Sometimes the most important message you convey is the one you communicate without even opening your mouth. Your body language — facial expressions, gestures, nervous habits and other movements — is an important part of your overall professional presence and can contribute to your success at work. Be aware of what your non-verbal communication says to colleagues, superiors, employees and clients and polish your professional image.
This is a perfect example of how a small adjustment in body language can make a big difference. Stand in front of a mirror in your normal position. What do you notice? Do you tend to slouch your shoulders or look down? Practice standing up straight, with your head held high and your shoulders relaxed and pulled back. Do the same thing with your seated position, keeping your back straight against the chair and finding a comfortable place for your legs.
2. Arms and Legs
Standing and sitting up straight are not the only body language cues that count; how you carry your arms and legs is also important to your professional presence. Crossing your arms tightly across your chest, for example, can tell others that you are closed-off or unreceptive. Fidgeting your feet or legs can communicate that you are nervous, anxious or impatient. Focus on keeping your limbs relaxed and natural, conveying an open friendliness and confidence.
3. Eyes and Facial Expression
Your eyes and facial expression can easily give away your emotions when communicating with others. Be conscious of what you are saying with these non-verbal cues, and pay attention to the bad habits you have. Do you let your eye contact slip when you are losing interest in the conversation? Do you furrow your brow when you are hearing information you don’t like? Make an effort to avoid these behaviors, while practicing habits that improve professional presence, such as holding eye contact, relaxing a tense brow and smiling or nodding when appropriate.
4. Personal Space
Every individual has a range of personal space that he or she is comfortable with, and this can vary with many factors, including location, culture and personality. Notice what distance you are comfortable with when speaking with others, and be respectful of the personal space of others. If you notice someone is leaning or backing away from you when you are talking, they may be telling you to give them more room. Make more space between you to avoid causing discomfort or anxiety.
What other types of body language influence professional image? Add your observations in the comments section.
Learn more about the EDSI Professional Presence in a Casual World course.