When it comes to communication, body language is just as important as the words you speak. And poor body language will cost you sales, no matter how great your pitch is.
The good news: You can learn to control your body language. And to help you figure out where you may need to improve, we’ve compiled seven of the worst ways you can handle your body when engaging with customers:
1. Avoiding eye contact
In the U.S., it’s good to maintain eye contact 70% to 80% of the time. Any more and you might appear threatening, any less and you may appear uncomfortable or disinterested.
Good eye contact exudes confidence, engagement and concern. Plus, it’ll help you read your customers’ emotions and body language.
2. Bad posture
Whether at your desk or on your feet, posture matters. Hanging your head or slouching your shoulders can make you look weary and unconfident. