5 Ways to Use Body Language to Your Advantage
Body language can be a powerful tool in the workplace, as long as you know how to use it to your advantage. Discover why and how this nonverbal communication tool can be useful in professional settings.
There are many things to consider when conducting yourself in the workplace, whether it’s for an interview or in your established place of business. Both verbal and nonverbal communication play a key part in this. Perhaps the most important nonverbal form of communication is body language. We can often intuit when someone displays hostile or friendly body language, but how can you use these cues to your advantage?
It may help to first understand why body language is so important. Job Skills points out that roughly 55 percent of humans’ communication is nonverbal. This means that smiling can do more to build an instant connection with others than simply saying “hello.” Decisive hand gestures can more strongly emphasize a point than words alone. And standing with your feet in a wide stance can convey an attitude of confidence that subconsciously encourages listeners to trust you. In other words, body language is able to convey our emotions and intentions in ways that words cannot. And that’s a pretty powerful tool. Here are five quick ways you can begin using body language to your advantage in the workplace.
1. Make eye contact
Making eye contact with someone, both while you are speaking and listening, conveys the impression that you are giving your coworker your full attention. Most people just want to be heard, so this idea that you are fully engaged with them will instantly create a sense of warmness and comradery. Meeting someone’s eyes also shows you have nothing to hide.
2. Use an open hand
When using hand gestures, the BBC’s Science Focus emphasizes that you should never point with your finger. This is for a couple of reasons: In various cultures, pointing at other people is considered rude because “it's associated with blame allocation.” Your listener could feel accused or the object of criticism, even if you don’t mean it that way. This can lead to negative and defensive feelings that will jeopardize the point you’re trying to make. Instead, use an open hand to gesture.
While all of the above may seem like a lot of information, you don’t have to be an expert in order to reap the benefits of this nonverbal form of communication. In fact, just knowing the basics of body language can help you avoid mistakes and set the right tone for your future workplace interactions. Feeling confident about your abilities and your skills can go a long way in showing others your professional value.