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Skeptical supervisor

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Question: Whenever I talk to my supervisor, she crosses her arms and moves here eyes around the room. I've always heard that this kind of body language indicates mistrust. Any suggestions about what I can do if that's true?  -- Worried


Comments

There is no reason to mistrust just from body language. Until you have reason, don't worry about that.

Sounds to me that she's not fully focused on what you are saying or is preoccupied. I have a friend who does the eye thing and sometimes, I just want to stop talking and say, "Yoo Hoo! Are you listening to me?" As for the crossed arms, I've always heard that means the person is "closed", not receptive to what you (or anyone else) are saying or putting a "force field" around themselves with their arms. But I wouldn't read anything into it as far as mistrust.

What about clearing up things with your supervisor before you go into your subject?

For example, "I sense you do not have a lot of time for this subject right now". Or, "Is everything o.k.?"

Let her respond.

Listen to her response. Paraphrase it back to her. For example, "You are very busy right now".

If this is a timing issue, ask her when you can meet again -- and follow up.

Body language can provide a valuable insight into another's mind; however, it is very mutable. The same gestures can mean a number of things. Based on the information above, your supervisor's actions could mean she's distracted, uncomfortable, or exceptionally busy. Chances are she doesn't even realize what she's doing. Since you are obviously concerned, I would schedule a time to discuss the communication issue with her privately, with no distractions. Be sure to allot enough time for the discussion so you can rule out her "busy-ness" as the problem.

I agree - I would use the body language thing as one factor to determine her attitude, and not use it as "gospel." You never know, it could be something very simple -- she could just be one of those people who is always cold!

I work for a boss who is often preoccupied when I talk to him. He will look at his e-mail, shuffle the papers on his desk, etc. when I go to talk to him. I have found that I can "wait him out" until he pays attention to me, or ask if there is a better time to talk to him about the issue. I don't take it personally; that's just his personality. Luckily, we have a very good working relationship in general, so I know that "it's not me, it's him!"

It could be that she is not aware of what she is doing. I would bring that to her attention because if she does this to others how would it be perceived? She should be made aware so she can correct it.

I would suggest going in there with an agenda or a list of things - so she is looking at that versus the ceiling or around the room, this gives you something to look at as well as staying on point and making the meeting more effective. My favorite is the QTIP method (Quit taking it personally) so what if she is doing that, no worries make it so she can't do that and or confront her about it, in a positive way not aggressive - she may not even realize she is doing it.

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