No matter how impressive your words, or glowing your credentials, you could be sabotaging yourself unintentionally with negative body gestures. A big part of how we communicate with others is through body language. When your mouth says one thing but your movements send an unspoken, contradictory message, it can seriously hinder your credibility and affect business relationships.
Here are some of the most common body language blunders along with tips for making sure your body and your mouth are speaking the same language:
Limp handshakes. The initial business exchange involves your right hand. A lifeless, weak grip signals disinterest or insecurity, not to mention a seemingly unpleasant experience for the person on the other end of the greeting. A professional handshake should feel assertive and firm, with a light squeeze to the recipient, accompanied by direct eye contact and a smile.
Facing away. When you are actively engaged in a discussion with someone, your entire body should face them. If you are turned away, you are implying "I'm trying to escape." Although your words may say "Hello," your message is contrary. A simple method to check for proper placement is to point your feet and torso in the direction of the person with whom you are conversing.
Building a barrier. Crossing your arms may be used as a form of comfort when your arms are securely relaxed over your torso. However, when your fists are clenched, and your face is tense, you appear angry, disagreeable or uncomfortable with the conversation. To keep confusion at bay, uncross your arms as it reinforces your willingness to hear input from others.
Wandering eyes. If you are speaking with someone but your eyes are on your phone, the clock, or the person standing behind them, it's clear your mind is elsewhere. Even if you are doing a quick scan of the room, it can feel insulting. Offer focused, direct eye contact to reinforce that you are completely involved in the conversation.
Slumping shoulders. Your mother was right -- you look your best when you stand up straight and tall. Someone who is slouching or leaning on a table or desk says, "I hope this conversation will end soon" and emits a sense of disengagement from what's happening. Certainly not the best image to project when you are speaking with a client or boss. Standing tall, chin up, shoulders square and diaphragm out exudes confidence and competence.
Playing with your hair or jewelry. Fidgeting with your tresses or twirling your accessories undermines your message. Make it a point to break this distracting habit.
Cranky resting face. Some people's default facial expression is a menacing scowl. An unfriendly countenance can make a lasting impression, even when viewed by someone across the room. If you notice that coworkers tend to shy away, or frequently ask you what is wrong, consult a trusted colleague for an honest opinion. Anyone can benefit from intentionally relaxing their eyebrows and jawline and adopting a softer, gentler expression.
Your body language is always sending a message. Make sure it's telling the story you want others to "hear".
You may also find Diane's Interview Tips: The Hands Have It helpful. Visit her blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.