Better body language for career success

by Grace

The right body language can make a difference in both career and personal success.

Body language is the gestures, movements, and mannerisms by which people (and animals too) communicate to others.

For most individuals, body language just happens naturally. But others have found a way to elevate themselves using their body language to draw attention to their talents, raise their stature, and enhance their charisma.

One of the most consistent recommendations for improving your body language in business situations is to mirror the behavior of your colleague or client.  I used to practice doing this, and finally got to a point where it became second nature.

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Crossing your arms is often considered a negative sign, while staying open with your body is viewed as positive.  Leaning in to the other person is usually good, but crowding in too closely can be a bad move.

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Here are some body language tips from lifehack.org that cover common business scenarios.

A job interview:

  • Lead into the interviewer when you are speaking
  • Mirror the interviewer
  • Physically stay open with your body language so you don’t appear defensive

Asking your boss for a raise:

  • Mirror his or her behavior then and initiate new body language
  • Sit or stand very still except cannot focus completely on your boss
  • Keep your torso and face pointed towards him or her

Disagreeing while remaining cordial:

  • Raise your eyebrows slightly to show receptivity
  • Smile and nod frequently
  • Touch the person appropriately in a nonthreatening way

These are all good tips, but the key is in executing them properly.  Smiling and nodding can come off as patronizing if it’s overdone.  And touching “appropriately” can be a tricky move.  It makes sense to engage a professional coach or a trusted mentor to help practice these important skills.

Related:  10 body language mistakes women leaders make (Financial Post)

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8 Comments to “Better body language for career success”

  1. This stuff is really subtle.

    I know that for autistic kids, one of the things we teach is making eye contact.

    Unfortunately, you can take a child from not making any eye contact to unblinking steady eye contact that freaks people out. So, the actual answer is to make some eye contact, but not too much. Hard!!!

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  2. And some people seem to come by these skills naturally. They’re born that way.

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  3. Someone needs to teach the slackers who work in the big box store how to make eye contact, or at least acknowledge the presence of the customer in *some* way.

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  4. Department store sales staff (higher-end stores) used to consistently avoid eye contact with me, but in recent years they’ve become much more service oriented. On a recent shopping expedition to Manhattan, I was amazed at the superb customer service I received in all the stores I visited. OTOH, I was in a suburban big box store (initials HD) buying plants this week and as usual it was like pulling teeth to get help.

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  5. OT:

    I was just looking at some parents of graduating students walking around campus and thinking, wow, they don’t look that old at all.

    Uh oh.

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  6. “Uh oh.”

    Are you getting older (faster) or are the parents getting younger?

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  7. I think I’m getting older.

    On the same subject, we still have parents all over campus, and this evening I heard the tower bells playing “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof.

    Awwww.

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  8. Aww, how nice, and appropriate.

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