Body Language Details

Getting Ahead in Business- 10 Body Language Tips

Posted by Liz Taylor Feb 26, 2013

Do you sometimes feel that people read you incorrectly? Body Language plays a vital role in business and it’s important you’re aware of the details. Small changes in your body language can radically change your job performance and career. Read the following ten tips to make sure you make the right impression:

1. Have strong posture. As common sense as this sounds, your posture truly gives clues about your level of confidence and composure.  It’s important to sit or stand up straight and imagine a string tied from the top of your head to the ceiling. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back too.

2. Avoid pointing and hand talking. People who visibly express their emotions with hand gestures can quickly overwhelm others. In situations where you want to maximize your authority, minimize your movements and keep gestures about waist high. When you appear calm and contained, you look more powerful.  

3. Don’t use distracting gestures. This includes: picking lint off your clothing, checking the time, inspecting your fingernails, playing with your jewelry or twirling your hair. Small movements parlay nervousness, insecurity, boredom and uneasy feelings.

4. Stop resting hands behind your head or placing on the hips. This is mistaken as a sign of superiority and bigheadedness. Only use these gestures if you are with close friends.

5. Refrain from crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets. If you put your hands in your pockets or cross them in front of your chest, you’ll be viewed as closed off. The best way to use your hands is to simply appear open. Your hands should be in front of you as you naturally gesture.

6. Steer clear of too much head tilting and nodding. Only use head tilts and nodding when you want to show concern, interest or want to encourage people to expand on what they are saying. When you want project power and authority, keep your head straight, still and in a more neutral position.

7. Use a firm handshake. People with a weak handshake are judged to be passive and less confident. To effectively give a proper handshake, face the other person directly, extend your arm and make sure you have palm-to-palm contact with the other person. Use the “v” between your forefinger and thumb to go directly into the web of the others person’s. Look your partner in the eyes, smile, pump your hands two or three times and release.

8. Avert from holding objects in front of your body. Examples can include a notebook, coffee cup, handbag, etc.  Holding objects in front of your body indicates shyness and resistance, such that you’re hiding behind the objects in an effort to separate yourself from others.  Instead of carrying objects in front of you, carry them at your side whenever possible.

9. Respect distance. Standing too close makes people feel uncomfortable. Most people consider the four square feet of space immediately surrounding their body to be personal. If someone takes a step away from you while you are involved in a conversation, take it as a hint that you are standing way too close.

10. This is an uncomfortable one for me to tell you, but do not stand with your hands covering your genital area. This posture almost guarantees that you’ll lose respect before you even speak a word. This is a sign of a person who is nervous and unsure of themselves. This stance pushes your shoulders forward and makes your entire body look smaller and weaker. Keep your hands at your sides.


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“How refreshing and timely. From the texting generation to the baby boomers—the art of etiquette is sadly disappearing. Whether you just need a touch-up or a full immersion, Liz, is the person to teach you the skills to appear confident, elegant and professional in any business situation. Her energetic and engaging style will make this one of the most enjoyable seminars you have ever taken! Liz is awesome!”

—Chuck Bokar, Principal, Design Resource Center

“Absolutely superb! Liz has an amazing knack for presenting her concepts in a thought-provoking and clear style. Her ideas and suggestions would enhance anyone's ability to bridge the gap between business and etiquette. She clearly has a deep understanding of not only the topic, but the thought processes that go into creating better interpersonal relationships out of socially awkward situations. I highly recommend her and her coursework...she will help your business!”

—Brad Guck, District Manager, Administaff

“Liz, Thank you so much for coming to Indianapolis to help us grow our skills as professionals and as people. Your presentation helped us address issues with grace, candor, sensitivity – as well as fun! You were fabulous!”

—Betsy Hamlett, Director of Sales for Kenra, Ltd.

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