Mr. Sinha is the head of his department with about 8 people working with him. He is a great manager and everyone can put forth their ideas during team meetings. But one thing befuddled everyone who worked with him. As people started talking about their ideas, Sinha would slouch in his chair, close his eyes and get comfortable. Anyone who saw him could be sure that he wasn’t listening. One day, a member of his team decided to discuss this with him and both of them were surprised. Mr. Sinha had no idea that his body language was coming across as exactly the opposite of what he meant. And the member of his team figured that sitting back in his chair was his boss’s way of concentrating on the idea being discussed.
That worked out for Mr. Sinha and his team. But there are so many wrong body language cues we give through out the day and we don’t even realise. Here are a few body language blunders you should watch out against:
1. Not smiling: This can immediately slot you as serious or rude. Sometimes we don’t realise how our expressions are arranged due to various reasons – exhaustion, preoccupation, boredom or plain dislike for the speaker!
Smiling when people talk to you or when you greet them makes you come across as friendly. It is also a good idea to nod once in a while to acknowledge the speaker.
2. Checking your phone: This much more common than you realise. When it comes to checking our phones, our fingers seem to have a life of their own. They just reach out and start scrolling through notifications. It’s more offensive when someone is talking to you and you get busy with your phone. It is not just rude but downright insulting.
Ensure that your phone is tucked away in a drawer or don’t carry it to meetings where your undivided attention is required. Putting temptation away is one of the best ways to deal with it. This will also bring back the good old eye contact with people.
3. Slouching: There are times when we are too tired to care. And interestingly, our body unconsciously obeys our state of mind and goes into a slouch when our mind slouches, so to say.
It might be fine to let go in the privacy of your cabin. But it is very important to sit up and be active when, say people are around and come up to you to talk. Also, slouching is bad for your back and posture. If you feel tired sitting on the chair, instead of leaning back to continue working, try taking a walk to the water cooler and back. Keep yourself hydrated and straighten your spine.
4. Not listening: This one is also pretty easy in our super distracted world. If you don’t make eye contact, it doesn’t seem like you are listening. Apart from the unwillingness to listen – as seems to be the case with the US President – there can be several ways to switch off. And we need to be on guard for these switches.
Looking at the person who is talking to you is one of the simplest ways to focus. But ensure that your mind is open too. Human beings are subconsciously attuned to pick up non verbal cues and your vacant eye contact will not go unnoticed.
Here are 5 ways to listen better by Julian Treasure himself.
5. Wrong handshake: If you ask me, there can be nothing simpler than a handshake. You hold someone’s hand, shake it a couple of times and let go! But there are sweaty limp palms, death grippy palms and reluctant fingers – not even the whole palm. And there is more if you are a woman – limp handshakes in the name of being treated delicately.
I have actually had male clients comment on the firmness of my handshake. They seemed to be taken aback since it goes contrary to their belief that a woman’s handshake has to be, I don’t know, soft, devoid of power. A handshake is very telling since it comes right at the start when you meet someone. Sweaty palms just don’t say – I am confident and looking forward to doing business with you. Learn the right way to shake hands and practice it with friends and family. Ensure the palms meet and the pressure is just right.
Read more about the 5 kinds of handshakes to avoid
Our body language speaks volumes even when we keep quiet. And getting it right is one of the most important things to take care of to be successful in personal and professional life. Here is more food for thought: 15 body language errors that successful people never make
Is there something that bothers you about others’ body language – too much eye contact, disinterested looks or moving away instead of leaning in to listen? Share with the readers here and help them learn.