This lesson examines the importance of body language in the workplace and gives you several practical examples to boost your non-verbal communication skills and enhance your professional image.

Body Language

We all know the value of making a good impression, and in order to do that, we often choose our words very carefully – especially in the workplace. But what if you are sabotaging your best efforts to communicate effectively with your coworkers or clients without even realizing it? Let’s take a look at the importance of body language in the workplace and how you can use it to improve communication and make a positive impression.

Body language is a form of non-verbal communication involving gestures, movements, and posture. It can be intentional or completely unconscious. Some examples of body language include folding your arms across your chest, rolling your eyes, and slouching. Body language has a very strong influence on how people perceive you. Learning the message that these and other gestures send out to the recipients can help you become a more effective and persuasive communicator.

Body Language: Posture

Joe and Bob have both been employed as line workers for Acme Corporation for five years. They’re both good employees, articulate, and loyal, with identical attendance and production records. When it came time to offer a promotion to production manager, only one could be chosen to lead the department. Mr. Waverly, the CEO, had no trouble picking Joe over Bob for a leadership position. When asked about his quick decision, Mr. Waverly said that Joe simply looked like a leader who could motivate the workforce and Bob didn’t. Let’s take a closer look at what Mr. Waverly saw.

Joe has good posture. He stands tall and commands his space with his chest slightly out and his legs slightly apart. He projects confidence. Bob tends to slouch, whether he’s standing or sitting, which makes him appear less confident and energetic. Although his production numbers mirror Joe’s, he always looks like he’s five minutes away from his next nap.

Body Language: Facial Gestures

Joe is mindful of his facial gestures. He might think about rolling his eyes when someone is speaking, but you’d never catch him actually doing it. He has a warm smile and offers non-verbal feedback by nodding in agreement, when appropriate. Most people respond to Joe’s smile by smiling back, and it helps him build trusting relationships. Bob never smiles. He’s polite and cordial, but he doesn’t project any warmth. People are a bit wary of Bob because they can’t tell if he likes them or not. They’re also not sure if their words are making an impression on him because he maintains the same bland expression at all times.

Body Language: Eye Contact

Joe understands that in the business world in the United States, and although there are some exceptions, we are generally expected to maintain eye contact a little more than half of the time when speaking to someone. Making eye contact projects authority, trustworthiness, and confidence in this culture. Bob rarely makes eye contact, but instead looks to the right, the left, or even his shoes, rather than the person he’s conversing with. His failure to make eye contact makes some people wonder if he’s hiding something.

Open ; Closed Body Language

Joe is careful to keep his arms relaxed and open when he’s speaking to someone. He keeps his hands in sight at all times and shows his palms, as if to demonstrate that he has nothing to hide. Open body language projects confidence and credibility. Bob has closed body language. He usually keeps both hands in his pockets, taking them out only occasionally when he crosses his arms over his chest. As a result, he appears defensive and sends an unspoken message that he has something to hide.

If you were Mr. Waverly, wouldn’t you have picked Joe to motivate the workforce and lead the department? While you’re thinking about Joe and Bob, think about your own body language. What do you project? Are you sending out the right messages to help you achieve your personal goals or are you sabotaging your goals without even realizing it?

Lesson Summary

Body language is a type of non-verbal communication that involves gestures, movements, and posture. Body language can be conscious or unconscious, and it can influence how your coworkers and clients perceive you. Some examples of positive body language in the workplace include making appropriate eye contact, standing tall, and keeping your hands in sight at all times. Your ability to use body language effectively can help you become a more effective communicator, which may help you achieve your professional goals.