November 16, 2015 | Barb Carr

Make your Body Language Work for You

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A simple way to get respect in the workplace is to make your body language work for you.  With just a few adjustments to how you communicate nonverbally, you can change another person’s perception of you in a positive way.

Here are five tips:

  1. Keep your body language open.  Even though crossing your legs or arms does not mean that you are closed, (it could mean you are simply cold or just feel comfortable sitting or standing that way), people may still think you are “protecting” yourself.  Staying open sends a message that you are confident and in charge.
  2. Take up more space. Whether you’re sitting or standing, position your body in such a way to take up a little more space. Spread your arms and legs slightly. Insecure people tend to do the opposite and attempt to appear small.  Be confident enough to claim the space around you without apologizing for it. 
  3. Mirror the other person. Mirroring is tricky, but it works!  This means you copy how the other person is sitting or standing and match that person and his or her mannerisms. Don’t match them exactly or you will seem a little creepy, but, for example, if someone shifts from closed body language to open, subtly shift your body language as well.
  4. Don’t fidget. When you fidget, you give off a message that you are uncomfortable. Shaking your foot, bouncing your leg, and tapping your fingers are distracting. Instead, be conscious about displaying relaxed, infrequent movements.
  5. Keep your head lifted.  Avoid looking at the ground. If you pause to collect your thoughts, look up instead.  Establish good eye contact with others but don’t stare to the point of making them feel awkward.  Try mentally drawing an inverted triangle around a person’s mouth and eyes, slowly scanning the points of the triangle instead of staring directly into the eyes.

If you aren’t practicing these habits they will feel unnatural at first. However, they won’t appear strange at all to others — they will notice a positive change in you but may not be able to put a finger on exactly what the change is.  Try a new technique each week and practice each day. In just a few weeks, you’ll notice that people are treating you differently.

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