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Question
Posted by: Sunchime | 2012/05/22

My rolling eyes boss.

Hallo Cybershrink!

I hope you are well.

As I read through all the questions you still need to answer, I''m questioning if mine is of any relevance at all! But " OK"  here goes.

I''m a manager in a business unit and lead a team of 10 people. I''m fairly new at this management thing. I''m an extrovert and thrive on feedback - positive or negative.

I have a Director that I report to directly. He however is NOT an extrovert and does NOT thrive on feedback. However this is not where my problem lies - it has to do with his body language during weekly meetings.

My fellow manager and I report back on projects to my Director on a weekly basis. He has this very awkward way of NOT looking you in the eye as you give feedback making me cringe. As I give feedback I''m constantly hearing this voice in my head telling me " he''s not happy - he''s not making eye contact" !!! How can I either make myself believe it is " OK"  for him to act this way, or is there a very polite way of pointing out to him that eye contact would mean the world to me... *sigh*.

Warm regards
Sunchime

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Clearly, his behaviour makes you both feel uncomfortable, but remember that it VERY strongly suggests that in any such human contacts, it is HE who really feels most uncomfortable. He's probably just as uneasy and uncomfortable with anyone else, and even when alone.
Purple's suggestion, and Liza's. are eminently sensible.

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Liza | 2012/05/22

First off - ignore that voice in your head. Some people are very shy and find it difficult to make eye contact. I''m one of those people. I frequently have to force myself to make eye contact.

Does he actually roll his eyes while you''re giving feedback? You say that he doesn''t make eye contact, but there is a difference between avoiding eye contact and actively being rude by rolling his eyes. If he''s being rude you might need to lodge a grievance with HR. If he''s just avoiding eye contact - and does it with everyone, you might have to make peace with the fact that this is the way he is and has absolutely no reflection on you.

Just remember that it''s very easy to misread body language. Body language has no grammar or spell checks to ensure that the meaning is always the same. So try not to put too much importance on his body language.

Good Luck
Liza

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Purple | 2012/05/22

Could you perhaps ask for a one on one meeting after such an incident took place and then mention to him politely that you aren''t quite sure what to make of him not wishing to look you in the eye. Tell him you feel quite uncomfortable, as if you have done something wrong and he is too embarassed to tell you directly. This will at least draw his attention to what he is doing if he''s not aware of how it makes others feel. Or he might say yes, this or that has been bothering him and he would actually like to talk to you about it and stop giving you the side eye.

There are some cultures where looking someone in the eye is considered offensive, but that is a junior person looking a seniors person in the eye - a senior person is quite free to look a junior person in the eye without giving offence.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/05/22

Clearly, his behaviour makes you both feel uncomfortable, but remember that it VERY strongly suggests that in any such human contacts, it is HE who really feels most uncomfortable. He's probably just as uneasy and uncomfortable with anyone else, and even when alone.
Purple's suggestion, and Liza's. are eminently sensible.

Reply to cybershrink

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