Are you reading your employees’ ‘tells’?

worker and boss talkingYour employees are bombarding you with verbal and nonverbal clues to their thought processes. By reading these clues from their words and their eyes, you can vastly improve your communication with them, according to authors Richard Bandler and John Grinder in their book Frogs Into Princes.

WORDS. What sort of words predominate an employee’s speech? Does she prefer “visual” terms, such as look, focus or perspective? Such “feeling” words as grasp, handle, smooth or rough? “Auditory” phrases such as “Sounds good to me,” or “That strikes a familiar chord”? By noting your employees’ preferred modes of expression and using terms to match them, you can increase your staff’s comprehension of your message.

For example, for a worker who favors visual terms, you might detail how the various stages of a project may look; while a worker with a preference for feeling terms might respond better to describing the sensations of doing the job well.

EYES. When an employee glances upward, she is generally processing images, while a downward glance indicates she’s internally debating an issue or deciding how she feels about what’s being said. When you notice an employee’s repeated tendency to glance upward during a discussion, you might try to find out what she’s “seeing.” Ask such questions as, “Can you see that happening?” or “Do you have a clear picture of what’s needed?”

When a worker repeatedly glances downward, try to tune into her internal discussion with a question like, “What do you think about this task?” or into her anlysis with a simple, “How does that make you feel?”

Practice noticing and adjusting to your employees’ processing systems. You may be surprised at how much your communication improves.