7 Ways Your Body Language Is Hurting Your Career


Body language is a type of non-verbal communication where physical behavior conveys an obscure message. These movements may involve the arms, hands, arms, feet, eyes and legs. They can be spontaneous or unintentional. The study originally came from Charles Darwin in 1872, as he was the first man to study the body language of humans and animals in his book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. It wasn't until the 1960's when body language began to be seriously looked at in the fields of business, social science and psychology. Body language is a powerful means of communication and many don't realize how it can impede progress in relationships, in life and in your profession. You are probably sending people the wrong messages, so pay attention to the following 7 ways that your body language is hurting your career.

Having a poker face.

Having a poker face is great in a game of cards or being on the witness stand, but this void of emotion looks like you don't give a rip. People don't want to work with someone who looks like they have an attitude problem and don't have a lick of warmness. Tina Gilbertson, LPC, DCC, offered insight regarding the vacant look. “At work, the rewards go to those who not only perform, but who can connect with others on a human level,” Gilbertson said. “We connect through emotions, so go ahead and show a little -- especially enthusiasm, gratitude and appreciation.” Soften your face and relax a little more.
You might find that a smile can really help your cause.


Ever wonder why you're getting those monotonous work projects? If you're a slumper, it can really keep things stagnant in your career. This is conveyed you are bored and have no interest in what is going on. This can also be seen as you losing your passion. Ergonomic specialist and body language expert, Judi James, unveiled that posture in the workplace makes an impact. “This often marks them out as an inspirational leader as that energy is contagious, meaning people who work for them and around them will be motivated and inspired by it.” Slumping in your chair at work expresses that you are not energetic and may be lethargic about the office, your boss and your colleagues. Look alert and sit up straight.

Crossing your arms.

When a kid crosses their arms it signifies one thing and this is they are not interested in talking or that they are exhibiting anxiety. This is the same thing when an adult does it. By crossing the arms you are in a sense trying to protect the body because you feel unprotected or because you are being insubordinate. This can also mean that you're stressed out. Pay attention when the boss calls a meeting and watch people in the room, it might give you some more insight on their position. This body language is also considered the bully pose. "As with many primate behaviors that make us look larger, this does communicate that there are issues here and I am big enough to handle them," Psychology Today reported. When a person is in this position, it does not convey a position of strength, but negativity.


Shaking your foot or tapping a pen on the table means a few things. Fidgeting could mean that you want to get out the door. It shows that you get impatient and could be ready for a fight. People who do this don't feel comfortable with the conversation or where they are at the time. This is not something that needs to be translated to management.

No eye contact.

When you don't look someone in the eyes, it means a lack of respect or deceit. “Studies suggest that holding eye contact while speaking has an enormous impact on your ability to persuade. Lack of eye contact often implies deception,” Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language said. They also may be shielding themselves from the embarrassment or they're not prepared for the meeting. Practice maintaining eye contact with people at home and with your friends to help create better habits.

Eye rolling.

Eye rolling is a sign of frustration, exhaustion or anger. This may signal to the listener that you don't care, or you don't want to listen to their opinions and that you are annoyed. Rolling the eyes is death to any career or advancement.

A bad handshake.

No one wants to shake hands with someone whose hands feels like jelly. Your handshake should be firm to show strength and confidence. A weak handshake may mean the person is shy. "A handshake is as much a part of personality as the way we walk," Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette shared. Wishy-washy handshakes never bode well in business and certainly not in your career. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you crush someone's hand, it appears you're overcompensating for something. If you do a lingering handshake, you may appear too desperate.

When you pay attention to your body language more, you're giving colleagues and management the idea that you are reliable, warm, fun, confident, driven and equipped to handle the job. Overall, this will help your career moving forward.
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