The Importance of Business Body Language

Most of us go about our daily business, and conduct a number of both business and personal conversations without giving much thought to what the body language we use is saying to other people. In business though it really is as much about the way you say something as the actual words you use.

But what does the way you conduct yourself and your conversations say about you, and what might others be thinking?

Eye contact is of course very important. Maintaining eye contact with another person during a conversation is of course the best way to convey that you are truly interested in what they have to say. But there is a fine line between eye contact and out and out staring, which is discomforting to most people. However, beware of those who speak to you without making eye contact at all, as that is often a good indicator that someone is being less than honest with you.

Holding your head up straight while delivering a speech or presentation conveys the right air of authority. However, tilting one’s head to the side occasionally while listening to someone else speak conveys that you are truly interested in what they are saying.

Your hands and arms say a lot in conversation too. Folded arms indicate defensiveness, and can be very off putting to the other parties involved in the conversation, as can having your hands shoved into your pockets. Excessive hand gestures can also detract from your message, so the best place for your hands, during a business conversation at least, is at your side.

When it comes to posture what you learned to do in grade school, sit or stand up straight and tall, applies in the business world too. Slouching indicates a lethargic, disinterested person, who no one will want to do business with.

Watch where you place your legs when seated at a business meeting too. You can often tell if a person is nervous because their legs move about endlessly, which can be off-putting too all at the table. For women, crossing the legs can send out a rather unprofessional signal so if you must do it, cross them at the ankle, not the knee. Guys should avoid the “figure four” resting one leg or ankle on top of the other knee. This is taken by others as a sign of cockiness that can put the observer off you before you ever open your mouth to speak.