Tag Archives: Authority

Gender Differences in Emotional Expression: Smiling

Previous blog posts have outlined dilemmas women face in being seen as competent yet  “likeable” in negotiations.

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld of Stanford and researcher Carol Kinsey Goman note that women can increase perceived authority. if they smile when situationally-appropriate instead of consistently.

Simine Vazire

Simine Vazire

They imply that observers assign different interpretations to women’s smiles than to men’s smiles.
Washington University in St. Louis’s
Simine Vazire teamed with Laura Naumann of University of California, Berkeley, University of Cambridge’s Peter Rentfrow, and Samuel Gosling of University of Texas to investigate gender differences in the meaning of smiling behavior.   

Jacob Miguel Vigil

Jacob Miguel Vigil

They drew on University of New Mexico professor Jacob Miguel Vigil‘s theory that emotional behaviors promote attraction and aversion, based on others’ perceived:

  • Power to provide resources or harm (dominant, masculine behaviors)
  • Trustworthiness to reciprocate altruism (submissive, feminine)
Laura Naumann

Laura Naumann

Vazire’s team reported that women’s smiles signal positive affect and warmth, which are seen as “trustworthiness cues” in Vigil’s model, and typically attract fewer, but closer relationships.
Gruenfeld and Goman argue that women’s smiling also signals low power in negotiation situations and interpersonal interactions.

Peter Rentfrow

Peter Rentfrow

In contrast, smiling among men indicates confidence and lack of self-doubt, seen as “capacity cues” to the ability to either help or hurt others.
These expressions usually attract numerous, but less-intimate relationships while
conveying a key element of power, self-assurance.

Samuel Gosling

Samuel Gosling

Team Vazire’s research validated Gruenfeld’s and Goman’s hypothesis that observers interpreted women’s smiles differently than men’s, even if the underlying, subjective emotional experience is similar.

Their work supports  Gruenfeld’s and Goman’s recommendation that women balance smiling, a signal of interpersonal warmth, with powerful non-verbal behaviors to achieve best outcomes in negotiations and workplace performance.

-*How has smiling helped establish your warmth?
-*When has smiling undermined your credibility and power?

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Expressing Anger at Work: Power Tactic or Career-Limiting Strategy?

Organizational pressures including complex relationships, chronic constraints, high stakes, and factors beyond individual control can lead to anger expressions at work.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Women and men receive differing evaluations of status, competence, leadership effectiveness when they express anger
Yale University’s Victoria Brescoll and Eric Luis Uhlmann, now of HEC Paris School of Management, report that  both male and female evaluators conferred lower status on angry female professionals, regardless of the actual occupational rank, than on angry male professionals.

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Eric Luis Uhlmann

The team found that evaluators assigned lower status to female CEOs as well as to female trainees when expressed anger, despite these women’s varying  job role statuses.

In addition, men who expressed anger in a professional context were conferred higher status than men who expressed sadness.

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Similarly, women who express anger and sadness are rated less effective than women who express no emotion, according to Kristi Lewis Tyran of Western Washington University.

Building on Brescoll and Uhlmann’s findings, Tyran’s laboratory study found that men who expressed sadness received lower effectiveness ratings than those who expressed in neutral emotions.

Observers also attribute different motivations and “root causes” to anger expressions by women and men.
Brescoll and Uhlmann found that  evaluators attribute women’s angry emotional reactions to less changeable internal characteristics such as “she is an angry person,” and “she is out of control”.

Men seem to get “the benefit of the doubt” from evaluators, who attributed men’s angry reactions to external circumstances, such as having external pressure and demands.

Managers who help employees deal with angry feelings and expressions at work may be seen as more powerful and effective leaders by employees.

Ginka Toegel

Ginka Toegel

Ginka Toegel and Anand Narasimhan of IMD Lausanne with University College London’s Martin Kilduff found that employees expect managers to provide emotional support, and attribute leadership qualities to managers who provide emotional support in their analysis of a recruiting agency headquarters.

Further, employees considered that managerial support requires no reciprocation because it is a role expectation.

Anand Narasimhan

Anand Narasimhan

Managers have a contrasting view:   They consider providing emotional support as “above-and-beyond the call of duty” and outside their role requirements.
As a result, most managers believe that employees have an obligation to reciprocate or express gratitude and are disappointed  when employees fail to show appreciation for emotional support.

Martin Kilduff

Martin Kilduff

These discrepant views may reflect employees’ view of managers as having:

  • Formal authority based on their job roles
  • Parental-like authority, based on their help-giving.
Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson

Fairfield University’ s Donald Gibson and Ronda Callister of Utah State University note societal and cultural norms and expectations for women to regulate anger expressions and the resulting negative consequences that follow violations of these expectations.

Rhonda Callister

Rhonda Callister

Women may buffer the status-lowering , competence-eroding, and dislike-provoking consequences of anger at work by:

-*What impacts and consequences have you observed for people who express anger in the workplace?

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Authoritative Non-Verbal Communication for Women in the Workplace

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman has integrated research on the impact of non-verbal behavior on workplace outcomes for women in two books:

The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help–or Hurt–How You Lead

The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work

She notes that all business leaders need to establish interpersonal warmth and likability balanced with authority, power, and credibility.

Women have been viewed as likeable, but lacking authority, so Goman suggests the following behavior changes:

• Focusing eye contact in business situations on the conversation partner’s forehead and eyes instead of eyes and mouth, which is more appropriate for social situations

• Limit the number of head tilts and head nods, which may signal empathy and encouragement, but may be interpreted as submissive and lacking authority

 Occupy space: Stand tall with erect posture and head, and a wider stance hold your head high.  Claim territory with belongings.

• Keep your hands on your lap or on the conference table where they can be seen to limit nervous hand gestures such as rubbing hands, grabbing arms, touching neck, tossing hair, leaning forward.

  • Use authoritative hand gestures:

o Show palms when indicating openness and inclusiveness

o “Steeple” fingers by touching fingertips with palms separated to indicate precision

o Turn hands palms-down to signal confidence and certainty

o Keep gestures at waist height or above. Drop the pitch at the end of each sentence to make an authoritative statement. Avoid raising tone at the end of a sentence when not asking a question, as this may be interpreted as uncertain or submissive.

• Smile selectively and appropriately to maintain both likeability and authority

• “Learn to interrupt,” advised former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. ”
Like occupying physical space, occupy “air-space.”

• Moderate emotional expressiveness, movement, and animation to signal authority and composure

• Cultivate a firm handshake, with palm-to-palm contact and that the web of your hand (the skin between your thumb and first finger) touching the web of the other person’s. Face the person squarely, look in the eyes, smile, and greet the person.

Goman stated that women generally excel at accurately read the body language of others, and this can be an advantage in intuitively grasping underlying issues in a meeting or during a negotiation.

-*How do you cultivate both credibility and likeability in work relationships?

See related posting on Olivia Fox Cabane’s discussion of non-verbal contributors to “charisma

Deborah Gruenfeld‘s discussion of power non-verbal behaviors

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