Communicators and key execs need not only to speak effectively, they also need to listen and observe. For your next important meeting, keep in mind these nonverbal cues from executive coach Carol Kinsey Goman.
1. Women are more comfortable when being approached from the front. Men prefer approaches from the side. Likewise, two men speaking will angle their bodies slightly, whereas two women will stand in a more ‘‘squared up’’ position—a stance that most men perceive as confrontational.
2. When a man nods, it means he agrees. When a woman nods, it means she agrees—or is listening to or empathizing with the speaker or encouraging the speaker to continue.
3. To a woman, good listening skills include making eye contact and reacting visually to the speaker. To a man, listening can take place with a minimum of eye contact and almost no nonverbal feedback.
4. In corporate settings, women and men use touch differently. Women use touch to signal agreement, sympathy, compassion, connection and celebration. Touch among men is almost exclusively motivated by power—directed from the top down as a status marker.
5. Men expand into available space. They sprawl/sit with their legs spread or widely crossed, spread out their materials on a conference table and stretch out their arms on the back of a chair. Women condense by keeping their elbows to their sides; tightly crossing their legs; stacking their materials in small, neat piles.
PR News subscribers can read more about nonverbal communication in: "He Leads-She Leads: Gender Plays Big Role in the Body Language of Leaders."