Business English- The importance of body language in the workplace- The Do’s and the Don’ts’s

Business English- The importance of body language in the workplace- The Do’s and the Don’ts’s

Our today’s blog in the online business English series is about body language in the workplace. Body language is a type of nonverbal communication in which physical behaviors, as opposed to words, are used to express or convey the information. Such behavior includes facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space. Although body language is an important part of communication, most of it happens without conscious awareness.

Learners usually miss the practical- in person examples of gestures, facial expressions and similar nonverbal cues when they enroll lessons to learn English online. Though we have video lessons available today, consistent observation and practice is what will enable you to pick nuances in body gestures or unique characteristic to individuals when you interact with them.

As an online English speaking course in India, following are our top recommendations

Body Language in the work place- Examples and tips

Smile confidently – “A warm, pleasant smile is the best ice-breaker.”

Smiling has always been a great ice-breaker. A warm, encouraging smile helps strangers ease up and strike a conversation without much fuss or hesitation. The same applies to you in the work place. Who is the best co-worker for you? Is this person kind and helpful? How many times has this person flashed you a warm smile?

Correct ways –

  • A firm smile, genuine and not very forced.
  • A smile sensitive to the situation/environment

Benefits –

  • A smile connects faster than any other gesture.
  • A great ice-breaker, makes it easy to navigate through difficult situations.

Eye contact – “When we look into the eyes, we discover the person inside.”

Have you noticed kids staring down at the floor or their feet hen they are embarrassed or confused or shy? And their eyes wide and brimmed with excitement when they talk to a familiar attendant or on a topic that interests them? Yes, the confidence and warmth are all reflected in the eyes. In the work place, its absolutely necessary to establish a connection through good eye contact.

Correct ways –

  • Maintain eye-contact for 3 to 5 seconds only.
  • Adapt to switch from one person to another and maintain the same duration of the gaze.
  • Make sure you contacted every person in the meeting and you had eye-contact with each person.

Benefits –

  • Helps to connect with the audience.
  • Work as an effective tool to win the trust of the audience.
  • Reflects your confidence and involvement in the matter or topic of discussion.

Hand movements – “Move them just enough and you come across as wise, else a clumsy clown!”

As an online English tutor, this is simplest yet the toughest body gesture that requires training. Hand gestures are subconscious gestures that come naturally to us. Most of the times, the issue is with overusing hand movements in conversations.

Correct ways –

  • Hand movements should come naturally while speaking.
  • Stiff hand shows a lack of connectivity with one’s speech or being too nervous
  • While involving hands during speaking make sure to keep them close to your body and not too much away. The movement should not be very loud or frantic.

Benefits –

  • Open hand movements prove you are expressive and open to talk.
  • Hand movements are imperative during speaking to hide the nervousness of public speaking.
  • Hands are considered to be the vocal cords of the body and can do the speaking for your attitude and interest in the conversation.

A handshake – “When I offer my hand, I welcome you in my world.”

Since it is regarded as one of the essential non-verbal communications, you need to make sure you the correct way to a great hand shake. A formal way of greeting in most offices, it signifies respect and is also a welcoming gesture. In covid times, the Indian “Namaste” is much more into use. Pro tip, in most Asian cultures- you can offer or initiate a handshake with the same gender, however, if you meet a person from a different gender then let the person initiate it first.

Correct ways –

  • Hand shake should last for 2-4 seconds.
  • Hand shake has to be firm and light in grip.
  • Make sure to match the level of the other person. Do stand-up if you are sitting to reciprocate respect and gratitude.

Benefits –

  • Convey confidence and trust to another person.
  • Connects you with people faster.
  • Proves your self-reliance and conviction in your approach.

Sitting and Standing posture – “Put your best foot forward as there is no space for awkwardness.”

Without contacting and just by sitting and standing one builds its reputation in the eyes of the people. We already communicate quite enough while sitting and standing, the verbal communication comes later.

Correct ways –

  • The right approach is standing face to face with the person, standing sideways reflects that you are too busy or in a hurry.
  • Do not put your hands in the pocket while having a talk. Though common, it is regarded as disrespectful.
  • Sit upright with a straight back and forward-looking. The feet should be flat and touching the ground and legs must be parallel to each other.

Benefits –

  • Most of the communication starts way ahead of talking so the right posture would facilitate a great opening dialogue.
  • Correct postures are good for your health, reflects your interest and confidence.

Range of Distance while meeting people – “Good distance brings people closer.”

Social distance is a very crucial aspect of public dealing, even more so in the covid pandemic. When we are meeting people or interacting, we need to maintain a certain distance. Proximity surely plays an influential role, but too close can make people uncomfortable while too far can make all awkward.

Correct ways –

  • Ideally it should be least 4 feet and it can extend till 12 feet.
  • Distance should be enough to give proper space to address and interact.
  • Standing in front and at least a distance of a hand to be least is perfect to approach people and build relations.

Benefits –

  • If you are getting too close to people coming around you surely, you are going to make them uncomfortable.

And a few quick concluding tips – “Positive body language keeps getting the upgrades.”

  1. Observe and reciprocate the body language and behaviour of the person with whom you are interacting.
  2. Notice the tone and pitch of your voice and sound.
  3. Keep a track of gestures maintained in different cultures.

Now that we have covered the “must do’s”, let us now learn what one must avoid doing in the work place.

The Don’ts of Body Language in the work place:

This is a beginner guide and more of an etiquette rule followed across places of social interaction.

  1. Do not slouch, sit or sway in forward motions along with lounging your hands and legs anywhere anytime.
  2. Stay away from touching your face or hair constantly.
  3. Avoid biting your nails, either out of habit or nervousness.
  4. Refrain from yawning while sitting or attending a meeting or assembly.
  5. Refrain from staring at the floor or at your feet especially when someone is speaking.
  6. Do not look or sound in a hurry.
  7. Do not talk in a speedy and fast way without bothering about the listeners.
  8. Do not keep staring at one person continuously.
  9. Always wear office appropriate attire.
  10. Keep a check on your emotions in the workplace. No matter how you feel, act and reflect professionalism in everything you do.

Related Article- English communication skills for success in the workplace


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