07Dec

The importance of effective body language in our professional lives cannot be stressed enough. Whether you are at a job interview or are giving a speech or an important presentation at your workplace, if your body language is positive and effective, more than half your job is done. Remember that body language came before speech and 80% of the message that you “get” or “give” in a conversation is read through non-verbal communication and not the actual words. We have written about the tips for effectively employing this powerful tool at work, and now we give you the biggest body language mistakes that you need to watch out for and avoid at work:

Body Language Mistakes #1 – Avoiding Eye Contact:

When you avoid eye contact, it reflects your lack of confidence. Maintaining a steady eye contact with your audience helps build a rapport, and makes you appear less shifty. Remember to take breaks in between maintaining eye contact, lest you appear to be staring. Looking at someone constantly, for an extended period of time could be interpreted as aggressive, but mostly it would be interpreted as creepy!

Body Language Mistakes #2 – A Weak Handshake:

Handshakes are tricky things and need to be ‘just right’, not too weak, and not too firm. A weak handshake indicates lack of authority and confidence, while an overly firm handshake would come across as aggressive. The best handshakes are described as brief, yet ‘firm’. Also, maintaining eye contact while shaking hands is a must.

Body Language Mistakes #3 – Exaggerated Gestures:

Exaggerated gestures are a sign of you having failed at effective verbal articulation. Be in control of your gestures, avoid being too forceful and gesticulating too often. It takes away from the real weight of the matter and is extremely distracting for the onlooker(s).

Body Language Mistakes #4 – Bad Posture:

While it is important to feel comfortable, it is more important to not get so comfortable that you appear lazy, nonchalant and uninterested. When seated, avoid slouching which makes you look lazy or leaning forward which makes you look aggressive. Sit as upright as possible, with your hands on your lap. When standing, maintain a comfortable posture while drawing the complete possible length of your height, but at the same time taking care to not appear stiff.

Body Language Mistakes #5 – Fidgeting:

Constantly fidgeting or fixing your hair/clothes, et al., makes you appear as though you are anxious, nervous, overly self-conscious or distracted. The nervous energy would definitely be visible to the onlooker(s) and succeed in doing the very opposite of what you intended to, distract them instead of holding their attention.

Being aware and conscious of your body language, and working on it is an effort worth making. Be it your professional, or personal life, your body language is something that will always create a lasting impression. It reflects your maturity, professionalism and confidence and speaks a great deal about how you carry yourself. After all, it is the language you speak with, without even speaking a word. Like Peter Guber says,

“Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through to your audience before you even start speaking.”

What do you think ? What are the other big body language blunders that we consciously or unconsciously make ? We would love to hear back from you.

And here is a bonus : We came across this powerful Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy, a renowned social psychologist.who shows how “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. Check out the high power and low power poses that she demonstrates in the video as well. She shows us that we can actually fake it to become it (yes, no kidding!). Bravo, Amy!

Image Courtesy: Amy Cuddy/Harvard

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