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Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

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3 How others perceive me

How you are perceived in the workplace can impact on your relationships with colleagues and career progression, and it depends just as much on your non-verbal communication as it does on what you say.

Watch this MindTools video to see in practice how some relatively minor actions, combined together, can create a strong impression.

Body language [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Below is an activity which will help you gain further insight into this.

Activity 3 Evaluating non-verbal communication

Timing: Allow 15 minutes for this activity

Imagine that you are in a work setting, perhaps in a meeting. Consider what message you might be conveying to your colleagues, if you use the non-verbal cues below during the meeting.

Non-verbal signalCould indicate …
Sitting back in a chair, legs crossed at the ankle
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Fidgeting with hands, drumming on the table, tapping feet
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Sitting forward in a chair, maintaining eye contact
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Palms open, shoulders raised, eyebrows raised
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Flaring nostrils, hands on hips, torso thrust forward from the hips
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Shoulders sagging, slumped posture, eyes looking downwards
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Head lifted high, chin jutting forward
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Words: 0
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Discussion

There are no right or wrong answers here but be aware that the suggestions below are common interpretations of thee behaviours.

Non-verbal signalCould indicate
Sitting back in a chair, legs crossed at the ankleRelaxed, confident
Fidgeting with hands, drumming on the table, tapping feetNervous, anxious
Sitting forward in a chair, maintaining eye contactInterested
Palms open, shoulders raised, eyebrows raisedSubmission, lack of aggression
Flaring nostrils, hands on hips, torso thrust forward from the hipsDefiance, aggression
Shoulders sagging, slumped posture, eyes looking downwardsSadness, fear, weariness
Head lifted high, chin jutting forwardSuperiority, fearlessness, arrogance

Do you recognise any of these in yourself? Maybe you sometimes sit too far back in a chair and risk coming across as too relaxed for the situation you are in. Or are you prone to fidgeting? If you are, try placing your hands in your lap with your fingers gently laced together – this should stop you from repeatedly scratching your ear or playing with your watch. Use the personal development plan at the end of this week to address any issues you identify.