What Others Think Of You At Work: your non-verbal communication is telling others a lot


Your non-verbal communication reveals a lot more about you than you think – especially on the job. Whether we like to believe it or not, our actions say as much about us as the words we use to speak. And when you’re chained to a desk, or locked in a “think tank” for up to 10 hours each day, a lot is observed. Usually, these subtle, intentional (or not) personality gestures have more to do with unexpressed feelings. Not knowing how to speak up for one’s self, or being incapable of confrontation can lead to strange body movements, annoying habits, or a lack of respect, which is the exact opposite of what you want to happen at work.

Find out what you should and shouldn’t do while in the presence of people who can affect your career goals.

Sprinting down the hallway doesn’t win the race

Some people walk very quickly hoping to leave the impression that they’re movers and shakers with a lot on their plates. What it usually means is they have anxiety, insecurities, or have an unstable personality. Slow down and walk with good posture. You should have the easy gait of a confident worker, not that of a speed walker.

Raise good conversations, not your arms

A sense of fear is present when people raise their arms above their heads while sitting and talking to another who is standing above them. It’s a primal thing that some mammals do to physically protect themselves when they feel threatened. Place your arms at your desk or comfortably on your lap when you have these conversations. You can also stand so that you’re at the same eye level as your coworker, or you can ask your coworker to have a seat.

Eye contact doesn’t have to be scary

Making subtle eye contact is professional. On the other hand, someone who stares at you intensely is likely trying to manipulate you, is attracted to you, or is just plain weird. When having a professional discussion with another, try looking into only one eye for a couple of seconds before glancing elsewhere. Intentionally avoiding eye contact is just as uncomfortable as too much. Strike a healthy balance when talking to peers or bosses.

Stop eating at your desk

Sometimes this is unavoidable with all the “trendy” open-office spaces that no one really likes. Most people either eat too loudly without considering the proximity of others’ desks or try too hard to be quite and make it worse by prolonging the process. The first half may be subconsciously trying to stake claim or mark their spots, while the latter is slurping up a whole lot of insecurity. It is healthier for you to get up and enjoy your meal away from where you perform your work. You’ll eat less and annoy fewer coworkers. It’s a win-win.

Um, did I forget that, um, one thing, like we used to do?

I include these vocal disturbances as “non-verbal” because they are unnecessary and dormant parts of speech that should be avoided. Vocal fillers happen and can sometimes sound natural if not abused while talking. But if you are like trying to fill like the space between, um, like the words, you’re like, um, talking about, it’s annoying, useless and sounds like you don’t really know what you are talking about. It is better to pause and have silence between your words while preparing the next thing to say than sound unprofessional with cluttered communication. Or better yet, always go to meetings prepared with at least a trial run of what you’re going to say in your head before you say it.

There are numerous other non-verbal communication cues that help determine what your co-workers and superiors really think of you. But this is a great start at looking more professional and getting ahead faster.