Get All Access for $5/mo

4 Body Language Mistakes You Didn't Realize You're Making at Work — And How to Fix Them Many unconscious gestures negatively affect your professional life. These four mistakes are easy to do — and easy to fix.

By Don Weber Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Lack of direct eye contact: Breaking eye contact is a universal signal of dishonesty or deception.
  • 2. Poor posture: Your posture expresses your attention and enthusiasm.
  • Read more for more body language mistakes.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While it's widely understood that effective communication goes beyond words and encompasses the nuances of body language, not everyone is constantly aware of the subconscious gestures they display at work.

In reality, there might be surprising and unconscious gestures affecting your professional interactions. These non-verbal cues can convey disinterest, stress or even erode confidence. Identifying and addressing these subconscious actions can improve workplace relationships, build trust and positively shape your overall professional image.

Related: Body Language Is Powerful — Make Any of These 4 Mistakes, and You're Silently Sabotaging Your Interactions

1. Lack of direct eye contact

The importance of eye contact is frequently discussed. However, the lack of eye contact is just as impactful. In U.S. culture, the inability to maintain eye contact can be interpreted in several negative ways. For example, some individuals interpret a lack of eye contact as disrespect. Breaking eye contact has also been a universal signal of dishonesty or deception.

Finally, a noticeable lack of direct eye contact often signals distraction. When you appear distracted in a meeting or conversation, your conversation partner or colleagues have every reason to assume you are disinterested. Since nobody likes to feel unimportant or unheard, your lack of eye contact or distraction can quickly result in a lack of trust or safety.

To maintain positive relationships in your workplace, concentrate on eye contact. Consistently looking someone in the eyes, even just for a quick moment, can help your team members feel valued and heard.

Related: How to Detect a Liar in Seconds Using Nonverbal Communication

2. Poor posture

How you carry yourself reflects how you feel about yourself. Posture can also demonstrate your enthusiasm, vitality and energy levels.

For example, poor posture often turns us inward. This can be off-putting to those who are trying to get to know you or open up. Additionally, slumped shoulders or limp movements can signify a lack of confidence and prevent you from gaining the trust of your leaders and managers.

On the other hand, strong and open body posturing can demonstrate high self-esteem, flattering self-confidence and a passion for life. This will make you more approachable in your workspace which can impact your career advancement and relationships.

To refine your posture, integrate mirror exercises into your routine. Practice powerful poses like the "superwoman" stance or any other stance that evokes confidence.

These exercises reinforce a sense of empowerment and help train your body to naturally exhibit positive posture. Consistent effort in maintaining good posture and these targeted practices will contribute to a more confident and impactful professional presence.

Related: How to Cultivate Confidence as a Leader

3. Tense facial expressions

While having a friend with a comically tense or frustrated resting face may be amusing in casual settings, the workplace demands a different level of consideration.

Tense facial expressions not only transmit stress but can also create an uncomfortable atmosphere for colleagues. In a professional context, it's crucial to be aware of how your facial expressions may impact those around you.

For example, anger, even if unintentional, can be particularly detrimental. Team members need to perceive you as a safe and approachable individual, making it vital to manage and minimize expressions that may be off-putting.

I have personally noticed that my tense or angered facial expressions naturally appear if I'm in intense environments. It will also occur if I am around people who cause me stress. When I am in these scenarios like these, I am always extra careful to be extra aware of my expressions.

Taking intentional deep breaths can also be valuable in mitigating facial tension. By consciously relaxing the facial muscles, you alleviate stress signals and create a more welcoming and positive environment.

Related: How to Tell If Someone Is Manipulating You Based on Their Body Language

4. Fidgeting

Fidgeting is another body language cue that may send negative messages to your team and co-workers. This subconscious action may convey boredom or apathy. This is certainly not the attitude you want to communicate in a work meeting or conversation with an important team member.

In general, fidgeting is a way individuals release excess energy, which oftentimes is stimulated by stress. As a result, fidgeting may cause your colleagues to wonder why you are feeling anxious. They may come to a multitude of conclusions that are untrue.

Fidgeting can also be viewed as a self-soothing action, especially for children. As a result, fidgeting may unintentionally communicate a lack of competence or self-control.

If you notice yourself fidgeting, remember there is no need to feel self-conscious. Self-consciousness will disempower you. On the other hand, self-awareness is extremely empowering.

Self-awareness of your body language will allow you to actively monitor any unconscious fidgeting behaviors and identify specific triggers or situations that prompt these movements. Understanding the root cause of your fidgeting may help you overcome the subconscious habit.

Related: Why Self-Reflection and Self-Awareness Are Vital Skills for Any Entrepreneur

In addition to self-awareness, try incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Practicing deep-breathing exercises or moments of focused attention will bring your awareness to the present moment. This helps reduce stress and allows you to tune in to your body, making it easier to control fidgeting tendencies.

Lastly, seek feedback from trusted colleagues or friends who can alert you to moments of fidgeting. Outsider perspectives can give you valuable insight into all your non-verbal and subconscious body language.

Don Weber

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Soft Skills and Communication Expert and Coach

Dr. Weber is an expert business communication trainer and uses his extensive background in human behavior, psychology and meditation to help his clients more effectively communicate with their teams, enhance their public speaking skills and improve relationships with prospective clients.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.

Leadership

This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.

Leadership

Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.