Body Language in the Workplace


How We Use Body Language in the Workplace and Its Meaning

The way we communicate at work is essential because it affects how other people feel. Our body language and nonverbal clues can either align or conflict with the words coming out of our mouths, so an awareness of what you’re doing right now will help set a good tone for yourself and others around you!

Mind Your Personal Space

Body language can be an incredibly telling tool when it comes to determining the mood of those around us. If they want a little more space, then that could mean you’re starting on the wrong foot, or the subject may get heated.

On the other hand, if they get close, they may want to mention something more personal. I try to gauge it based on who I am talking to.

What is nonverbal communication in the workplace?

What is Nonverbal Communication?

Nonverbal communication is the process of sending and receiving messages without using words. It includes body language, such as facial expressions, gestures, and posture; vocal cues, such as intonation, pitch, and volume; and appearances, such as clothing, hairstyles, and props. Being mindful of nonverbal communication in the workplace helps in several ways. For example, it can help build rapport by establishing a connection with others. It can also be used to convey confidence and authority or to show interest and engagement. Additionally, nonverbal communication can be helpful in managing difficult conversations by diffusing tension and establishing trust. When used effectively, nonverbal communication can be a powerful tool for success in the workplace.

Let Your Body Language Be Present and Accounted For.

The workplace can be a distracting environment, especially when trying to focus on a task. One way to minimize distractions is to plan how you’ll handle them when they arise. For example, if you know that your colleagues tend to ask you questions when you’re trying to concentrate, you can let them know in advance that you’re not available to answer questions.

This allows you to either be in or out of a conversation. Let your colleagues know what you are up to and why it is crucial. Tell them you won’t be able to engage about other topics until you complete the task you are working on. But when you are talking to them, be fully present and listen attentively.

Otherwise, you may signal that you don’t like them or care for them. You will need be self-aware.

Work on Becoming More Self-Aware

One of the most important things you can do to be successful in the workplace is to develop a high level of self-awareness. This means being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your impact on others. Once you have a clear understanding of your style, you can adapt your behavior to fit the needs of the situation. For example, if you tend to be shy and introverted, you may need to make a conscious effort to speak up in meetings or networking events. On the other hand, if you are naturally outgoing and tend to dominate conversations, you may need to work on listening more and allowing others to share their ideas. By taking the time to assess your own behavior and adjust accordingly, you will become more self-aware.

Your Handshake Can Make or Break You

The perfect handshake is strong, firm, and confident. It should last for about three seconds and make complete contact with the other person’s hand. Shake hands with intention. The perfect handshake will project confidence, trustworthiness, and leadership. A weak handshake, on the other hand, can communicate insecurity, nervousness, or lack of confidence. It’s essential to have a firm handshake because it’s one of the first things people notice about you. Your handshake is your first impression, so make sure it’s a good one!

Positive Body and Gesture Mirroring

Body mirroring is physically mimicking another person’s posture, gestures, and movements. When done in a non-threatening way, it can be an effective tool for building rapport and establishing trust. For example, if you’re speaking with someone who has their arms crossed, you might mirror their body language by crossing your own arms. Or if they lean in while they’re talking, you can do the same. By matching their physical state, you’re sending a signal that you’re open to communication and willing to connect on a deeper level. Additionally, body mirroring can help to create a sense of mutual understanding and empathy. When we see another person’s body language reflected back at us, we can’t help but feel understood and supported.

Maintain an Open Position 

Maintaining an open body position is vital for several reasons. First, it helps you to appear approachable and more likely to engage in conversation. Secondly, it makes you appear confident and in control. And finally, it conveys a sense of openness and trustworthiness. All of these factors are important when dealing with people at work, whether you’re interacting with colleagues or clients. By maintaining an open body position, you’re more likely to create positive relationships and build trust. So next time you’re at work, remember to keep your body open and inviting.

Common Body Language Seen at Work and What They Mean

Facial Expressions, Eye Contact, and Other Non-Verbal Communication

Holding an Engaged Posture (Avoid Slouching, Slumping, and Hunched Posture)

A dynamic posture is a power position. It’s the way you carry yourself when you’re at your best – when you feel confident and in control. When you hold an engaged posture, you take up more space, and you send a clear message to the world that you’re not to be messed with. Not only does an engaged posture make you look more powerful, but it also actually makes you feel more powerful in the business world. It’s important to practice active listening. When you sit or stand up straight, your chest opens up, and your breathing becomes more efficient. This increase in oxygen flow can give you a boost of energy and improve your focus. Additionally, engaging your muscles helps to release tension and improve your circulation. So next time you’re feeling slouchy, take a moment to reset your posture and

Avoid Leaning Back (Away from a Conversation)

When you are in a conversation, it is crucial to be aware of your body language. Leaning back communicates that you are not interested in the conversation or that you are feeling defensive. It can also make you appear aloof or unapproachable. Instead, try to maintain an open posture. Stand or sit up straight and make eye contact with the person you are talking to. This will show that you are engaging in active listening, interested in the conversation and that you are open to hearing what the other person has to say. At the same time, be sure to avoid crossing your arms or legs, as this can indicate that you are not receptive to what the other person is saying. By being aware of your body language, you can ensure that your conversations are more productive.

Avoid Crossing Your Arms (Especially All the Time)

While this can occasionally be your baseline or the position you take on when you are learning something new, generally speaking, you should try to avoid it. When you cross your arms in front of your body, you are creating a physical barrier that sends a message of disengagement, disapproval, or even hostility. Your body language is the first thing people will notice about you, so it’s important to be aware of how you’re conveying yourself. You want to appear open and approachable so that people feel comfortable approaching you and engaging in conversation. By avoiding crossed arms, you’re sending a signal that you’re open to communication and willing to engage with others. This will help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues and position yourself as a leader in the workplace.

