You’ve got the whole workplace in the palm of your hand if you master these nonverbal clues.
The way we carry ourselves impacts every part of our lives. From facial expressions to how we sit and walk, we’re constantly judging and evaluating people based on visual cues.
By now we’ve all heard about the firm handshake, but there are other ways that people judge us based on body language during internships, summer jobs and in school.
We talked to Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, a body language expert, and Joe Navarro, an adjunct faculty member of nonverbal communication at Saint Leo University, for body language tips to use in the workplace.
1. Perfect the handshake
Yes, you’ve heard this advice before, but it’s worth reiterating as it’s probably the first thing you’ll do when you meet someone in a professional setting. According to Dr. Goman, limp, weak handshakes come across as delicate and incompetent.
So what makes the perfect shake?
“Make it firm, palm-to-palm, and web-to-web (the skin between your thumb and index finger),” Dr. Goman says. “Stand, square your body to the other person’s, smile and look him/her in the eyes.”
You’ll be seen as confident, outgoing and warm.
2. Don’t fidget
Some people play with their hair or fingers when they’re nervous or bored. Others subconsciously rub their hands together or touch their necks. Dr. Goman advises students to stop fidgeting, because it could make you look much less powerful.
“It’s better to keep your hands on your lap or on the conference table where they can be seen and where you will be reminded to keep them still,” she says.
If you find that you often fiddle with your clothes or hands (if you’re not sure, you can ask your parents or friends), try clasping your hands or putting them under the table so they’re not visible.
3. Show some palm
While you shouldn’t fiddle mindlessly, there is one must-do move with your hands: use your palms.
“Showing your palms indicates openness and inclusiveness,” Dr. Goman says. Use this move when you’re talking to your boss or working with a group — briefly opening your hands so your palms are visible makes you look open and interested in the task at hand.
“‘Steepling’ (finger tips touching, palms separated) shows you are being precise,” Dr. Goman says.
Finally, try this move: “Turning your hands palms-down reinforces that you are absolutely sure of your position,” Dr. Goman says.
At a meeting? Put your palms flat on the desk to indicate you’re sure of something. You’ll look competent and efficient.
4. Lose the head tilt (most of the time)
Tilting your head when someone is speaking indicates interest, which is usually a good thing. But in the workplace, it can make you look a little too passive, which, according to Dr. Goman, can be read as submissive.
When you want to convey power and authority, keep your head straight and look forward. There’s one exception, however: when you’re working with others and want to convey concern, tilt your head slightly.
“Do use head tilts when you want to demonstrate your concern for and interest in members of your team, or when you want to encourage people to expand on what they are saying,” Dr. Goman says.
People pick up on subtle head tilts and interpret them as a friendly, warm gesture.
To learn more career body language tips, be sure to check out the full article.
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