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Language is not limited to uttered words and expressions alone. By its textbook definition, language can also include non-verbal cues, gestures, and actions. Although human language might seem like it has no place in a corporate boardroom, how you move, act, speak and carry yourself can actually affect your success in your career, business dealings, and productivity.
Some mannerisms or non-verbal cues can be damaging to your career plans. Although there are some habits that may be hard to get rid of, try your hardest at minimizing or ultimately applying these risky actions.
Maintain Eye Contact
If you want to create an impression that you are interested in knowing someone new even further, or if you would like to show that you are interested in their insights over a project or endeavour, make sure to partner your words with good eye contact. Looking away too often, or not looking at the person you are talking to at all is not only disrespectful, it sends off a message that you are not interested in building a relationship. Since businesses thrive on honest and good relationships, you might want to make eye contact a habit.
Fix Your Posture
Slouching or low, dropped shoulders do not only indicate a great deal of disinterest and unpreparedness on your part, but it also makes you seem more stressed and unhealthy. You look less active and awake when your shoulders are drooping, and those who encounter you would most likely try to avoid you instead because you probably look like you are one coffee mug away from an office tussle.
Your posture reflects your confidence in yourself, in the work that you do, and most importantly, in your potential. Train your body to maintain good posture through consistent exercise, a healthy diet, and by working from an ergonomic standing desk.
Lower back exercises are particularly helpful in training your body to maintain good posture. It is imperative that you train your back soon before symptoms of osteoporosis or arthritis sink in and ultimately keep you from standing erect.
Give a Strong, Sincere Handshake
Aside from keeping eye contact when speaking or spoken to, giving the people you meet strong handshake hints at your sincerity to know them and to create a relationship. A strong, sincere handshake is also a powerful gesture that delivers one of the most important business statements you can tell a new acquaintance without talking. It simply says: “I mean business.”
If you mean business, if your plan is to create an empire out of what you have today, and if you want to establish better relationships, start off your introductions with a strong, sincere handshake. Good handshakes are hard to forget, so if you want to put your foot forward and create a good first impression, start with this simple, yet powerful, gesture.
Crossing Your Arms in front of You
Perhaps one of the most common gestures that indicate fear and defensiveness is when people cross their arms in front of them. In the animal kingdom (of which we are very much part of), animals tend to protect their stomachs when they feel threatened. This explains why some animals crouch when in fear-- they are trying to keep their stomach away from a full view of their opponent as they keep their claws ready for an attack before them. In the business world, people who cross their arms before you want to build a roadblock rather than an opportunity to connect.
If you want to be successful, you should present yourself as a welcoming individual. This means you should fight every urge to assume a defensive position even (especially!) when you don’t mean to.
Checking the Time Too Often
Unless you’re a white rabbit on your way to a tea party, avoid checking the time too frequently. This little gesture sends off many negative messages that confident, busy, and competitive professionals can pick up very easily. The initial reaction this might make is that you are in a hurry, and therefore, unable to manage your time well. Another reaction that it might trigger is that you are unhappy where you are now and you’d rather be someplace else. Either way, both reactions are insulting to the person you are talking to, and it reflects negatively on your character.
If you find yourself checking the clock without meaning to do so, you may simply be anxious. Your body wants to divert its attention away from what’s making it so stressed, so you begin to stare at the time instead. It’s not your fault if this is how your body tries to manage anxiety, but if you want to be successful in your career, or if you want to build a good rapport with people who could one-day aid you in your goals, try to be more confident in your interactions with VIPs.
Remember that your actions are just as powerful as your words. In the corporate environment, you are judged based on what you say, on what you decide to do for your career, and most importantly, on the way you carry yourself. Present yourself with interest, confidence, and trustworthiness, and watch as opportunities unfold before you.