Reading Body Language in the Office Setting

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had insight to what your co-workers really think simply by reading their body language? You have probably already figured out some of the obvious things a person does such as the rolling of the eyes or the firm hand shake, but wouldn’t you like to know what your boss really thinks of your ideas or if your co-workers are really team players or just out for themselves. The good news is you can learn to understand what people really think by learning how to read body language and what common actions really mean.

People are trained animals who have developed habits over the years that they cannot break. These actions speak louder than most words and most people are not aware that they are even betraying the words that they speak. This can work to your advantage if you know how to evaluate the behavior.

Tips for Reading Body Language

Paying attention to specific actions that a person takes can help give insight into their feelings. Each body part has telltale signs that will clue you in.

  • Eyes - This is probably the most important clue of all. Remember the old saying “if a man cannot look you in the eyes he has something to hide.” This still holds true today a co-worker who maintains eye contact during a conversation with you is expressing interest whereas a co-worker who looks down or away is either ashamed of his words or just plain being dishonest.
  • Hands – In addition to the firm handshake that we have come to know as a sign of confidence, there are many other telltale signs of body language released through the hands. For example, some people tap like crazy which is usually a sign of anxiousness. Others hold their hands together rubbing together or tapping together, this is a person who wants to express dominance. If a person places their hands to form a steeple they feel that they are in charge and want you to know it. While others can place one hand on top of the other as a demonstration of reassurance and comfort to them.
  • Posture - A person who displays a tall shoulder, puffing their chest out is showing dominance and confidence. Whereas a person who begins to slouch while you are talking to them may be questioning what they have heard.
  • Standing at attention - A person who places their hands firmly on their hips is full of aggression. Yet a person with their hands placed behind them commands attention. This act can also mean that a person is frustrated or angry.
  • Stroking - A person who strokes their cheeks or chin is usually in deep thought and may not want to be disturbed at the moment.
  • Yawning - Can certainly mean that someone is just plain tired, but in the work environment it more than likely means that a person is bored with the conversation or the task that they are currently working on.
  • Looking Away - When a person rubs their eyes and turns away it means that they are in disbelief with the conversation.
  • Rubbing the nose – Rubbing of the nose is usually looked upon as a negative reaction. Someone who is constantly either rubbing their nose or touching it is displaying doubt, rejection or is lying.
  • Hand crossed over chest -This person is in defense mode. This type body language should not be provoked but rather recognized. It may be time for a calm discussion over coffee or tea.
  • Fidgeting - A person who cannot sit still may be an anxious person or someone who has something on his mind. If this happens during a meeting it may very well mean that this person thinks that he has more important things to do.
  • Playing with hair - A person who is constantly holding their hair and rolling it is displaying feelings of insecurity and doubt. This person is generally shy around others and has low self-esteem.

There are many other actions that take place but these are a list of the actions that are most often seen in the office. Understanding what a person is really thinking can help you to tune into their feelings and avoid difficult situations. While their actions may not always be true to form, over time you will begin to recognize when it is okay to approach someone or to simply leave them alone.

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Guest Post: Ella Davidson of couponing website, Coupons, has provided this post. strives to provide the most authoritative couponing information available on the Internet.