Rishika could never understand why her colleagues avoided her. Her boss would appreciate her work, but she was not really included in the office banter he would do with other colleagues. She couldn’t figure out why the new-joiner Preeti effortlessly mingled with the group and the boss. Rishika, among her friends was very popular and also enterprising. What she couldn’t understand was that professionally while she could eloquently speak about what she wanted, her body language at the same time was portraying something else.
The way you stand, your eye-contact, smile along with verbal communications are things essential for the employees to consider in order to be productive in an organisation. This New Year make sure how you sit and work, give your boss and your colleagues a positive clue about the way you work. Non-verbal communications are as important as verbal ones. And these are often ignored because not much importance is attached to it – especially by the employees. When we talk, we forget that our subconscious mind is giving signals to our body and face as well. How we manage those signals is the key to our professional and personal life’s success.
David Lambert in his book ‘Body Language 101: The Ultimate Guide to Knowing When People are Lying, How They are Feeling, What They Are Thinking, and More’ writes that “body language has three broad usages : as a conscious replacement of speech, to reinforce speech, and as a mirror or betrayer of mood”. He also talks about how Charles Darwin scientific study is the first one in the understanding of non-verbal communication – The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).
Let’s explore 4 non-verbal acts which can help you progress not just career-wise, but also in life in general.
- Posture: Having a confident and positive posture – upright shoulders instead of slouching, necessary to see that while making a point one is not crossing his/her hands across the chest which has a negative connotation – nervous, insecure, defensive, not open to others’ views. While you are not consciously doing it, but colleagues see these as blocks. While walking, it is necessary for the employees to take strides confidently instead of dragging his/her feet on the floor making noise.
- Eye contact: A lot of people, employed or otherwise don’t look into the eyes of the people they are talking to. Imagine, somebody you are engaging in a conversation with, and they are looking not at you but at something else or even someone else. This will instantly make you feel unwanted, the person is not concerned with what you are talking about, insensitive, and also disinterested in the work that he or she does. Having a constant eye-contact is a must for a stimulating discussion, which will have an impact on employee engagement with higher productivity as workers listen and are concentrated more in the work that they do. Sometimes no eye-contact also mean lying to the person s/he is talking to.
- Smiling: This positive curve on your face will not only help you dealing with the stressed situation, but also spreads the positive vibe around. And smiling is contagious, just like yawning. Employees who are cheerful about their work often gets their job done faster than others who are stressed and grumpy. Anger breeds disharmony, and that leads to unproductivity. At work, it is not really possible to keep a cheerful face while attempting to solve some hard problems or even trying to close deals. But in the subconscious mind, if you have a smiling attitude, it helps in dealing with a difficult situation.
- Fillers: Essentially are words what you use when conversing, for e.g. repeating the word ‘like’ in every sentence, using ‘umm’ while talking, or even regular use of ‘absolutely’, ‘definitely’ when those are not required ; also fillers can be non-verbal, for e.g. playing with hair, pen, any other object while talking. These kind of communication portrays detachment and dispassionate about work. Working on clear communications, concentrating on things that you are saying will enhance productivity.
Rishika understood the power of non-verbal cues. Within a couple of months, she saw how her colleagues started noticing the changes. They started including her in their after-office chats, and she could dispel the myth about her being snooty, unapproachable, and arrogant. And seeing this positive sign, she has resolved to remain positive through her body language this New Year.