Hand Gestures: Avoid Fidgeting, Popping Your Joints, Clenching, or Aggressive Signaling

Recently, an angry squirrel was perched above my head. He kept making a vibrating sound and wiggling his tail. He wanted me gone. Squirrels watch each other’s tails for signals. Humans are wired to watch each other’s hands. The handshake itself started with palms facing outward and was a way of letting someone else know that I was unarmed and come in peace.

Be mindful of your hands and hand gestures in your communication at work.

When you’re in conversation with people, especially at work, you want to be confident and in control. Fidgeting, popping your joints, clenching, or aggressive signaling with your hands can make you seem nervous and uncomfortable. It can also be distracting and disrupt the flow of conversation. If you’re finding it challenging to keep your hands still, try placing them on the table or holding a pen or paper.

At the same time, avoid stuffing your hands in your pockets. Try to keep your hands visible.

If you’re prone to joint popping, try to avoid doing it while you’re talking to someone. It’s also important to be aware of your facial expressions and body language. Making eye contact, smiling, and maintaining an open posture will help you appear approachable and engaged in the conversation.

Don’t Avoid Eye Contact or Over-Do Eye Contact.

How many times have you felt someone’s eyes on you, and when you looked up, they quickly averted their gaze? Everyone has experienced this awkward social moment, but what does it mean? And more importantly, how can you avoid it in the workplace?

When we maintain eye contact with someone, it shows that we are interested in them and what they have to say. It is a sign of respect. On the other hand, avoiding eye contact can make us seem disinterested, bored, or even untrustworthy. So how do you strike the right balance?

The key is to keep your gaze soft. Imagine that your eyes are like beams of light that are shining on the person you’re talking to. You want to focus.

As my Momma Used to Say – Watch Your Tone Young Man

When you’re speaking with someone, the way that you say something is just as important as the words that you use. Your tone of voice can convey a range of emotions, from anger and frustration to happiness and enthusiasm. As such, it’s essential to be aware of how your tone of voice might affect your conversations at work. If you’re constantly speaking in a harsh or abrasive tone, then your coworkers are likely to view you as being difficult to work with. On the other hand, if you take care to speak in a more positive and upbeat tone, then you’ll come across as being more friendly and approachable. Either way, the way that you use your voice is an integral part of communication, so it’s worth paying attention to.

Don’t Keep Checking Your Watch – Smart Watches Can Wreak Havoc on Communication.

If you’re in a meeting, or even just having a conversation with a colleague, and you keep looking at the clock or checking your watch, it communicates that you’d rather be somewhere else. Not only is this rude, but it also makes it challenging to build rapport and trust. When you’re fully present with someone, they can feel it, and they’re more likely to open up to you and feel comfortable sharing their own thoughts and ideas. So next time you’re talking to someone at work, resist the urge to check the time and really focus on the conversation at hand. You may be surprised at how more productive and enjoyable your interactions become.

Don’t Roll Your Eyes. 

When you roll your eyes during a conversation, you are effectively saying “I don’t believe you” or “I don’t care about what you’re saying.” Neither of these is an effective way to build rapport or resolve conflict. In fact, rolling your eyes is a surefire way to escalate tensions and damage relationships. If you get frustrated during a conversation, take a deep breath and try to see the other person’s point of view. You may not always agree, but at least you can show them the respect of listening to what they have to say.

Timing Your Torso Turn

The torso turn is when you turn your torso towards the person you’re talking to. It shows that you’re interested in what they have to say and that you’re invested in the conversation. The best way to use the torso turn is to make sure that you do it gradually. You don’t want to suddenly turn your whole body towards someone, as that can be off-putting. Instead, start by turning your head slightly, then your shoulders, and finally your torso. This will help you come across as warm and genuine, encouraging the other person to open up to you.

The opposite is also true. If you turn your torso away from someone while they are talking, you essentially are disconnecting from the conversation.

Don’t Let Your Lips Get Gucci – Avoiding the Lip Purse.

The lip purse doesn’t have anything to do with fashion; it is when you press your lips tightly together in a disapproving manner.

The lip purse is a particular gesture. It involves pursing or pressing your lips together tightly (like the part of a purse that closes together) as if you’re holding something in. This gesture communicates a number of things, depending on the context in which it’s used. In general, it expresses distaste, disapproval, or even anger. It can also be a sign of frustration or impatience.

In the workplace, the lip purse can be one of the most potent nonverbal cues. If you’re communicating with a colleague and you see them start to lip purse, it’s a red flag. These non verbals can be detrimental when trying to connect with a co worker.

Avoid the Brain Churn – Try to Not Overthink Your Body Language or That of Your Co-Workers

One of the most important things to remember in the workplace is that body language is everything. It’s so important that it’s been said that over 70% of communication is nonverbal. And while that may seem like a lot, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Everything from the way we carry ourselves to how we dress sends a message to those around us.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in the workplace is to overthink body language. When we overthink, we tend to second-guess ourselves and our actions. This can lead to us either coming across as awkward or even rude. Neither of which is good if you’re trying to make a good impression or advance in your workplace.

Non Verbal Communication Can Be Beyond Our Control

The body has a remarkable ability to reflect how we are feeling. If our minds are filled with negativity, then that will show up as microexpressions on our faces and movements throughout the day, which others can notice even if you don’t realize it yourself. It can be incredibly taxing to straddle the gap of a negative mental state by projecting a positive body language.

Mental well-being is directly related not only to what goes inside us but also outside: both mental states affect each other significantly!

Paul Clukey

Paul is an author, business owner, online blogger, kite surfer, fitness enthusiast father of three, who loves personal development and spends his free time learning and implementing new concepts to grow personally and help others achieve success.

Recent Posts