Deafening Language of Office Barricades (1 min read)

How firm is your handshake? How do you stand to project confidence?

“Body language” has crossed from FBI interview techniques to mainstream personal impact strategy. Informed by countless books, articles and courses, we can spot a “power pose” across a packed networking meeting, mirror cross our legs and arms to build rapport with our boss and sit “openly” for the 360 feedback session.

What about the language of your office space? It speaks louder than you might imagine.

Recently I was taken on a tour of a client’s office. The Board opted for an open plan office to promote “free-flowing communications” and “close teamwork”. From the doorway I could see a shantytown of oversized plants, double computer screens, multi-storey paper trays and skyscraper piles of files and empty (I think) pizza boxes. “Where are the people?” I asked my tour guide. He replied (puzzled): “Behind the desks of course”. On closer examination, I discovered all 38 employees.

Knowingly, or unknowingly, that office said in Gollum-like tones: “My private space.
KEEP AWAY. Trespassers will be prosecuted”. I understood why few employees asked for help or shared key project developments with their team. The physical barricades reflected the psychological barricades. Both intended to hide vulnerability inherent in asking for help, sharing a challenge, accepting and giving feedback.

Taking down these barricades requires time – time to build trust and connections. Move too briskly and you risk setting off the impenetrable defence barriers. I find
that as people start talking to each other the office barricades come down on their own. “Good Morning” is a good start.

What does your office space say about you and your team?

For information on communications and team coaching please contact Natalia for a free consultation.

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