As a manager or leader, you are familiar with the "open door policy" most leaders promise to staff. It's easier to make this promise than to keep it, especially when you find yourself face to face with someone you just don't relate to naturally.
Despite your promise to openly communicate with him anytime, your facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice may be conveying an entirely different message.
If you want people to freely come to you with their ideas, problems, and solutions, you need to make good on your promise of open communication and convey genuine interest in engaging with them.
The best way to accomplish this is to actually BE genuinely interested in what your employees have to say by giving them the gift of openness (as fully explained in A Leader's Gift - How to Earn the Right to Be Followed).
In the meantime, start to take note of your facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice to see what they convey.
Some people wear their heart on their sleeve while others let their face do all the feeling.Watch your employees' reactions the moment you look at each other. What is reflected back to you?Chances are, you will see in their face what they currently see in yours.
Body language monitoring goes beyond ensuring that your arms are not crossed and your back is not turned away from the person speaking.Are you half-listening while also responding to an email on your smart phone, or are you making eye contact, actively listening to, and responding to your employee?Engaged leaders drop everything and listen with their whole body and mind.
Tone of Voice
It goes without saying that yelling, being curt, or sighing in exasperation when approached by an employee will convey a very clear message that you are not interested in what he or she has to say.Though those examples are extreme, subtle changes in your tone of voice can also yield negative results when trying to convey genuine interest.Listen to your voice when speaking to lots of different people throughout the day. How does it change? Why? When?Become aware of patterns and triggers so that you can begin giving your employees a consistent and calm voice in return to their communications.
Open door policy or not, ask yourself: Is your door really open or is it cracked just enough to let everyone know you are there, but not wishing to be disturbed?