Physical Gestures to be avoided at office


A key component of establishing and maintaining good professional reputation at workplace is effective and crisp communication. You will be surprised to know that body language or physical gestures actually comprises of an important part of professional communication. Effective communication is not just verbal but also non verbal. By indulging in incorrect body language you can be mistranslated by many and give off the wrong message, you will also risk being negatively judged. In this essay we will be sharing a few of the top negative body languages that are considered red flags in the workplace :


  1. )Biting Nails : Many people especially job candidates who have been called for an interview tend to do this. It is a symbol of nervousness. Displaying extreme nervousness like this will send off a negative impression to employers – that you are unable to deal with stress maturely. And secondly biting nails is not just unseemly, unprofessional but unhygienic. You will be expected to shake hands with a client, with colleagues etc, if they catch you biting your nail to bits- just imagine how disgusted they will feel!


2.)  Not Making Direct Eye Contact : Many shy, reserved people who have weak people/social skills, do tend to avoid eye contact. Please do try and avoid doing it. How on earth will your colleagues and employer who are virtual strangers know that you are an introvert? You risk coming across as antisocial, arrogant, condescending to outsiders if you keep avoiding eye contact. You might even come across as untrustworthy. Most people tend to interpret not meeting eye gaze as a sign that the person is untrustworthy or shifty.


3.) Keeping Hands Stuffed in Pockets : Repeat to self: Pockets are places where I keep my wallet, my mobile and some ready exchange, not my hands. My hands belong where they should outside my pocket. Keeping hands in pockets gives you a distinct unfriendly, don’t approach me vibe. If you are in a profession that involves heavy interpersonal interaction such as sales, advertising and marketing, you will be putting off clients with this posture.


4.) Crossing Arms : Many people cross arms across their chest when they are in a situation that is unfamiliar or unpleasant – making them vulnerable. The arms act as an automatic barrier. Many people when nervous also do this. You should however stop doing it, in the professional scenario, as while you are trying to project yourself as enthusiastic, keen, interested and very much in tune with what’s going on, your arms are conveying a completely different message!


5.) Getting Too Close : Many people shockingly have a lack of respect for basic barriers. Some think getting in your face or decreasing physical proximity with the person whom they are addressing will make them appear more forceful, will get the message come across as more loud and clear. They are wrong. Your colleagues, client and employer are not your family, or close friends, which whom you can be playful and blatantly disregard some basic boundaries.


Yes you can have cordial, pleasant rapport with some of them- but this does not mean you can interact with them the same way you interact with your BFF. This means, no matter how much you discover you like them, you just cannot go in for the arm hug, arm punching, fist bumping etc.  If you breach their personal space, you automatically come across as rude, uncouth and overbearing- and they might wish to limit their interactions with you. You might even risk coming across as having less than platonic intentions, so beware!


6.) Looking at Phone : That awesome Facebook Update, latest gossip on Buzzfeed app can wait you know… till the conference is over or your colleague/senior/employer has finished their business with you. Unless you have a family emergency , ignore fiddling with your mobile. Instruct your family and friends not to contact you unless its an urgent emergency, or life and death situation. Fiddling with your smartphone while the person in front of you is speaking is the height of disrespect.


7.) Weak Handshake : Professional, or business handshakes should not be so firm/robust that you risk hurting the other person ( this is for those who have fists of steel : P ) But neither it should be so light, that the other person barely feels it. A limp handshake is a symbol of weakness, lack of vitality, or enthusiasm. You do not want to be seen as unenthusiastic/disinterested do you?


8.) Air Quote : You are not a choir conductor, neither are you speaking to a blind/mute/deaf  person who needs sign language.  So moving your arms, hands or fingers through the air frequently to make a point is a strict no no in the office, you will be seen as vacant, wishy washy etc. Worse the employer will think that you have little to say, or you are struggling to translate your thoughts in proper words – struggling to communicate if you keep doing that!