Your body language at work: what it says about you
You can rehearse what you say to your boss, employees or new clients all you like, but does your body language match up? Give off the right impressions using these tips.
Statistics claim that 93% of communication is non-verbal. According to a study by Dr. Albert Mehabrian, only 7% of communication is through words, and 38% is how you say them. That still leaves more than half (55%) coming from your body language.
So, how to control that 55% of communication?
A welcome with open arms
When meeting clients, give off a good, open first impression by greeting them with your arms and palms open before offering a firm but swift handshake.
Establish friendliness and familiarity without being pushy by giving a light touch on the shoulder or arm. And, of course, give them a warm smile to let them know you’re glad to see them.
The art of leaning
Leaning in to listen to someone and show them you’re interested in what they’re saying is a must, but be careful not to get too close.
Studies show that any closer than 46 cm is classed as ‘intimate’ space, and people find it uncomfortable to have a stranger in this area. That’s about half an arm’s length. Make sure not to stay this close to someone for a prolonged period.
Also, make sure you stand up tall, with your head held high, your shoulders back and with an open posture. This shows you’re full of energy and are ready to take on the day.
Smile, smile, smile!
A Swedish study found that people found it physically difficult not to smile themselves when looking at someone grinning warmly. Plus, smiling relieves stress – so the more of them in the workplace, the better!
Eyes and eye contact are also important. Focus on the person you’re speaking with and show them they have your undivided attention. Be careful not to stare into their eyes uninterrupted for too long, though – extended eye contact suggests feelings of attraction – definitely not a sign you want to give your boss!
Different facial movements can show someone you’re listening and interested in them. Nod, furrow your eyebrows, and make responsive noises to ensure them that they’ve got your attention.
By subtly mimicking the person you’re having a meeting with, you’ll create a discrete, unconscious bond between the two of you. If they lean their elbow on the table, try resting your hand on the table. If they gesture enthusiastically with their hands, make sure you return the fervour.
Don’t be too obvious, however. If you copy everything they do, it’ll look like you’re playing a game of Simon Says – and they’ll catch on pretty quickly!
Mind your step
It might sound odd, but be aware of how you position your feet – the way you place them can often reveal boredom, nervousness or attentiveness.
Constantly bouncing up and down or shifting you’re your feet shows discomfort or disinterest, making it seem like you’d rather be somewhere else. These signs make it seem like you don’t want to be there. Turn your feet towards who you’re speaking to so your whole body is facing them, and try to keep as still as possible.