It’s an often cited misnomer that over 90% of communication is done nonverbally. I.e. it’s not what we say that really matters, but how we say it, and what kind of body language we have.
While claiming that over 90% of what we communicate to other people is in how we say it is putting altogether too much emphasis on body language, it is still true that body language is important. Our body language gives others subtle clues about how we feel about ourselves, how comfortable we are with the situations we’re in, and how we expect to be treated by others.
With all this in mind, these are some simple body language hacks to help you succeed at work.
Smile and nod only when it’s called for
We’re not saying go around scowling all day, but too much smiling and nodding can carry with it the subtle message of appeasement – particularly if you are the only women in a meeting full of men. Keep your nodding smiles to moments when there’s a definite reason to. Also, keep your head straight. A head tilt can come across as being subordinate.
Keep eye contact
Being confident enough to maintain eye-contact with someone for at least two seconds but not more than five seconds (also don’t do a split-second glance and look away!) shows that you are confident, engaging, and worthy of attention. By taking the time to make eye contact with those in a meeting, starting with the most senior person in the room, you show that you have credibility and are trustworthy.
Have a balanced stance
Standing with more weight on one foot than the other will shift your hips and can make you appear off-balance. Stand with your weight spread evenly between each foot and you’ll look stable and in control.
Initiate the handshakes
Being the person to initiate the handshake gives you the power in a situation. Make eye contact and keep the shake firm and confident. When done right it can be a very useful power move.