Body Language That’s Killing Your Career

No matter how great you are at your job, there are some crucial mannerisms that could be killing your credibility. Body language and gestures can make or break a deal, trust and respect, so here are some gestures to avoid if you want to get taken seriously in business.

1. Nodding your head too much

It’s fine to be in agreement with others and nod to show you understand or agree with what they’re saying. After all, it shows you’re paying attention and listening to what they say.

But too many nods and you can look overly enthusiastic (which may not be the best approach for a business deal) or like you belong on a car dashboard. If your neck is starting to hurt from all the nodding, it’s time to tone it down.

On the flipside, shaking your head while you’re trying to make a point undermines what you have to say.

2. Arms folded or hands in pockets

Folding your arms is easy to do because it’s so comfortable. But if you’re asking for something, or being asked a question, it can come across as closed off, defensive or even weak, like you’re trying to protect yourself.

The same goes for hands are in your pockets. Not only does this look like you’re uninterested, it also makes you look unapproachable. So keep your body language open and receptive to what people are saying.

3. Fidgeting

Scratching your face, playing with your hair or tapping your feet makes you look nervous. So no matter how anxious you are, be aware of your movements and keep your arms by your side so you can make natural gestures.

It’s not all bad though, with fidgeting actually thought to help with weight loss. A study published in the Medicine and Science journal found fidgeting and other daily movement can help maintain fitness levels.


4. No eye contact

Not making eye contact when you speak to people can also show you’re uninterested and nervous. A study by the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling measured video calls between people and found that those with eye contact increased retention of what was said on the call.

So looking at the clock, the ground or the ceiling isn’t going to leave a memorable impression, so practice trying to break the habit. Start with just one person, then build up to an audience where you can make eye contact with everyone.

5. Slouching

Posture is one of the most important aspects of body language to pay attention to. Often, good posture goes unnoticed, but bad posture is immediately spotted. Whether it’s during a presentation or a job interview, standing up straight and holding your head high is crucial.

Again, this comes down to practice. If you sit at a desk, pull your shoulders back so you’re not slumped over a computer all day.

Main pic: Gideon via Flickr