Sometimes, without even realizing, you may be giving off body language or action cues that people pick up and interpret as being negative, even if you believe you’re doing nothing wrong at all. Whether we accept it or not, people read each other “People read each other’s intent as soon as they see each other,” says Nick Morgan, speech coach and author of new book “Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact.” Automatically and without thinking, we are constantly on the lookout for signals from others that we then fixate on and interpret through our own lenses.
What messages are you unknowingly sending? Below are a few of the most universal ways you can hurt your character at work without even realizing it:
- Not preparing for meetings: Every conversation consists of two parts, the verbal talk and the physical body language. When you’re saying one thing and your body is conveying another, you’re sending mixed signals to others. Although your content might be beneficial, you are losing credibility, as people are more focused on your lack of enthusiasm rather than the ideas you present. Focus on the tone of your voice and the energy you’re giving off when speaking to others.
- Leaning back in conversations: A common way people give off the impression that they are bored, impatient or disinterested in what a co-worker or supervisor has to say is by leaning back, slouching or just turning their head toward the person talking, as opposed to their entire body. People want to know that what they are saying has value to the person supposedly listening. Pay extra attention to your posture-whether standing or sitting. It also helps to sit closer to the edge of your seat while exhibiting great posture and leaning in toward the conversation.
- Long-winded: This is very common to many people, especially when trying to tell a story that hasn’t exactly been thought out completely. What we think sounds coherent in our head may be the exact opposite when spoken out loud. By rambling on or dragging out a story, idea or task to someone, they are not focusing on what you’re saying and are likely to concentrate on wanting to just find the nearest exit out of the intended conversation.
- Not controlling your voice: The tone of your voice has a huge impact on the impression you give to others. According to Nick Morgan, “a stressful situation, like an important presentation or meeting, causes many to drive their voices outside of their natural vocal range, which makes it sounds thin and weak. Women tend to go up too high, while men tend to go too low. Sitting or standing upright, taking deep belly breaths, and letting your voice rise with passion and fall with authority help create a neutral leadership voice.”