November 28, 2016

3 Body Language Tips To Use At Work

One of our values at Taylor Strategy Partners is being in tune—with others, with your environment, and with yourself. When you’re in tune, it’s easier to make better decisions, handle conflict, be engaged, and create a positive workplace culture. Nonverbal communication, such as body language, is one example of being in tune.

Nonverbal communication is defined as “behavior and elements of speech aside from the words themselves that transmit meaning.” Some aspects of nonverbal communication include gestures, facial expressions, posture, and movements.

Studies find that body language accounts for approximately 55% of the overall message in face-to-face communication, while the words you speak account for only 7%, and tone of voice accounts for 38%. While the ways we communicate with our coworkers and clients is undoubtedly important, the way our bodies communicate with our brains can influence our engagement and workplace attitude.

In other words, changing your body language can change your mood when you’re working on a challenging project or listening to a presentation. In fact, there’s a science behind it.

1. Smile, even when you may not feel like it. Psychologists have found that smiling can improve our moods and decrease stress. Participants with a forced smile (i.e. holding a pen in your teeth to replicate a smile), reported more positive feelings than those who did not smile at all in one study. While smiling may make you more approachable and change others' perceptions of you, smiling can also make a difficult project seem enjoyable.

2. Look at your feet.  Without being cognizant of it, our feet usually point to where we want to go. Even if you’re in an interesting conversation, your foot pointing towards the door gives away that you’re looking for an out. In other words, the direction of your feet precedes the action itself. By ensuring your feet are pointing towards the person you are talking with, you may find you’re less rushed to exit a meeting or conversation.

3. Uncross your arms…or don’t.  You may have read that having crossed arms means your defensive or not listening. Well, it’s complicated. Crossed arms can mean a variety of things—a self hug to invoke comfort, body blocking to reduce insecurity, restraint due to frustration, or a barrier to distance yourself. Being aware of this, however, is key. If you find yourself crossing your arms in a meeting or conversation with a coworker, try uncrossing them. Open your body and you may find you’re more receptive to the information being shared.

Being aware of your body language and knowing how to adapt is critical in order to be in tune with others and yourself. Next time you have a “case of the Mondays” or a stressful project, force a smile. Try these few tricks to spark your engagement; doing so can make your workday a little more productive and successful. If you feel better, you work better.

If you’re interested in learning more about the social psychology behind nonverbal communication, check out Amy Cuddy’s TEDtalk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.

Tags: employee engagement

Cheyanne Cierpial

Cheyanne joined TSP as a Marketing Coordinator, working with the team on social media, content creation, and event coordination. After graduating from Denison University, she moved to Columbus where she can be found exploring bookstores and coffee shops during her free time. 

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