Did you know people believe your body language more than the words you say? Studies show that your words make up only 7 percent of the message you send and the rest is non verbal, a combination of what they see and the tone you use. If your body language is sending a conflicting message, here are some things you can avoid to send instead, a message of confidence!
Crossing Your Arms and Leaning Back in Your Chair
Where you put your arms and whether you are leaning back or forward says a lot about how receptive you are to what’s being said. Leaning back like this with arms folded says you have no interest and that you’ve heard enough. Putting them behind your head is even worse, displaying an alpha male dominance in the group, like you’re ready to fight off a tiger. Instead, lean in to the conversation, make eye contact and nod your head occasionally. Cross your legs under the chair and point your feet toward the person speaking.
Looking Down at Your Laptop Instead of Making Eye Contact
Unless you are the one assigned to taking notes for the entire group (and that’s another blog) it’s important to avoid spending the meeting looking down at your laptop or your pad of paper. People need to see your face and your eye contact, not the top of your head! It’s fine to take notes, but make sure to look up and engage with others at least as much as you look down. It’s also important to appear present instead of distracted by email or other projects. Working on other tasks is disrespectful to the person running the meeting and the others attending.
Making Yourself Small by Crossing Your Legs and Tucking in Your Arms
Often women tuck in their arms and legs like this because they are cold, but be careful about sending a message you don’t intend. Unless you’re shivering, people might mistake this for lack of interest. Give yourself permission to take up space like everyone else in the meeting. Sit or stand up tall like your grandmother taught you. Lean in, act interested. Leaning in says – tell me more!
Don’t be a “lint picker” either. Playing with your clothing, hair other other irrelevant actions makes you look distracted and uninterested. Instead, keeping your arms by your sides will help you appear confident and relaxed, instead of self-conscious like the poor woman above.
Show Confidence and Positivity
Understanding nonverbal communications is critical for leaders. Your success hinges on your ability to develop rapport with others and communicate clearly. You may not have been aware of the messages you are sending with your body language, but those around you are getting a message you may not have intended. Being aware of your body language, as much as your words, will go a long way toward communicating a message of openness, interest and confidence.
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