Body Language | What works at work

by Betty Lochner on October 26, 2011

Your positive body language can be the key to success in your work.  It helps you give a good impression, convince clients, and please your boss.

Only a small percentage of communication involves actual words: 7%, to be exact. In fact, 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice).

Think about it. Before you even open your mouth, the rest of your body has already spoken volumes.

What does your body language say about you? Does it say you’re confident, smart, and enthusiastic—or
just the opposite?

Here are some tips on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to your body language at work.

What Works

Maintain eye contact –  This shows your interest and eagerness to listen.

Smile – When you smile, you show that you aren’t under pressure. It’s an easy way for others to see you are handling things very easily.

Key your eye levels even – If the other person is standing, stand.  If they are sitting, sit. This creates a feeling of being equal and open.

Stand side by side – The best way to build rapport with a colleague is to stand side by side. They feel you are with them, in rapport, rather than in competition.

Lean in – Keep your head up, and lean slightly forward. This shows you are attentive and interested.

Sit erect –  You look more alert and alive when you sit and stand erect.

Use your hands – Make use of your hands to punctuate or emphasize what you are saying (just don’t over do it). Hand gestures also signifies that you are honest and knowledgeable of what you are talking about.

What doesn’t Work

The wrong body language, done consciously or unconsciously, could give the wrong impression to your boss, co-workers, and clients. Therefore, avoid the following:

Don’t point – Never point in meetings as it makes people feel accused. Even when you are angry or trying to emphasize a detail, it is regarded as a rude gesture.

Don’t look bored – Refrain from showing signs of boredom and lack of interest. These signs include arms crossed over the chest, eyes on objects other than the person talking or the presentation itself, yawning, drumming your fingers on the table, or tapping your foot.

Don’t frown – Frowning is, well, frowned upon.

Don’t slouch – Slouching reflects laziness.

Keep your hands out of your pockets – The hands-in-pocket gesture signifies insecurity (even if you aren’t), nervousness, boredom, and/or dishonesty.

When you pay attention to your body language at work,  you will show yourself as a competent, engaged employee.  You may be surprised at the good things that start to come your way at work!

Betty Lochner, Cornerstone Coaching & Training

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings, please visit my website:

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