Most people understand that body language is important in social situations, such as at a party or when on a date. However, body language is just as important in professional situations as well. In fact, body language can be the difference between having your co-workers and superiors like and respect you, and finding yourself constantly shut out of situations.
Fortunately, it is incredibly easy to use body language to your advantage in the workplace. The key is to know what certain body language conveys, and ensure that you are giving off the right non-verbal impression.
The following are ten of the most effective ways that you can use body language to be a rock star at work, or anywhere else that you want to make a great impression.
1. Stand up straight to signify confidence
People respect confidence. This is as true in the social world as it is in the professional one. A confident man or woman is much more likely to have their ideas listened to, and can have a powerful impact on the direction of their team.
Of course, signifying confidence isn’t as simple as saying “I am confident!” Instead, you must use non-verbal cues – such as standing up straight with great posture – in order to convey that you are confidence in your own skills and knowledge.
2. Have an open posture
In addition to having a confidence posture, it is important that your posture is “open” as well. This means no crossing your arms or legs when speaking to someone, and it also means facing the person you are talking to with your entire body.
3. Find the right balance for your handshake
A weak handshake is one of the most widely agreed-upon “red flags” in the business world. It is absolutely imperative that your handshake is not weak, or “limp”. At the same time, it is also important that you don’t break the hand of the person whose hand you are shaking.
In order to strike a balance between the two, make sure that you are properly gripping the other person’s hand. From there, try to match the amount of pressure, and give two or three short but smooth pumps.
4. Don’t forget to smile!
Smiling is one of the best ways to get people to trust and like you. In addition to making you feel happy and confident about yourself, a smile makes other people perceive you as attractive, reliable, relaxed, and sincere. Make sure your smile is genuine, and you will quickly find that your co-workers (and maybe even your boss) will start smiling back at you too!
5. Slow down your smile to be more genuine
In addition to smiling more often, you should also allow your smile to form at a slower pace. Smiles that start slowly are considered more genuine, and can make the individual you are smiling at feel special, almost as if the smile is just for them.
6. Use expressive gestures
Expressive gestures are common among confident individuals, and are a great way to make a point more powerfully. If you pay attention, you will find a pattern in which those who use expressive hand gestures are able to capture and hold the attention of others. You can use this tactic as well when making important points in the workplace.
7. Get close, but not too close, to your co-workers
You want to respect the personal space of your co-workers. Getting too close to others can make them uncomfortable, and making co-workers uncomfortable should be the opposite of your goal. At the same time, you want to get close enough to others that it is clear you are interested. A good rule of thumb is you should be close enough to lean in and pat someone on the shoulder.
8. Keep your hands where people can see them
When you are sitting at a desk, conference table, etc., don’t put your hands on your lap or anywhere underneath the table. Keep your hands on the table and keep them fairly still when you aren’t talking. Not only does this show confidence, it can actually make you feel confident as well.
9. Maintain eye contact
When speaking to someone who is making eye contact with you, it is usually a good idea to match their gaze for at least several seconds. In addition to showing confidence, this shows that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
10. Lean in when listening to someone
In addition to maintaining eye contact, you should try to lean in a bit when someone else is talking. This again shows that you are interested in what the person has to say, and it will make them more comfortable and trusting around you.
Remember, the ultimate goal of body language in at work is to have people value and respect you, while making them feel valued and respected as well. If you are able to use the 10 body language suggestions above to convey confidence and respect, you will be well on your way to being the rock star of the office!