Useful Body Language Tips For The Workplace

Want to use body language to improve the way you perform in the workplace? These tips should help.

Boost Confidence

The best way to boost confidence quickly (albeit temporarily) is to assume an authoritative pose. You can do this whether you’re sitting or standing by simply taking as much space as you can without apology. Find the most comfortable pose you can get yourself into, using as much space as is necessary and relax.

If you need some guidance, try these. When sitting, lean back, put your hands behind your head and plant your feet on the table in front. Yep, sitting like a real boss. When standing, spread your legs wide and put your hands on your hips with the elbows sticking out (imagine a cowboy from old Western flicks during a duel).

These types of high-power poses aren’t only comfortable, they tend to stimulate higher level of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol (i.e. the stress hormone). As a result, you’ll immediately feel more confident and less averse to taking risks.

Feel Better

Stress getting to you? Office politics leaving you frustrated? A client’s unreasonable demands starting to put a frown on your face? Yeah, we’ve all been there. And no matter the level of crap you’re dealing with, it all eventually ends. So just smile and let it be.

Smiling forces your brain and nervous system to adapt what’s inside to what’s outside. If you’re smiling, then you should be feeling good. So your body responds accordingly. Make sure to smile with your whole face, though, not just the mouth. Instead, let the smile run up to your nose and your eyes, crinkling your eyebrow and making your cheeks rise.

As a bonus, wearing a big smile on your face tends to affect those around you directly. If you’re smiling and someone looks at you, it’s almost always an instinctual response for them to smile, too. And their inside will adapt to the outside smile they just put on as well. It’s that infectious.

Encourage Others To Participate

It’s hard getting people to participate during meetings. Most would rather just work through the to-do list from their inbox, finish as much as they can and go home, instead of sit in the conference room and pretend to be interested at what’s going on. As such, you see majority of employees just sit quietly, offer no feedback and make no effort to participate even the least bit.

Why is that? Most employees simply don’t think their voice matters and it’s true in a lot of organizations. As such, getting invested in policy matters simply isn’t in their interest, since they just assume whoever holding the meeting is just trying to push their own agenda (whatever it may be).

If you’d really like people to participate, you need to eliminate this concern. And you can do that by showing that you value their opinion in non-verbal terms. How? Anytime someone speaks up, face that person, turn your whole body and lean towards them — this shows you’re actually interested in what people have to say. Avoid defensive postures such as crossing your arm, holding a cup of coffee to your chest or turning your back on someone speaking. Such a show of interest is the quickest way to encourage everyone else to speak up and have their say.

Make Collaboration Easy

Want to collaborate on a project with a group of people? No problem, this happens in workplaces all the time. If you want the collaboration to be fruitful, though, it’s important to make sure collaborating is easy. And we don’t mean just having the right tools for it.

The real biggest hindrance to collaboration are physical obstacles. If you’re in the 20th floor and are working on a collaborative project with three people on the 3rd floor, that’s a whole lot of physical space separating you from each other. While they can always call, text or chat, all those things can feel intrusive if the communication needs to happen frequently (e.g. they find new things they need to ask every 4 minutes).

If you want to promote real collaboration, remove the physical obstacle. Instead of working in your own usual spots, set up a new workplace where all of you in the project can work together. Having collaborative partners next to you makes everything easier, as you can approach them without having to jump through unnecessary hoops.

Connect Quickly

The easiest, simplest and most straightforward way for people to connect is also the oldest and most traditional: the handshake. Every time you meet someone new in the workplace, reach out and offer to shake hands. That all too common, everyday body language may sound too simple, but it really does a lot to establish an open, friendly and inviting tone.

Gain Rapport

Want to gain someone’s trust? Mirror them. If they’re sitting, then sit as well. If they have their hands clasped, then clasp your hands, too. If they laugh, then laugh with them. And don’t worry about it looking unnatural. Mirroring is common in human communication — people normally just do it unconsciously to show they like you, trust you or agree with you.

Mirroring makes the other person feel understood and accepted. It makes them feel like you’re in sync. As such, it almost always fosters rapport when done correctly. Oh yeah, mirroring works great for flirting body language, too.

Talk Better

When giving a speech or a presentation, use your hands. Science has shown that the region of the brain that’s crucial to speech production is activated not just when we’re talking, but when we wave our hands, too. As such, performing both gives it double the stimulation, leading to clearer and more sensible verbal content.

Not convinced? Experiment with it. Record yourself talking about a subject with your hands tucked inside your pockets; then record yourself while using hand gestures at the same time. Almost every single time, you’ll find the version with the hand gestures always sounding much better.

Sound More Authoritative

If you want your voice to sound authoritative (like before a presentation or an important conference call), do this: keep your lips together and make the sound “um hum” repeatedly. This will allow your voice to relax into an optimal pitch that’s neither too high nor too low.