Body language plays a crucial role in our daily lives, whether we know it or not.
From casual interactions with strangers to more formal exchanges with colleagues; we can reveal to people what we’re all about (or not about) with just a few simple gestures.
For confident and successful people, positive body language tends to be part of their make-up but for others, a bit of gentle reminding may be required.
1. Avoiding eye contact
A lack of eye contact can indicate that you’ve got something to hide or that you lack confidence and interest.
When it comes to communicating in the workplace, maintaining eye contact is crucial – it conveys confidence, leadership and strength.
2. Weak handshake
Although a handshake only lasts a couple of seconds, a bad one can leave an enduring impression on someone.
A study done by the University of Iowa in 2008 found that those people who start job interviews with a firm, strong handshake are always perceived in a more favorable light than those who have a limp handshake.
Slouching or bad posture signals that you lack confidence and have low energy levels. If your back is curved and your shoulders are pointing inwards, it makes sense that you will appear physically smaller.
On the other hand, good posture, i.e. a straight back and perked-up shoulders, maximizes the amount of space you fill and so denotes control and assertion.
4. Crossed arms
Crossed arms can act as a physical barrier that suggest you’re not open to what the other person is saying. Also, depending on the context, they can indicate defensiveness.
If you want people to view you as open-minded and interested, it is best to keep your hands at your sides.
5. Exaggerated gestures
Overzealous or exaggerated gestures can suggest that you are chaotic or that you’re stretching the truth. If you tend to communicate with your hands, try to use small, controlled gestures to show leadership and confidence.
Also, ensure you use open gestures, for example, showing the palms of your hands – this helps to communicate that you have nothing to hide.
Fidgeting can include playing with your hair, biting your lip or tapping your fingers on a table. It usually signals that you’re anxious or disinterested and is best avoided if you wish to demonstrate enthusiasm and confidence.
In a survey of 2,100 hiring managers conducted by CareerBuilder, 29% identified fidgeting as the biggest body language faux pas made by job seekers.
7. Invading personal space
Standing too close to someone (nearer than one and a half feet) suggests that you have no understanding of personal space.
An invasion of personal space can make people feel uncomfortable. Approximately 3 to 8 feet is an appropriate distance in which to converse with work colleagues, casual acquaintances and strangers.
8. Failing to smile
Smiling demonstrates confidence, openness, and energy. Importantly, in the case of formal exchanges, it also sets off the mirror neurons in your listener, instructing them to smile back. Even a nervous smile is better than no smile at all but remember, don’t overdo it.