The office is a wonderful place to make lasting friendships with colleagues, learn from great bosses and make yourself the go-to guy when anyone is in trouble. But there are body language mistakes men make at the workplace that send out the wrong signals and mess up their chances.
Our expert Dr Aman Bhonsle says that for men getting the right body language in the workplace is vital. How can you get it right? He tells you all things that you must do and everything you should avoid.
5 Body Language Mistakes Men Should Never Make At Work
You could be well-groomed, a glib talker, fulfilling the targets and meeting deadlines diligently but all of that can be undone if you’re making some glaring body language mistakes without even being aware of them.
As a result, your colleagues may resent you and your boss may feel you are trying to be the self-proclaimed smart guy around. Be careful. The office body language is something that needs to be studied carefully, as it can have a real impact on your future.
So these are 5 measures you must take if you don’t want to be known as the office twat:
1. Maintain a distance from the opposite sex
When you are working in an office with a good mix of genders, it is very important to keep a safe and respectful physical distance from the opposite sex. If you start giving friendly punches to a woman on her shoulder and say, “Hey, how are you?” or “What’s up?” or keep trying to find excuses to put your arms around a woman, then it is a huge body language mistake you are making.
The work environment varies from office to office, and your behavior must be in line with the expected – often unspoken – rules of conduct. Say, if you work in an advertising agency, media house or film production company, the atmosphere is a lot less formal than you say in a law firm or a corporate office.
Excessive touching, excessive proximity or even making comments about another person’s body, like “Oh, why are you wearing this?!” or “You’re looking like this..” is not acceptable. It does not come under body language but I feel it is very important to be aware of these little tendencies.
As a man, you need to have those boundaries because we live in a country where women don’t feel very safe in general.
Related Reading: 8 Signs Of Sexual Harassment At Work – Watch Out For These!
2. Don’t be over-friendly
Very often people expect to make friends at their workplace. So their demeanor can be sometimes over-friendly. In my opinion, that can also be a problem because you are not in your college canteen anymore. Bad body language at work can actually make you an outcast.
An office is an organization with a specific goal and certain rules and regulations, which you are expected to follow. If you have been hired, it means that you are being paid money for your time and your expertise, not for your ability to become the most likable and liveliest person in the office.
When you spend such a long period of time with the people you work with, of course, you make friends, but that is not the only reason you are there.
One of the common mistakes that people make is being over-friendly and over-sharing details about their personal life too soon. They need to realize that a colleague might be friendly, but the colleague is not a friend.
The things that you say at your workplace can follow you in other places and your professional reputation may get affected as a result. It’s vital to be conscious of how much you share, with whom and why.
3. Fidgeting and scratching are strict no-nos
Being fidgety, scratching yourself in public, cracking your knuckles loudly, or yawning extremely loudly are extremely annoying and go against the office body language basics. Fidgeting with certain gadgets for long periods of time and making a noise like playing the drums at the desk are extremely annoying habits that indicate negative body language.
Or just general stuff, like not dressing properly, stinking, not grooming yourself properly, just letting your beard grow without shaping or trimming it can push you down the dark hole of office etiquette.
Sometimes people can spit while talking because they are talking extremely fast and that can be a big put-off. Bad breath and poor table manners are also off-putting for your coworkers.
4. Avoid over familiarity with men too
Some men may try to get very physical with other male colleagues in an attempt to establish a rapport or bonhomie. They might hit them on their shoulder, with a “Hey buddy, what are you doing?”
Or might even punch them or squeeze their arm or try to grab them by their shoulder. All of these are extremely offensive behaviors. If you do this abroad, you will be sitting in front of HR. In India, we often let it slide, saying “Oh, we are men, we are just boys.”
Trying to use your body to be over familiar with someone who might not be interested is extremely inappropriate body language and must be avoided at all costs.
Related Reading: 12 Ways Office Affairs Can Finish Off Your Career Completely
5. Don’t be crass in front of your coworkers
Things like picking your teeth or nose in public, putting your finger in your ear and scratching it are body language mistakes. Making loud tapping sound with your feet or standing very close to someone while talking to them also qualify as bad body language.
Some people tend to talk very loudly or stand too close to the person they’re speaking to. They don’t realize that they need to keep a safe distance while interacting. Maybe they picked these habits while growing up or in school, maybe their fathers did it and they have observed it and picked it up.
It might even be a reflection of how nervous they are feeling at that moment. Nervous people might just not make eye contact and keep looking at their phones, which can also work against them. Imagine looking at your phone while your colleague or boss is trying to talk to you. You will invariably send out a message that you’re distracted or uninterested.
You need the right coping techniques to deal with your social anxiety and learn to be comfortable in your own skin to be most productive.
Negative impact of body language
Most men end up making a few of these body language mistakes. They fail to understand that the culture of a workplace is totally different from a school, college or club environment. If left unchecked, these can impede your career growth and prospects of finding better avenues.
So, make it a habit to consciously scrutinize your behavior and assess whether you’re projecting the wrong body language in the workplace. If so, correct yourself immediately. With time and practice, you will be able to break these unpleasant tendencies.
Negative body language can make your colleagues uncomfortable and they may claim to be harassed. You may end up in the HR office or risk losing your job.
Positive body language includes good mannerisms like being respectful of everyone’s personal space, having good table manners, being well groomed, and a polite way of speaking.
It can lift up their mood and make their day better. They will give you the respect you give them and your relationship as colleagues will definitely improve.