Pay Attention to Your Body Own Language

Last Updated Mar 5, 2008 2:35 PM EST

Much is made of using body language to project strength and competence in the workplace, but as any FBI profiler will tell you, nonverbal cues are an indicator of larger underlying truths that shouldn't be swept under the rug.

On BNET's Useful Commute on Monday, Kinsey Consulting Services president Carol Kinsey Goman discussed how, given our sometimes brief workplace interactions, nonverbal communication plays a much larger role.

I agree, and clearly meetings, presentations and hallway encounters offer precious little time to present yourself, but trying to mask your deficiencies with hand gestures, eye contact or a well-timed touch on the arm is like taking Tylenol and not bothering to think about the reason behind your pain. Plus, you also risk coming off as inauthentic. Sure, her tips can be useful if you have to, as they say, "fake it 'til you make it," but if you have persistent problems with giving off negative nonverbal cues, here are some of the larger questions worth asking:

Poor eye contact: Wandering eyes suggest you may have something to hide. If you have trouble being forthright with a teammate or manager, you have to ask, "Am I representing myself honestly, or is this job a stretch for me?" (Either in terms of qualifications or interest.)

Not smiling: When you aren't smiling very often, there's a good chance that you aren't at ease. Do you have enough passion for the job you are doing that you feel a connection with your coworkers? Is your manager making any effort to make you comfortable? What might that say about your working relationship?

Slouching: When people are excited to meet someone or to make their point, they generally stand or sit up straight or even lean forward. If you regularly aren't energetic or confident when in a meeting or presentation, you should be wondering, "Have I chosen a job that is something that I'm excited to get up and do most days? Is this person (or company) for whom I'm working someone I really respect?"