After talking to body language expert Sharon Sayler, I realized how much our posture, our chin position, our eye contact, can make a huge difference in whether we're spending our time effectively.
Let's say you're networking. If the person you're talking to has his or her feet pointed to the door, it's likely they want to make an exit. That's a cue for you to move on.
Let's say you're want to negotiate to leave the office a little early to see your kid's championship soccer game. Don't go in with your eyes and chin shifted downward. That's going to make you look weak and timid. Go in from a position of strength, chin parallel to the floor, eyes looking at the mid-forehead, and you're much more likely to get your request.
(proper position of chin is parallel to floor,not tilted upward)
Sitting around the table for the first time with a new client, Jane Snell found herself getting more and more frustrated. Although she owns her Coconut Creek construction company, JS-1 Construction, the half-dozen men seated around the table were addressing their questions and comments to her male assistant. It wasn’t until days later that she discovered where she had gone wrong: her smile.
“The way I was grinning said administrative assistant, not owner,” Snell says.
Our posture, our facial expressions, even the placement of our legs can speak volumes about what we’re conveying in the workplace. We can put in hours networking or working late and then blow our image as confident experts by sending a different message with something as simple as a smile.
Sharon Sayler, body language expert and owner of Competitive Edge Communications, has been educating women and men about the hidden non-verbal statements in business that can ruin a deal, diminish credibility, even create doubt about capability. In workplaces with increasing diversity, age differences and cultural peculiarities, what you’re saying with your eyes, feet and hands could be as game-changing as what comes out of your mouth.
“There are a lot of nuances to what’s being sent unintentionally,” Sayler says. “We need to understand messages we’re sending and be strategic. When you’re not getting the response you want, you need to think about why.”
For example, women are too quick to smile, she says. “Executives rarely smile, so if a male executive sees you smiling like a joker, he will think you must be the assistant.” Instead, she advises being strategic. “When someone introduces himself and says his name, that’s when you smile and say, ‘Happy to meet you.’ ”