Whether you're answering questions at a job interview, chatting by the water cooler with a colleague or pitching an idea to your boss, part of your message comes across in the nonverbal cues. You may not even be aware of how your audience perceives your body language, from your eye contact, handshake and posture to your hand gestures, facial expressions and habitual movements. Find out what your body language says about you.
Do: Sit Straight
Sit up in your chair with your back straight and feet on the floor. This typically conveys that you are paying attention to the speaker or engaged in the meeting.
Don't slump to one side, slouch in your chair or lean too far back. This type of body language makes you appear lazy and uninterested in the interview or conversation.
Do: Lean Forward
When someone else is talking, lean forward just a bit to show that you're actively listening. If necessary, turn your chair so that your whole body, not just your head, is facing the speaker.
Even if you're nervous, avoid the desire to fidget with a pen, rustle papers, tap your fingers on the table or shake your legs. Such body language gives the impression that you're bored.
Smile when you introduce yourself and maintain a natural smile as you answer questions or interact. This demonstrates a positive, upbeat personality and makes you appear more approachable.
Don't: Point or Gesture Wildly
Avoid pointing directly at another person, and be careful not to make sharp, choppy hand gestures, as this could come across as aggressive behavior.
Do: Tilt Your Head
To show that you're really listening to the speaker, considering his viewpoints or feeling empathy, tilt your head slightly toward the person.
Don't: Nod Excessively
Nodding a few times throughout the speaker's dialogue lets him know you're listening and invites him to continue talking, but you can quickly overdo this body language. Nodding too much becomes distracting, and it makes you appear overly eager and submissive.
Do: Maintain Eye Contact
Whether you're talking or listening, maintain comfortable eye contact, but don't stare blankly at the speaker. If you're in front of a several interviewers, split your eye contact appropriately between the panelists. Show your confidence by holding your eye contact during a handshake.
Don't: Cross Your Arms or Legs
Don't cross your arms or legs, as this makes you seem unapproachable, uncomfortable and closed off from the interviewer or speaker. Practice a relaxed posture that feels natural.
The body language you present in a job interview or any other interaction, along with your verbal message, helps your audience form an impression of you. Being aware of what your body language conveys about you lets you avoid sending the wrong message.
Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net