Non-verbal communication makes up for 93% of our day to day communication. Old or young, it’s not surprising that many of us have difficulty interpreting emotions and mood through gestures.
In the workplace, your movements can affect how your co-workers perceive you. Here are some helpful tips on improving your body language:
Don’t Slip into the Habit of Slouching
Big day at work? End of the week? Tired from a big weekend?
Be mindful that this is when you and your colleagues are susceptible to appearing disinterested to those around you. When it’s easy to slip into comfortable body language such as slouching at the desk or putting your feet up one too many times!
Instead, try positioning your body to the person you are talking to and subtly mimic or mirror some of their gestures. This simply positive display of body language signals to your colleague that you are interested and focused.
Avoid the Butterflies in your Body Language
We all know that nervous gestures are the kryptonite of interviews and meetings - even the slightest gesture can blow a million-dollar deal. The same principle applies in the office.
Face touching, hair twirling, leg jiggling and fidgeting with stationary are examples of what not to do. These motions usually derive from not being in control and this indicates insecurity and a lack of confidence.
Nervous body language can hinder your career success, even if you are totally competent in your position. And don’t blame the hair touching due to being born in Generation Y! Etiquette standards aren’t generational for a reason.
Eye of the Tiger
Make eye contact. This doesn’t mean endlessly stare at someone throughout a conversation. Your colleagues can gauge your emotional intelligence simply by the way you look at people.
Rolling your eyes, scanning the room during networking event, peering over someone’s shoulder whilst they’re talking to you are all no nos. Although they are seemingly minor movements they say a lot about you.
Experts say you should hold a person’s gaze for roughly 50 to 60 percent of the time you are interacting with them. Whether or not you follow this formula exactly you must be mindful never to avoid eye contact with someone, whether they’re the CEO or the office cleaner.
Bringing it all together
Noticing these cues and improving your non-verbal communication is not something one can do overnight, but it is essential to be mindful.
As you start to better master your own body language you can use the knowledge to better understand how others are engaging with you. Noticing different cues from your audience in a meeting or presentation could act as guide for what you should do next. Or in the case of interview can help you understand when you should wrap up an answer!
But most importantly, don’t forget to smile at the workplace. A genuine smile can save a conversation and even start a lifelong friendship.