The Do’s and Don’ts of Body Language in the Work Place

Body language says a lot about our personality and how we respond to a situation. Feigning interest in a subject during an interview or other job setting isn’t as easy as it seems. Being inattentive, timid, or downright impolite can allow for opportunities to pass by. Nonverbal communication is just as important as a great resume, appropriate attire, and proper language!

Now you’re at the interview and want to secure a new position. Or perhaps you’ve begun working and have a big meeting coming up. Here are some tips and tricks to stay professional in terms of body language:

Let’s start with eye contact! Don’t look to the side, down, or around the room. Instead, address the person or people you are speaking to with direct eye contact. Staring contests are not necessary but engaging in active eye contact shows others that you are attentive, confident, and interested in the conversation!

Smiling is also an underrated piece of nonverbal communication. Do feel free to smile during an interview or meeting. Though topics may be serious, a soft smile can tell the other person that their communication is effective and you understand the topic at hand. We want to avoid a resting “mean” face or give off the impression of being annoyed.

Next up, the handshake. Some may feel nervous when first introducing themselves but have no fear! Most importantly, Don’t give a limp handshake (the dead fish). Confidence comes in many forms. A nervous smile and no direct eye contact could undermine how truly prepared you are. Instead, keep in mind the first two Do’s! Be sure to smile, make direct eye contact, and firmly grasp and shake the other’s hand. Two to three shakes will do!

Engaging in an interview or meeting isn’t the time to sit as if we’re surrounded by best friends. Believe it or not, one’s body language when it comes to sitting can be a real telltale sign of disinterest. Do sit up straight with one’s back against the chair and feet straight on the floor. With this posture, you’re giving off the message you’re ready to join in. Don’t slouch or put feet up on the chair. Also, limit fidgeting in the chair such as swinging of the legs or mindless tapping of the feet. These things can be distracting and take away from the situation.

Now that we’ve mastered how to sit, what about our hands? To remain professional, Do keep arms uncrossed on the table. Be sure to refer to the video for specific hand placement. Notice how keeping the arms crossed around the body gives an unresponsive vibe. Similarly, avoid using the arms to prop the face or hunch over the table/desk. When in doubt, keep your hands calmly placed in your lap. Using the hands to engage in the conversation is totally appropriate, just Don’t conduct a band when doing so!

Last but not least, let’s stand positive! A big Don’t is hiding hands in the pockets of our jacket or pants. Also, avoid “sitting on your hip” or holding the arms behind the body. Do stand up straight, as it is truly representative of your confidence level and that you are comfortable in the space.

Now you’re ready to ace that interview or simply stay professional in the work place! Good luck!


By: Jamie Dolce

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