Body Language Flubs to Avoid at Work

  • Presentation

    Your resumé may be spotless and the quality of your work might exceed expectations, but your body language could be hindering your success at work. And whether you’re an employer or employee, how you present yourself can be the source of some workplace stress without you even realizing. Here’s how to make sure that you don’t sabotage your chances at getting a job or promotion or undermine a happy and productive work environment due to bad body language. Photo Credit: RobotSkirts
    Eye Contact
  • Eye Contact

    Too much eye contact might be uncomfortable in social situations, but some is always necessary. Eye contact at an interview specifically conveys confidence in your work and interest in a conversation. Plus, shifty eyes and lack of eye contact may make your interviewer think you’re lying, notes Harvard Business School. Then again, a fixed stare will likely make your interviewer uncomfortable. Interestingly, pathological liars seem to have perfected the amount of eye contact time needed to come off as sincere, according to Harvard. Photo Credit: rogerimp
    Personal Space at Work
  • Personal Space at Work

    Proximity can be a touchy subject in the workplace, especially in light of sometimes complex and unclear sexual harassment policies. But generally, in the United States, the closest you want to get to a coworker, interviewer or interviewee is 18 inches, according to Forbes. Going beyond those 18 inches could actually be just as uncomfortable for your coworkers as one might be when brushed up against on the subway or bus. Photo Credit: karsten.planz
    Personal Space During Interviews
  • Personal Space During Interviews

    Luckily, interviews are often at tables which help establish personal space, but getting closer than 18 inches, especially if you’re in a small cubicle, can cause some discomfort. In fact, being two or three feet away from someone might even be considered encroaching on personal space, Forbes says. And if you’re doing business in other countries, you might want to brush up on business etiquette in that part of the world, as CNNMoney.com describes. Photo Credit: Alex France
    Sitting Up Straight
  • Sitting Up Straight

    It’s no surprise that sitting or standing up straight indicates confidence, but it’s also important to consider how poor posture or other more benign seeming mannerisms might reflect on you. Slouching, having your arms folded across your chest and leaning to one side while standing or sitting can imply that you’re not engaged or interested in a conversation and you’re not up to a challenge. And having your hands in your pockets might indicate a lack of confidence, notes Forbes. Photo Credit: zenobia joy
    Hand Gestures
  • Hand Gestures

    In addition to looking sinister, there’s been an assumption that steepling your fingers like Mr. Burns on The Simpsons conveys that you’re an intellectual, according to Harvard Business School. But in fact, this gesture could make you seem pretentious. On the other hand, if your interviewer clasps his hands behind his head, it could be perceived as condescension, according to Forbes. Photo Credit: The Alieness GiselaGiardino23
    The Leg Shake
  • The Leg Shake

    Whether or not your legs are crossed, you may want to avoid that nervous leg shake. It’s a clear sign that you’re uncomfortable or nervous, and at an interview, you want to be sure that you convey confidence. Any nervous ticks for that matter could prevent you from coming across as comfortable and confident about your abilities, so if you have any twitchy habits, you may want to learn how to suppress them before you meet a prospective employer for an interview. Photo Credit: ksech
    Blank Stares
  • Blank Stares

    Even if you’re caught off guard with a question for which you’re unprepared or even if you’re bored in an interview, avoid staring back at your interviewer blankly, notes CareerBuilder. And if you’re already in the workplace, a blank stare could indicate that you’re not interested in what your employer, employee or coworker has to say, which in turn could indicate that you don’t take your job seriously. Plus, staring at your feet during an interview could be a similar indicator about your interest and personality as well. Photo Credit: Erik
    Boredom
  • Boredom

    Drumming your fingers during a conversation might be a dead giveaway that you’re disinterested, but you may be guilty of other, more subtle gesturing that implies that you’re bored during an interview or a talk with your boss or employee. For instance, “rubbing the back of your head or neck suggests you're bored by the conversation,” according to Forbes. And if you or your feet are pointing toward the door, it may look like you’re eager to end a conversation, Forbes says. Photo Credit: artemuestra
    Distraction
  • Distraction

    As an employee, there are plenty of sources of workplace distraction, even beyond useless but possibly entertaining sites on the Web. For instance, employees spend 19.2 hours a week – including 13 hours during work hours - worrying about what their boss says or does, according to WalletPop. But despite your worries, it’s important to avoid body language that could make you look bad. For instance, whether you’re at an interview or communicating verbally at work, looking away mid-sentence from a person who’s speaking to you is a clear indicator that you’re distracted, disinterested or simply unable to focus, none of which are welcome qualities in your typical workplace as far as we know. Photo Credit: megyarsh
    Checking Your Phone
  • Checking Your Phone

    Checking your phone should be an obvious job interview no-no, but that doesn’t mean you should leave it at home altogether, as some might advise. You’ll want to have a way to communicate with your interviewer if you’re running a couple of minutes late (though we’d hope you’d account for transit delays and bad weather when you’re going to meet a prospective employer). Photo Credit: liewcf
    Personal Calls
  • Personal Calls

    Different companies may have different policies about making personal calls at work, but regardless of the official rules, taking too many personal calls at your desk can imply that you’re unable to focus on your work, or frankly indicate your lack of interest in what you do. And even if it’s true that you’re not wholeheartedly invested in what earns you money, that’s not something you want to convey. Plus, it may actually affect your coworkers or employees’ job performance, notes the Los Angeles Times. To avoid being a distraction to those around you, find a private place to make cell phone calls, suggests About.com, and that doesn’t mean using a bathroom stall as phone booth. Photo Credit: bobcat rock
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