When you walk into a room full of colleagues, bosses, or clients, you might not say a word in the first few minutes -- but your body language has already spoken volumes about the type of person and worker you might be. Well over half of all communication is projected through body language, though we frequently aren't aware of the language our body is speaking in important situations.
Make sure your body language doesn't have your career speaking in tongues, and learn the physical lingo of a successful worker with the advice below.
1. Shifty eyes that avoid eye contact with others.
What others see and hear: A lack of eye contact hinders your ability to create a connection with the person or persons you're speaking with. This oversight (no pun intended) gives others few reasons to trust you and your ideas. To build bonds and trustworthiness, actively concentrate on looking people in the eye not only when you are speaking but when they start talking as well.
Work that works for you: A career as a telemarketer or in data entry means that you can keep your eyes on your work -- and not on your co-workers -- for most of the time.
2. Arms crossed in front of your body, holding your torso tight.
What others see and hear: Crossed arms make you appear guarded, unapproachable, and on the defense, as though you have something to hide from the people in the room with you. If you're having trouble relaxing your arms, try folding them neatly in your lap instead of across your chest.
Work that works for you: Being on the defensive works wonderfully with a career in insurance, where skepticism is a favorable trait.
3. A broad grin showing all of your pearly whites.
What others see and hear: A smiling face suggests that you are eager, confident and pleasant to work with. However, be careful to not smile too much when talking about serious subjects, as your grin might suggest that you aren't taking the discussion seriously enough.
Work that works for you: If you're naturally a pleasant person, a career in sales is the perfect place for you to use your charm on customers.
4. Fidgeting, tapping, or shaking incessantly.
What others see and hear: If you can't remain still in a meeting or conversation, your constant movements make you look uncomfortable with yourself and others, which can cause a domino effect making other people in the room uncomfortable as well. If your hands shake, try discreetly holding a small object, like a pen. Keep your hands out of your pockets and your legs crossed to avoid other fidgeting and tapping.
Work that works for you: Fidgeting is usually a sign of not having the ability to stand being cooped up in meetings, so try a field like health care or retail that takes you out of an office.
5. A stance as strong as an oak tree.
What others see and hear: Great posture suggests that you are confident, can lead well, are trustworthy and are rooted in your beliefs. Just make sure that your excellent posture isn't negated by a stiff, immobile upper body.
Work that works for you: Perfect posture is a must for someone working as an executive or in marketing, positions where confidence is crucial to success.
6. Legs wide open, arms stretched out, taking up lots of space.
What others see and hear: You're clearly comfortable with yourself and don't mind being noticed; but taking up too much space in a small room can be perceived as thoughtless and arrogant. Furthermore, your casual stance may limit the ability of others to take you as seriously as you might like. Try taking up less space by bringing your legs and arms closer to your torso and sitting up straighter in your chair for a more professional demeanor.
Work that works for you: The need to be seen is a must for someone in command of a group of people; as a teacher or in a management position you'll find your need to spread yourself around to be an added bonus.
7. Leaning toward the person who is talking.
What others see and hear: A subtle lean toward the individual who is presenting indicates that you are a gracious listener and are interested and respectful of what the other person has to say. Be sure to not dive too deeply into the other person's space -- leaning too closely may move the other person out of their comfort zone.
Work that works for you: Any field like hospitality, where a pleasant bond between two people is needed in order to have a successful outcome, is a great choice for you if you're a natural leaner.
8. A shirttail out, a missing button, and other slovenly behaviors.
What others see and hear: You can't expect people to take you seriously if you don't take the time to put yourself together properly. A quick check in the mirror and a change of shirt could make or break your career trajectory in many fields.
Work that works for you: If you'd rather that people focus more on your accomplishments than your clothes, look to careers that are notable for their casual nature, like computer and Internet-oriented jobs.