by | Jul 7, 2022 | Blog, Executive Assistant

Few bosses set out to be intimidating, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen. Whether it’s intentional or not, certain behaviors can be intimidating to your new executive assistant. And intimidation can have an impact on their morale and productivity. An assistant who is scared or intimidated by you is far less likely to approach you for help or come to you with problems.

Establishing a positive rapport with your new executive assistant can make a huge difference in developing a healthy and effective working relationship. Here’s how to avoid intimidating your new executive assistant.

Behaviors Your New EA May Find Intimidating

You might be intimidating your new executive assistant without even realizing it. Workplace intimidation comes in many forms. 

Intimidating behaviors include:

  • Avoiding eye contact or using intense eye contact
  • Raising your voice
  • Stiff and closed-off body language
  • Being overly assertive
  • Only talking business
  • Cutting them off or ending conversations abruptly 
  • Not giving them a chance to have their say
  • Not admitting to your mistakes
  • Setting unrealistic standards
  • Asking others for help instead of your new EA
An Executive Assistant being interviewed by two executives

How to Avoid Intimidating Your New Executive Assistant

Becoming a boss who inspires their assistant rather than intimidates them requires strong self-awareness and plenty of practice. These are some things you can do to avoid intimidating your new executive assistant.

Communicate Regularly

Communication is essential in any relationship. Communicating regularly with your new assistant lets them know you’re approachable and available rather than intimidating and closed off. Open and honest communication are vital components of a healthy and productive working relationship.

Be a Good Listener

Communication is pointless if you’re not listening. Don’t be one of those bosses who barks instructions at their assistant while juggling 10 other tasks simultaneously. Giving someone just part of your attention is intimidating and rude. Set time aside to talk to your new assistant when you won’t be interrupted or focused on other tasks. Listen to what they have to say. 

Display Empathy and Compassion

Approaching all situations with kindness and compassion is a trait of a great boss. Try putting yourself into your new assistant’s shoes. They may feel anxious about starting a new job. Or they might have other things going on in their life you don’t know about. Either way, they’re probably still doing their best to impress you. Show empathy. Be kind. And give them some time to settle in and adjust.

Remain Calm

Raising your voice is unacceptable behavior, especially in the workplace. Still, yelling and screaming are some of the most common types of workplace intimidation. If your assistant fears your reactions, they’re less likely to approach you with any problems or questions in the future. Also, people are unlikely to continue working for you if you display abusive behavior.

Instead of raising your voice, address any problems calmly and pragmatically. If your new assistant makes a mistake, simply let them know and help find a practical solution. 

Maintain Good Eye Contact

Eye contact is a sign that people feel comfortable with each other. Eye contact is essential to making your EA comfortable with you. Hopefully, they’ll mirror this behavior. But don’t make your eye contact too intense, as this can be intimidating too.

Have Relaxed and Positive Body Language

Certain body language, such as standing too rigidly or crossing your arms, can be intimidating. Ensure your posture is open and relaxed. Keep your arms uncrossed, incorporate hand gestures, and nod your head when they talk. These body language cues can help show you’re interested and approachable.

Show Other Parts of Your Life

Let your new assistant know there’s more to you than just a business-minded CEO or executive. Bosses are much less intimidating when their employees can humanize them.

Chat to your new assistant about your hobbies and find out if you have any in common. Show them photos of your family or pets. Talk about weekend plans. Of course, the amount of personal information you choose to share with your assistant is completely up to you. But if you’re happy sharing some parts of your life, it’s a great way to build rapport and make yourself less intimidating.

Respect and Trust Them

The primary role of an executive assistant is to help you and make your life easier. But when you get a new assistant, it can take some time to build up trust and understand what they’re capable of. You may end up asking other employees for help instead. 

But regularly asking others to assist you rather than letting your new EA step up can be demotivating and intimidating. They can’t prove themselves to you if you don’t give them the opportunity to. It’s vital to show respect and trust that they know what they’re doing.

Ask for Their Advice

Asking for advice is a proven way of making someone like you and want to help you more. Executive assistants are highly qualified at what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask your new assistant for their advice on important matters. Giving them a chance to have their say lets your assistant know you value their opinion. Plus, you never know what great ideas they might have.

Ask for Feedback and Accept Constructive Criticism

Feedback is a two-way street. While regular progress reviews with your assistant are necessary for their growth, asking for feedback on your performance is also great for you. By asking your new assistant what you’re doing well as a boss and what you could improve on, you show that you’re adaptable and willing to learn. And if they offer constructive criticism, accept it gracefully and figure out a solution.

Own Up to Your Mistakes

Making mistakes is completely natural. And owning up to yours lets your new assistant know that you’re only human and make mistakes just like them. In leading by example, your assistant will be more willing to admit to their mistakes and talk to you when something goes wrong. You can then deal with it together, rather than them trying to cover their tracks.

Express Gratitude

Remembering to say thank you is one of the simplest things you can do to avoid intimidating your new executive assistant. Expressing gratitude shows that you acknowledge and appreciate their help and everything they do for you. Employees that receive praise tend to be happier and more motivated.

LifeSquire Academy Can Help Your New EA 

Offering help and support is one of the best ways to show your new assistant that you aren’t scary or intimidating. One way you can do this is by encouraging their growth through a professional assistant training program such as LifeSquire Academy. Contact us if you need more information or to register your assistant.

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