All of us initiate and respond to body language on a daily basis.  We've walked away from interviews feeling confident we may actually have a "shot" at the position or promotion.  We've also walked away from interviews or important meetings feeling completely deflated.  Was it something we said?  Maybe, maybe not. Nonverbal communication often speaks louder than words.

Body language is communication through our body movements, expressions, and gestures. Experts think body language can be as much as 60% of a conversation.  Some say 90%.  Other forms of communication include language and voice variations.

As managers and other representatives in our industry, we attend continuing education classes in an effort to make sure we stay knowledgeable and up-to-date. We often chose our words carefully during a conversation or when speaking to a group.  We pay attention to our grammar.  Most of us refer to these as "Tools of the Trade."

Arming ourselves with "Tools of the Trade" is extremely important to our success.  That is why it's important to realize that what we know and what we say may have less of an effect on our message than how we say it, our expressions, and our body language.  Often when relaying a story, we realize our message isn't getting across so we may end with, "Well, you'd had to have been there." Why is that?  It's probably because we are retelling the language portion of the interaction but leaving out the body language, expressions, and voice variations that were a large portion of the conversation.

Being aware of our own body language and reading the body language of others will help us greatly in the workplace, and socially as well.  Good nonverbal language can save us from embarrassment, sending the wrong message, and prevent us from hurting someone's feelings.

A few positive body language tips include:

  • Mirror body language of people you admire and get a good feeling from.
  • Standing or sitting up straight with relaxed shoulders, arms open, and legs slightly apart exhibits confidence.  
  • Show interest by making eye contact.
  • Handshakes send many messages. A handshake should be firm (not too hard), rise if you are seated, smile, and make eye contact.

Most of us are confident we demonstrate many positive body language signals.  Before we become overly confident, we must acknowledge some of the negative body languages we may be communicating as well.

Negative body language gestures may include:

  • Checking the Time --- We have more important things to do.  We'd rather be somewhere else.
  • Looking Down --- Uninterested. 
  • Too Close --- Give the person you are talking to appropriate space.  The rule of thumb is 4 ft. if you don't know them well.
  • Fake Smile --- A true smile engages the entire face, not just the mouth.

As we move forward in 2020, let's be conscious of our body language and the impact it has in the workplace.  Positive body language speaks volumes in a healthy work environment.  

Click here to access the body language article written by Udemy.