It’s easy to think that if you talk to your staff and coworkers professionally, everything will be okay. They’ll take on board your points and action them accordingly without any fuss because it’s a business and that’s what you’re all there to do. However, the way in which you communicate makes a huge difference to how your messages are received. Whilst you can make sure to use the right words (including the good old-fashioned “please” and “thank you”), you also need to use the appropriate tone so that you don’t come across as demanding, ungrateful or unkind.

And then there’s body language. Though smiling and making eye contact are very important, body language is so much more than that. Using forms of body language that are unsuitable or closed off can result in you coming across as aloof, unfriendly or arrogant, even if this is far from the case. To help you avoid negative situations, we’ve popped our top five tips below.

A firm handshake

This is the first place where a lot of people go wrong. By firm, we don’t mean crunch the other person’s hand into little bits. Simply grasp their hand with a solid grip and shake two or three times without dislocating their shoulder, making eye contact and smiling throughout.

Sit up straight

Slouching in your chair can give the appearance of boredom. Instead, sit up straight but remain relaxed, changing position only when required because excessive movement can come across as fidgety.

Smile when delivering difficult news

This one can be hard but goes a long way. You need to use a genuine smile that’s appropriate to the situation, which will then soften the blow and help both you and your audience to adopt a can-do attitude.

Listen with your eyes as well

People want to see that you’re paying attention. You could be listening intently and digesting everything they say, but if you’re looking out of the window or fiddling with a paperclip they’ll assume that you’ve lost interest. To counteract this, maintain casual eye contact and make silent gestures of agreement where applicable, such as nodding your head and smiling. If you have a qualm, save it until after they’ve finished speaking.

Physical engagement

If you’re the one who’s speaking and your audience looks disconnected, snap them back to attention by asking a question. We don’t mean you should quiz them on what you’ve just said, simply ask if they’d like a coffee, what their opinion is on a particular topic or ask for a show of hands. Alternatively, pass them something to look at, such as a flyer or product, as this will engage them more directly.

Want to add something?

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any tips you’d like to add, you're very welcome to share them on our Facebook page and tag us on Twitter.


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