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8 Body Language Mistakes Successful People Never Make

8 Body Language Mistakes Successful People Never Make

Body language is a breeze to figure out. Right? If someone is crossing their arms, they are probably closed off to the conversation and have no interest in continuing to talk. If someone is leaning in close to you while sitting beside you, they probably have romantic interest in you. While how to understand body language has been a topic of interest for eons, you may still be making assumptions when it comes to reading people. And those mistakes could be standing in the way of your success.

Successful People Know How Body Language Can Affect Their Success So They Never Make These 8 Mistakes

Depending on the study, non-verbal communication (i.e. body language) counts between 75% and 90% of our communication. That’s a huge percentage. So even if you think you know the basics, you could be making non-verbal mistakes on a daily basis that are detrimental to your career success.[1]

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1. Close-talking/space-evading

When you have a professional conversation with a coworker or boss, how close are you to them, physically? If you put your hand out in front of you, would you touch them? If so, you’re standing too close. That would mean you’re probably about .0 to 18 inches apart, and that should only be used for an intimate relationship in which it would be normal to embrace, touch and even whisper. So when speaking to a coworker, keep 4 to 12 feet in between you.[2]

2. Inappropriate Eye Contact

Eye contact is so important, but getting it right can be challenging. In the US, the appropriate amount of eye contact comes in at about 60%. So, if you’re listening to someone talk, you’re looking into their eyes 60% of the time and looking away (at your notes or a presentation) the rest of the time. Anything more than that is intimidating, so unless you’re in law enforcement, stick to 60%.

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But where you look matters. If you’re boring holes into the other person’s pupils, that can be a bit much. Proper eye contact at work is made in the upside down triangular area on someone’s face (eyebrow to eyebrow to the nose and back to the eyebrows).

3. Handshakes without the upper hand

While I am a strong believer in a firm handshake, there are still right and wrong ways to do it. Have you ever been introduced to someone, either personally or professionally, who shook hands with you by sandwiching your hand between both of theirs? It’s awkward, and they literally have the upper hand. So if you do this, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re sending a message to that person that you have the upper hand.

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4. Too-obvious mirroring

We have always been drawn to people who resemble us, either in physically appearance or lifestyle. If you’re hoping to gain acceptance from someone like a potential boss, you can mirror their body language, posture or tone of voice to subtly create rapport. But like eye contact, this trick requires some knowledge. If you are too obvious about what you’re doing, it comes off phony and pretty bizarre. A good rule of thumb is to create about a three second delay before you start mirroring the other person.

5. Leaning back/Slouching

I used to work with someone who constantly slouched back in their chair and occasionally seemed ready to melt into the floor below them. It was an interesting choice, since it basically announced to the world, “I don’t care about what I’m doing here. I have no interest in my work!” While it’s also pretty awful for your spine, leaning back in your chair, especially when speaking to someone, comes off as dismissive and distracted.

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Slouching is just as bad. You look weak and tired/lazy. Sit with your back and shoulders straight. You’ll look better and more capable, and you’ll also feel better! [3]

6. Exaggerated Gestures

I talk with my hands. What about you? Being an animated talker is part of what keeps people interested in what I have to say, but there’s a fine line between being animated and being over-the-top. When you gesture dramatically and get carried away, you come off obnoxious and semi-arrogant. If you aren’t sure if you’re coming off as passionate or annoying, tell your friend to record you the next time you meet for coffee. If watching it makes you cringe, you should probably work on toning it down.

7. Arm Crossing

Even though this is one of the most commonly discussed body language actions, it’s important to stay aware of it. Sometimes I cross my arms because I start thinking about the top I’m wearing and if I look bad. Other times, I do it because the office is absolutely freezing and I’m trying to keep warm. While we don’t always cross our arms because we are defensive or closed off, that’s still how it comes across. Practice letting your arms stay by your sides, or even stick one of your hands in your back pocket while listening to someone. The more opened your shoulders are, the more interested and inviting you seem.[4]

8. Fidgeting

Fidgeting (playing with your hair, tapping your foot or pens, adjusting and readjusting your clothes) is irritating to those around you, but it also makes you look unprepared and anxious. I get really distracted really easily, so when I’m in meetings, I take copious notes or even doodle subtly while I listen. It helps me feel like I’m not just sitting there being still while still focusing my attention properly.

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Published on April 25, 2019

How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

Creativity.

What is Creativity?

When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

Limitations are Actually Opportunities

The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

Let me illustrate with an example.

On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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“But daddy, is it important?”

“No, of course not,” I bluffed.

Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

Creativity is One Key to Success

When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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