These can imply that you’re stretching the truth. Aim for small, controlled gestures to indicate leadership and confidence, and open gestures like spreading your arms apart or showing the palms of your hands—to communicate that you have nothing to hide.
By doing so, you create a physical barrier that suggests you’re not open to what the other person is saying. Even if you’re smiling or engaged in a pleasant conversation, the other person may get a nagging sense that you’re shutting him or her out. Even if folding your arms feels comfortable, resist the urge to do so if you want people to see you as open-minded and interested in what they have to say.
Inconsistency between your words and your facial expression causes people to sense that something isn’t right and they begin to suspect that you’re trying to deceive them, even if they don’t know exactly why or how.
Turning yourself away from others
By not facing the speaker, or leaning into your conversation, the person may think you are not interested, uncomfortable, and perhaps even distrustful of the person speaking. Try leaning in towards the person who is speaking and tilt your head slightly as you listen to them speak. This shows the person speaking that they have your complete focus and attention.
Bad posture is a sign of disrespect. It communicates that you’re bored and have no desire to be where you are. The brain is hardwired to equate power with the amount of space people take up. Standing up straight with your shoulders back is a power position. It maximizes the amount of space you fill. Slouching, on the other hand, is the result of collapsing your form—it takes up less space and projects less power.
Too little or too much eye contact
Lack of eye contact makes it look like you have something to hide, and that arouses suspicion. Not making good eye contact can also indicate a lack of confidence and interest, which you never want to communicate in a business setting. Too much eye contact may be perceived as aggressive, or an attempt to dominate. You should try to match the amount of eye contact the other person makes.
Watching the clock
Looking at the time while talking to someone is a clear sign of disrespect, impatience, and inflated ego. It sends the message that you have better things to do than talk to the person you’re with, and that you’re anxious to leave them.
Fidgeting is the body’s way of dispersing built up nervous energy. It indicates that you are uncomfortable in the situation you are in and you don’t want to be there. Don’t fix your clothes, play with a pen or drum your fingers. People will pick up that you’re nervous.
Inappropriate strength in handshakes
Weak handshakes can signal that you lack authority and confidence, while a handshake that is too strong could be perceived as an aggressive attempt at domination, which is just as bad. Adapt your handshake to each person and situation, but make sure it’s always firm.