When you cultivate good body language, you create a more welcoming work environment with happier employees. It doesn’t matter if you are a Chief Operations Officer (COO), a CEO, or just the guy delivering mail in the office, your body language counts and determines how people evaluate and respect you in the workplace. Poor body language makes a bad impression and leads to misunderstandings. Here are the five worst body language mistakes you could make at work and how to fix them.
1. Keeping Your Cell Phone in Sight
People unknowingly make this common body language mistake.
Keeping your cell phone in sight during meetings makes employees think you’re more interested in the cell phone than in them. They assume if the phone buzzes, you’ll check it. I have personally witnessed a situation where an employee was nonchalantly rebuked by the Cheif Operations Officer of the company, in front of the CEO no less, just for having his phone on the conference table.
Always keep your cell phone out of sight during meetings. Use a watch or the clock to check the time.
2. Never Smiling
Smiling while you communicate puts people at ease.
You don’t have to smile the entire time. Just allow yourself to smile if the other person smiles. Or laugh when the person makes a joke.
No need for a big, toothy grin either. A slight upward curve of the lips is fine as long as it looks genuine.
And don’t forget to smile when you’re talking on the phone. Body language transfers to your voice too, so when you aren’t smiling, you sound more monotone. Smiling helps convey a sense of warmth and enthusiasm to the person on the other line. And don’t worry if smiling on demand doesn’t come to you immediately. It happens to a lot of individuals. In fact, I have been to a COO training conference where accomplished executives were told to smile while conversing, as part of personality and body language training. Many of the COO in attendance found it incredibly awkward but were able to loosen up after just a bit of trying.
3. Mismatching Your Body Language and Words
Your body language should match your words because people believe body language more than what you say. Even if you don’t mean to send the wrong message, others will receive it that way.
So if you’re praising someone for doing a good job, your body language should indicate that you’re happy with their work. Keep your arms uncrossed, smile, and let your voice be enthusiastic.
4. Failing to Mirror the Person You’re Talking To
Throughout the conversation, match the other person’s body language, so they feel like you understand them. Behavioral aspects to mirror are the tone of voice, posture, tempo, and gestures.
If someone is talking excitedly about a new project, remaining monotone and calm conveys that you don’t care. Match the other person’s excitement with a higher tone of voice, faster speech, and more gestures to mirror how the individual is expressing his enthusiasm.
5. Lack of Facial Expressions
If your face is blank all the time, people will think that you’re not interested in what they’re saying. To show interest try raising your eyebrows, leaning forward, or nodding your head.
Eye contact during conversation is also critical. When you need to glance away, don’t look down as that signifies a lack of confidence. Either look left or right to send the right message.
Changing your body language makes a positive difference in your workplace. Sometimes a small smile at the right moment or a nod of the head is just what someone needs to feel like you’re interested in what they have to say. Avoid these five body language mistakes at work and employees will be happier and more productive. This is particularly required of you if you are in a COO caliber role, as your body language and the vibes it throws off can ripple down to many levels of employees who report to you.
Do you have any other body language tips? Please share in the comments.
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