Understanding how to read body language can be hugely beneficial in 360 discovery sessions, allowing you to carefully calculate how an uncommunicative recipient is feeling. Equally, your body language as the HR professional leading the feedback is crucial. If you are tense and closed-off in the initial rapport stages you may be hindering your, and the recipient’s, chances of achieving transformation.
It is difficult to predict with certainty how an individual will respond; they may be open, intrigued and willing to work with you, or they may be upset, resistant and itching to leave the room. The latter ties in to the influence of our primitive brains. When our characters are questioned, it is a natural reaction to feel a flight or fight response – pushing already on-edge recipients to lock down, seek to end the meeting or get aggressive as a form of self-defence.
In terms of negative reactions to feedback, there are two key emotional responses you will need to be aware of:
There may be obvious signs that your recipient is upset, such as crying, but there are also physical bodily indicators. For example, an emotionally upset individual will;
+ Avoid direct eye contact
+ Excessively smile or exhibit nervous laughter in an attempt to ‘mask’ their emotions
+ Wring or wipe their hands to remove excess sweat
+ Present a nervous tick, such as picking their fingernails or tapping their foot
+ Repeatedly cross and uncross their legs
+ Present a hunched or ‘drooped’ body pose
+ Offer a flat or monotonous speech tone
In contrast a resistant individual, who is angry or frustrated rather than upset will:
+ Raise their voice
+ Gesticulate widely
+ Sit up straighter or improve their posture (a natural human response to take-up more space and therefore feel more powerful)
+ Place their hands on their hips in a typical ‘Superman’ pose – also linked to feelings of confidence
+ Present a reddening of the face, neck and chest
+ Clench their fists and/or jaw
+ Lean forward and in to the conversation
+ Hold eye contact
+ Blocked body including arms crossed high across the chest
Of course, it is possible for a recipient to show a combination of these body language indicators. In this scenario, and indeed the scenarios described above, your body language can be equally essential.
As a feedback provider you will need to:
+ Display open and relaxed body language
+ Smile and maintain eye-contact
And try to avoid:
+ Crossed arms and legs – this can give the impression of being closed-off or distant
+ Continually looking down to read notes, instead keep them on the table in-font of you a little to the right or left for ease of reading without facing away from the recipient
+ Looking around the room, which can be a sign of disinterest
+ Rubbing your eyes – this can be seen as a sign of weariness or exasperation
Being aware of body language signs during the initial rapport stage and throughout the Discovery Session process can help you, the feedback provider, ensure a safe and comfortable environment for the recipient; increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.
For more on this and other incredibly powerful insights and advice, get your copy of 360 Feedback : A Transformational Approach today.