I always heard that if you walk in anywhere with a clipboard and a confident attitude, people won’t question your presence. It’s all in how you carry yourself. A good manager understands the importance of body language long before a word is uttered. Your team will be watching you, from the moment you stride into a room until the clock strikes five. Your actions will always speak louder than your words, so make them count.
What Can I Do?
What is one of the most unprofessional actions when meeting with a colleague for important business? I’m sure we could come up with a list of things, but how about the “limp-fish” handshake. You know the one: their touch is so light you’re afraid to squeeze their hand for fear it might break. A professional handshake is a sign of confidence, both in yourself and in the person, you are meeting with.
Maybe your mom didn’t make you walk with a book on your head, but maybe she should have. Posture is one of the key elements in non-verbal communication. Walk with your head held high and take self-assured strides. When you are speaking with someone, keep your hands out of your pockets as this may convey that you are hiding something. Instead, cross or clasp your hands behind your back. This will encourage your body to straighten up and improve your posture. If this isn’t comfortable for you, try clasping them in front of you. Try to avoid auditioning for the lead role in an Italian mob movie by using your hands as exclamations to everything. That may be great for charades, but not so much when trying to land the deal of the century.
Somebody’s Watching Me…
This next one is, in my opinion, one of the most important: eye contact. There’s a fine line between staring at someone so hard they become uncomfortable and maintaining a respectful connection between the peepers. When addressing your team, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group, be sure they know you are interested in what they are saying. The best way to do this is through eye contact. If this makes you nervous, (it does for many people, even managers), practice in front of a mirror. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. Eyes are eyes and, unless you plan on meeting with a box jellyfish (24 eyes), chances are you’ll only be looking at two – just like in the mirror.
When in meetings, sit up straight, conveying an interest in being there. An additional way of showing interest is to face the person to whom you are speaking. If the seating allows, sit forward and show you are listening. Remember to always smile and look your best. Smiling makes those around you feel at ease, and looking your best makes you come across in a more professional manner.
As a leader in management, body language holds more relevance to your communication than you realize. It continues from the first moment all the way through the last. Mastering the art of non-verbal communication will give you an edge as a manager and it will tell everyone else all they need to know: your actions definitely do speak louder than words.