Much of good business is about looking the part. How you look and act can sometimes be more important than what you say. Why? People tend to want to do business with people they can trust and respect, and much of their impressions of people come from their body language. Are you confident? Nervous? Uninterested? Understanding your body language and how it is reflected in the business world goes a long way towards helping you master business etiquette, and gain people's trust.
How you carry and present yourself is something most people look at from the moment you walk in the door. Standing with confidence is the best way to instill that you know what you’re doing unto others. In order to ensure good posture there are a number of things to keep in mind –
- Stomach in
- Chest out
- Shoulders back
- Head up
If you are somebody that tends to slouch then people might not take you as seriously, or interpret that as insecurity. If you need help in order to get your posture to where it needs to be, there are stretches and exercises that you can do to help your body realign itself.
Try and get comfortable when you sit down, but be sure to remain alert and focused. The best way to sit is completely upright with your legs right in front of you with not a lot of movement if any. If you do decide to cross your legs, then either cross them at the knee or ankle. Nevertheless, make sure that you are not jiggling your legs when you are sitting because this could give off the impression that you are nervous or anxious about something. You don’t have to be stagnant, but sitting upright and alert will show whomever you are with that you are fully invested in the conversation and are ready to work.
People tend to use their hands in extremely different ways when talking. Some make sweeping gestures to accentuate their points while others leave them harmlessly at their sides or put them in their pockets. The use of hands can be good if used effectively, but make sure not to overdo it. After all, you don’t want to create a distraction when trying to talk business with a colleague or potential client. If you must, sit on your hands until you can effectively monitor your hand movements.
Your eyes tell a lot about you in any given conversation. Are you fully invested in the conversation? Do you speak with sincerity? Or are you more interested with the tree outside the window? When engaged in a conversation, it’s important to maintain solid eye contact for much of the time. You don’t necessarily have to stare down the person or people you are conversing with, but looking them in the eyes will show them that you are present in the conversation and hearing everything they have to say. If you are talking with more than one person, make sure not to just lock onto one person; however, treat everyone as equals with your eye contact time.
People tend to judge others greatly on their handshake. In general you want your handshake to be strong and firm, displaying confidence to others. There’s no need to overdo it and try and crush the hand of the other person, but shaking with a “dead fish” will show that perhaps you are not the most confident person in the world. It’s also important to maintain solid eye contact during handshakes, and consider cracking a smile to show that you are pleased to meet them or perhaps see them again.