Did you know that you communicate (a lot) with just your body language? With communication being one of the most important aspects of managing a team and collaborating with your peers, it’s not only your words that have an impact but your non-verbal communication, namely your body language, that can make a big impact in the workplace.
EHL Insights notes that in the process of communication, non-verbal expression has 65% to 93% more influence than written text. Most importantly, your body language leaves an impression on people. It can make you appear either confident or unsure, and can even let other people know how you’re feeling about certain tasks without saying a word. This is why it’s extremely important to be aware of your body language and focus on areas of improvement to improve overall communication at work.
Why is Body Language Important in the Workplace?
Here are some of the reasons why making an effort to convey positive, engaged body language is important in the workplace:
- Improves communication
- Shows confidence
- Builds trust
- Creates a positive impact on coworkers and customers
- Builds an image for yourself
- Shows enthusiasm
- Communicates engagement
The way we smile, walk, greet people and uphold our posture are all telling signs of how we’re feeling and show our enthusiasm and commitment to a conversation and interaction. Most of the time we are doing all of this subconsciously, which is why it’s very important to be aware of negative body language that may show disinterest.
Tips to Improve Your Body Language
As mentioned, a lot of our non-verbal communication like our body language can be subconscious, which means we might not be aware of what we’re doing. This is why it is a good idea to start being aware and adjust your body language where necessary.
1. Your posture is important
You want to maintain good posture to show confidence and that you are engaged in the conversation. Make sure your back is straight when you are sitting or standing, and avoid slouching which can make you come across as being bored.
Additionally, you want to lean in slightly to show your interest, but this should only be a slight lean in toward your peers. Relax your shoulders to show that you are comfortable. Try to be natural so that you don’t come across as nervous or confused.
2. Eye contact
When talking to someone, you want to try to maintain eye contact to show you are engaged and paying attention to the conversation. Of course, don’t make it too intense but just enough that is natural during a conversation.
The trick is to look at them for a few minutes and gently look away. Repeat the process during the interaction. And of course, do not roll your eyes in any situation!
3. Make sure to smile
A smile makes everyone comfortable and will put the other person at ease. Keep your expressions natural and avoid negative facial expressions so as to not give a bad impression to the person you are talking to.
Smiling gently makes you come across as calm and comfortable during the duration of the interaction along with nodding to show you are listening and understanding what is being said.
4. Hand gestures
During a conversation, you want to keep your arms uncrossed and in your lap or by your sides. Additionally, you can use hand gestures to emphasize certain topics. Don’t fidget by shaking your hands or fingers as this can come across as negative.
Having an awareness of what causes you to fidget will help you fight the feeling if you feel nervous or bored.
5. Be aware of personal space
You want to make sure you face the person you are conversing with at all times. Turning your back toward them can be rude and show that you’re disengaged. You want to maintain an appropriate amount of space during the interaction as well. This can build trust and comfort.
Additionally, keep in mind that different cultures have different ideas of space. Don’t be too close, but also don’t be too far as this again can translate into a lack of interest. Always read your audience to make the best judgment.
6. Match the handshake
A Harvard Business School study found that “handshaking promotes the adoption of cooperative strategies and influences negotiation outcomes.”
A firm handshake is always a good call as it comes across as professional as well as putting the other person at ease after the greeting.
7. Observe others
Observing the people you are interacting with is a good idea for you to match the tone and nonverbal cues they’re sending. This can help with making the environment more comfortable as well as show that you are engaged.
Watch your speed of speaking as well and slow down if you are talking too fast so the other person can understand you better.
Working on your body language is a good way to be more confident in your interactions and can help create a good first impression. Your body language can truly show the other person that you are engaged and interested in what they have to say. Being aware of your actions and nonverbal cues will set you up for success.
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