This post begins with a statistic which everyone is has likely heard: Communication is 20 percent verbal and 80 percent non-verbal. Therefore, in the workplace, employee body language is a very important concept to master or at least be cognizant of.
Employee body language can emphasize your verbal message, contradict your verbal message, or make a statement even when you are silent.
There is positive and negative body language. Today, we look at negative body language.
Five Examples of Negative Employee Body Language
By negative body language, we mean language that projects disrespect, impatience, frustration, and boredom.
Contradicting the Verbal and Non-verbal Messages of Body Language
The meeting is over. Everyone had the chance to voice their opinion. The manager makes a decision right away, after which she allows each person at the table one last thought before the teams disperses.
When it’s co-worker Mike’s turn to talk, he says “I think this is a great idea, and I think it will move us forward.” Mike says this as he is chewing the inside of his lip. All attendees notice. Based on his non-verbal cues, it is obvious Mike does not think this is a great idea. And he may be labeled as someone who employs passive aggression.
Unbalanced Level of Eye Contact
Eye contact must be balanced. There can be too much of it or not enough. Either way, eye contact sends a message.
Too much eye contact? Think of it this way, Kathy is interviewing a potential employee. As the interviewee is speaking, Kathy never removes her eyes from the interviewee’s face. This action comes across as intimidating, rude, and domineering.
Too little eye contact? Think of the same circumstance, but now Kathy makes no eye contact at all. The subtle message to the interviewee? Kathy is uninterested, impatient, and can’t wait to finish the interview.
There is a reason your parents told you to sit up straight. Conscious or not, they were instilling you with a sense of respect. Slouching is disrespectful. It tells everyone around you that you’re not going to bother expending the energy it takes to sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and listen to the speaker. Slouching indicates to those trying to engage with you that they’re not worth the effort.
Placing a Barrier In Between Yourself and Another
A barrier can be an open computer, a stack of notebooks, or the like. This act subconsciously informs others you are not fully open and present. In a way, you are barricading yourself from involvement. It may be an indication of shyness, but it could also indicate a buffer between you and your colleague or her message.
Looking at Your Watch or the Clock
Have you ever given a presentation? If so, there are many things that can rub the presenter the wrong way (yawns, attendees checking phones), but a less glaring example, is watching the clock. This practice says you have better things to do and can’t wait to flee.
Implications of Poor Employee Body Language
Whether you mean to send a non-verbal message or not, body language can indicate the true feelings of a co-worker. If you do not mean to send a negative message, be warned, misinterpretation of your true feelings will occur. If you do mean to send negative messages via body language, or even couple it with verbal language that represents a poor work attitude, it might be time to think about finding another job, before someone decides to show you the door.