in my survey -- but I'd love to hear from you. Email me at CGoman@CKG.com and let me know your experience with the body language of horrible bosses.

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is an executive coach, change-management consultant, and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. She's an expert contributor for The Washington Post's "On Leadership" column, a leadership blogger on Forbes.com, a columnist for "the Market" magazine, and the author of  "THE SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS: How Body Language Can help – or Hurt – How You Lead." To contact Carol about call 510-526-172 or email CGoman@CKG.com.

To more information or to view videos, visit Carol's website: www.SilentLanguageOfLeaders.com

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