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Office body language to avoid at all cost

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A lot of your time in the office is focused around words. Talking to colleagues, emailing clients or meeting with the boss – all these interactions will have you think carefully about the words you choose since you’re aware of the impact they can have.

Although words can say a lot, once you feel like you’ve got your office lingo under control, you might want to focus on the messages your body language is sending.

“The body doesn’t lie. It tells people the truth,” body language expert Dr. Lillian Glass told Glassdoor’s Amy Elisa Jackson. When asked for insight on office body language by  Jackson, she added that colleagues will look at you very negatively if you do not watch your behaviour.

To help people identify the types of body language they should be avoiding, Jackson compiled a list of nine types and their meaning as explained by Glass. We’ve listed the four most interesting ones below.

1. Slouching in the back of a conference room

You might be aware that you shouldn’t slouch in your chair when you’re heading up a meeting, but what if you’re sitting all the way in the back as a passive participant? The answer is the same, don’t slouch.

“Somebody with a good posture is perceived as being successful and competent,” Glass says. “You may not be, but you will be perceived to be and that’s half the battle.”

2. Staring into your boss’s eyes

Eye contact is important, but according to Glass there is such thing as too much eye contact. As a guideline, she suggests looking at the total face for 2 seconds, the eyes for 2 seconds, the nose for 2 seconds, the mouth for 2 seconds, and then going back to the whole face.

Of course don’t get so focused on counting the seconds that you forget to pay attention to what your boss is saying. That’s still worse than any body language flaw.

3. Crossing your arms or legs in a meeting

Most people will have heard this one at some point, but since it’s such a hard habit to kick, it’s worth the reminder: don’t cross any parts of your body. Crossing your arms or legs suggests you’re closed off, which is never a good thing when trying to communicate.

4. Gesturing with closed hands

Although hand gestures can be a powerful tool when trying to get your message across, be careful which gestures you use. Glass suggests you try to keep your palms open as that is perceived as being “more honest, more sensitive and more forthright,” she told Glassdoor.

ALSO READ: Lost in translation at the international workplace

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