They say actions speak louder than words, and when it comes to nonverbal communication, your body language has a lot to say. Poor nonverbal communication can leave your coworkers feeling like you're giving them the cold shoulder, no matter how friendly your intentions may be. Improving your nonverbal communications skills can make for a more positive work environment and strengthen relations with your coworkers.
Establish Eye Contact When Conversing With Your Coworkers
Eye contact is one of the most important elements of nonverbal communication, and without it, your coworkers may be at a loss when trying to interpret your intentions. Eye contact can convey everything from interest to hostility or even affection. When having a conversation in the office, whether it be with your peers, boss or employees, make a conscious effort to look them in the eye. You may be able to better read their nonverbal communication in return.
Consider Personal Space and Boundaries
Standing too close to your coworkers may make them feel uncomfortable, while standing too far away during a conversation might make you come across as cold and distant. Assess each interaction you have in the workplace, and take a moment to decide the appropriate amount of space to place between you and your coworker. You may feel comfortable standing within a foot of coworkers you are close to, while a few feet might be more appropriate for a coworker you have just met or do not have a close relationship with.
Monitor Your Facial Expressions
From smiling to scowling, your face is capable of conveying a wide range of feelings; feelings you may not want to share with your coworkers. A conversation can quickly turn sour if you've got a frown on your face, and you may be deemed unapproachable and disagreeable if you constantly look unhappy at work. Leave your frustrations at home and take time to smile while at work. It makes you appear friendlier and more welcoming, and can bring more positivity into the workplace.
Watch Your Tone
Your words carry more meaning than you might think. Not only are your coworkers hearing what you say, they're reading into the way you say it. Even a friendly expression such as "good morning" can be misread if you say it in a somber or hostile tone. Likewise, the way you respond to or hand out discipline might not taken seriously if you have a lax or indifferent tone rather than a stern tone in your voice. Pay attention to the way you say things to make sure your tone reflects your intentions.
Use Appropriate Gestures
Standing with your arms crossed may unintentionally convey that you are standoffish and unwelcoming, and fidgeting during a conversation may cause coworkers to feel as though you are disinterested. Consider what messages your gestures and body language are sending to your peers, boss or employees. Shaking hands shows respect and manners, standing up straight conveys a sense of welcoming and facing coworkers during a conversation sends the message that you care about what they are saying.