Does the way we sit and shake hands speak to the type of person we are? Absolutely!
Here at Flood Marketing, we understand the importance of being in tune to our individual body language. Whether it’s a meeting with a potential client or coffee with our best friend. The way we sit, stare, and touch can all have an effect on the outcome of the conversation.
In regards to touch, think nothing below the elbow. Need to nudge a team member during a staff meeting? Don’t go above that elbow to make sure your intentions aren’t misread. Also below the elbow, handshakes take place. A firm handshake with eye contact is your best bet for making a good first impression in the business world. Too flimsy or too firm, can create an awkwardness between you and the other person and chances are that handshake will be all they can think about during your conversation. Have confidence when you reach out to introduce yourself!
Not everyone is a hugger. Do you find yourself hugging everyone in the office Monday morning? Because, hey, it’s Monday! Steer clear of this habit. Hugging should be reserved for times of celebration, family, and friends. Your co-workers on a Monday morning, may not be feeling chipper or friendly enough for a squeeze. What about after a successful meeting with a partner or client? You’ve just signed a major deal that is certainly worth celebrating and you really want to give them a hug. The experts recommend not doing so. A hug, while it comes wrapped in good intentions, can be a dangerous deal breaker if misread. Occasionally you will have one of those half-handshake-half-hug interactions where you are shaking hands from the side and the other person’s arm extends to your upper back. If a client makes the move go with it, but if making the move remember that not everyone cares for the added pat on the back.
Eye contact is incredibly important when speaking to anyone! If seated to the side of the person you are talking to, make sure that your body is slightly turned in their direction and lock eyes with them every now and then to show you are listening. When listening to a presenter across from you, keep your eyes on them at all times. This shows you are engaged, processing the information, and listening with intent. Like a hug or a handshake, it is possible to have too much of a good thing with eye contact. It’s ok to look down at your notes or glance at how others in the room are responding occasionally. However, glancing at your phone, watch, or clock, shows complete disinterest. So move those eyes wisely!
Sitting and bodily movement are other key aspects to proving to others you are on track and focused. Slouching is an immediate sign of lack of concern for the speaker. It’s true that you need to be comfortable to be fully focused but find a professional position to sit that still shows you care. Putting your head in your hands, your head to the desk, or leaning too far away from the table makes the other person wonder where your mind is running off to.
Are you the one speaking? Or are your hands doing it for you? Too much hand movement can distract an audience. On the flipside to this, if you’re too stiff, it can put your listeners to sleep. Keep your gestures somewhat small, or if you’re needing to really drive a point home make sure the moments you go a bit big are kept to a minimum.
There are countless rules for body language, and of course, none of us are perfect. But it is important to note of how we sit, look, and shake hands with our colleagues, partners, and clients so that we represent our company and our individual selves in the best way possible. Pay attention and sit up straight – like your mama told ya!