Monday, March 7, 2005

Slacker Manager: The unspoken language of...

The unspoken language of... the office. If a picture is better than a thousand words, then a person's body language has got to "speak" volumes. A lot of the focus on body language at work has been on how to avoid looking all twitchy and nervous. Not much is mentioned about how to use body language to get people out of your office. And I'm not just talking about that bare-toothed hiss that you've perfected. Here are a select few tips for your unspoken pleasure. Some are classics, others are more subtle. All are effective...

The Thousand Yard Stare
When you're done listening, but your conversational counterpart isn't done talking, consider the Thousand Yard Stare. Simply gaze at something way in the distance. Even if there's nothing but an unadorned wall behind them. This is so unnerving that most people stop talking almost immediately. The effect increases exponentially the farther you direct your eyes from their face. Staring directly over their shoulder is the most subtle and the farther your eyes stray from theirs, the more intense the effect. For additional oomph, throw in the Slack Jaw, where you breathe through your open mouth while staring into the distance.

The Slow Clap
The Slow Clap is exactly what it sounds like. S l o w c l a p p i n g. When your conversational counterpart says something particularly inane, the Slow Clap may save you some words you'd later regret. Three claps, adequately spaced, is usually sufficient to drive the point home. Use sparingly, as this technique drips with sarcasm and, when used unwittingly, will cost you friends. This is such an audible technique that somebody ought to include an example in their podcast.

The Stand
This is a powerful classic. Sometimes you've just got to get someone out of your office/cubicle so you can resume your solitare game. When other tactics fail, turn to The Stand. It's simple to implement. Just stand up. Take it easy, though. Too fast and you look like you're about to rush to the restroom. Too slow and you look like you're stretching your legs. No need to say anything upon rising. Just stand. If you're cramped for space when you stand up, don't give in--they'll move. Often they'll just say so long and be gone. If they don't take the hint, place your hand on the door to your office, or the edge of your cubicle opening. If all else fails, take advantage of their need to draw a breath and say, "Well, thanks for stopping by."

The Lip Smack
I must admit, this is a personal favorite. So much a favorite that it's lost some of it's effectiveness around my office. Everyone knows what I'm doing and they just make fun of me. I hope it works out better for you. To implement the Lip Smack, simply pretend that you're chewing gum loudly. The slower the better. Envision a cow chewing cud--that's about the rhythm you're aiming for. Don't be afraid to show that tongue. If your conversational counterpart hasn't witnessed the Lip Smack before, they'll be temporarily struck dumb. As I mentioned, this effect eventually wears off and they begin to make fun of you. You'll become a caricature of yourself. So don't overdo it.

The Fast Walk
Nothing says "urgency" like The Fast Walk. Incorporate The Fast Walk into your daily routine and watch people stay away from you. Turn it on as soon as you park the car at the office. The Fast Walk says you're busy. Combined with crossed arms, it says you're really, really angry. Unless you're walking in the direction of the restroom--use your own imagination to understand the unspoken message here.

There isn't a lot to say here. If people see you spraying Febreze on the seat of your chair, they won't come around much anymore. By the way, Febreze really does work!

I think I'll stop now. You can see the downward spiral that's happening here. Anyway, these are just a few tips learned along the flourescent illumined corridors of my working life. Hope it's helpful along your way. Of course, there are many, many more bits of body language that you'll encounter at work. Some are explicit, others more subtle. We may revisit this another time. Well, thanks for stopping by.

borrowed from