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In a meeting? Here’s how to make a horrible impression

By Judith Mukiri Mwobobia | September 9th 2019

1. Sitting silently in meetings

In most interactions, sitting silently in group dynamics for too long can be perceived as disinterest in the discussion. Purpose to establish a physical presence in meetings and remain engaged throughout.

By taking up space in the room, you unconsciously communicate power and confidence to the people in attendance.

You can do this by leaning forward while seated, widening your arms and placing them on conference tables or desk, and widening your stance while standing.

2. Keeping your cell phone in sight

Even just leaving your mobile phone in sight on the table in front of you or using it to check the time sends a bad message to the people you are speaking to. It subconsciously says that they are not important to you and that you cannot wait to get back to the cell phone.

Anything that takes your attention away from the speaker is a no-no in a meeting. People will think that as soon as it buzzes or gives some other notification, your focus from the meeting will be diminished.

Therefore, you should always keep your cell phone out of sight during meetings and use a watch or the clock to check the time. Be careful not to look at your watch too much because they show boredom and makes the other person feel rushed and unimportant.

3. Not smiling

Smiling generally makes people feel more at ease. Allow yourself to smile if the person with whom you are speaking smiles, or if the context of the conversation allows. It does not have to be awkward or continuous; a slight upward curve of the lips should suffice as long as it looks genuine.

Practise smiling even when speaking on the phone with someone. Although they cannot see you, your body language transfers to your voice and it is likely the other person will feel the positive difference in your tone.

4. Invading personal space

Standing too close to someone can make them very uncomfortable and ultimately suggests that you have no understanding of personal space. Maintain appropriate distance when conversing with colleagues and acquaintances.

5. Contradicting verbal and non-verbal messages

People believe your body language over your words, so even if you don’t intend to send the wrong message, you just might. Your body language should match your words.

For example, if you are praising someone for doing a good job, do not frown, roll your eyes, cross your arms or sound unimpressed about it.

Your face, gestures and voice should also show that you are happy with their work.

Source: The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work by Carol Kinsey Goman.

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