Body language is an important part of communication which constitutes a great portion of what we are communicating, your ability to read the cues that people send out with their bodies and decode those signals is a very useful skill that can make the difference on whether an employer selects you for a role, or if a client closes a sale.
Knowledge of these cues will help you better communicate with and understand what people are saying (and what they’re not) as well as keeping your own body language in check. Here are 8 basic body language tips you should master to excel in your career.
Maintain positive eye contact
Eye contact is an essential part of communication and maintaining good eye contact with someone you’re talking with indicates that you are focused and paying attention. You just have to focus on the person (try not to stare them down) and listen actively. People who maintain good eye contact are generally perceived as being more reliable, sociable, warm, honest and confident. Whereas poor eye contact, may indicate deception, dishonesty or timidity.
Besides being a valuable skill in careers such as Customer service, that demand a lot of interaction with people, the ability to maintain a healthy amount of eye contact is also an important social skill.
A warm smile sends a message that people can trust and cooperate with you. Smiling when you first meet someone indicates the desire communicate with them, it also indicates happiness and a friendly attitude that will portray you as a positive person. The power of a simple smile in business and human interaction cannot be over emphasized, and the remarkable thing is … it’s contagious - when you smile at someone, they’ll want to reciprocate.
Perfect your handshake
A bad handshake can affect someone’s entire opinion of you.
Have you ever had weak hand shake? Perhaps the person didn't extend the palms properly and you ended up getting the fingers instead. What was your impression of that person?
Suppose your interviewer offers you a hand, how great would your handshake be? Your ability to impart a good 1st impression on your employer, customer, and everyone you cross paths with is important, and it almost always begins with a hand shake.
A perfect handshake would involve you raising your hand confidently and placing it firmly in the palm of your connection’s hand, give it a good hold (Do not squeeze too hard), look the person in the eyes and smile.
Reduce nervous gestures
Nervous body language gestures like, avoiding eye contact, tapping your fingers on a surface, nail biting or tapping feet can create doubt and make you seem incompetent or unprofessional. Such nervous gestures are usually quite distracting to the person with whom you're communicating. Avoiding these nervous gestures will make you stand out as confident and composed when you interact with people whether they are customers, interviewers or that guy from across the street.
Sit up straight
Good posture is important when you interact with people in a professional setting. You should keep your spine straight and your chin up, avoid slouching on your desk it will only make you look sluggish and unconfident. Your aim when you are interacting with people in a professional setting should be; communicating that you are someone they should look forward to dealing with in the future.
Besides being unprofessional, bad sitting posture is detrimental to health.
Avoid Crossing Arms and legs
Crossed arms and legs often indicates defensiveness or resistance, and can be as a result of uneasiness, timidity or insecurity.
It is said that in a group the person who doesn’t feel confident is usually the one who has his arms crossed. Avoid this gesture as much as you can because it decreases your credibility (How much would you believe a speaker’s words, if he spoke with his arms crossed?).
Your arms and should be relaxed by your sides to communicate that you’re open, approachable and confident. If you’re cold, make extra effort to smile and appear welcoming.
Mirror Expressions & postures
Mirroring other people’s postures and expression is natural, and it’s hard wired into the human brain. The most obvious forms of mirroring are yawning and smiling (Whenever you see someone yawning, you are likely to yawn immediately, or during next 30 seconds).
As adults, we mirror gestures and expressions when we talk with people we are interested in, like or agree with. This is an effective way to build rapport and this is essential in developing useful business relationships. You mirror a person by observing their posture and expressions, and subtly letting your body reflect the same. When the other person starts mirroring your own expressions, it’s an indicator that you’ve developed good mutual rapport.
Watch you voice tone
Voice tone is an important aspect of communication and yet people rarely pay any attention to their voice tone. Tone is about the volume you use, and the emphasis you place on the words that you choose when you speak.
Your listeners will create an impression of how you feel from the tone of your voice, especially when they cannot see you (Phone calls), do you sound pleasant and friendly, angry and upset, or irritated and frustrated?
Practice recording yourself repeat a sentence in a friendly tone, harsh tone and sarcastic tone and notice the difference in each. Now pay more attention to this whenever you’re interacting with someone in a professional setting.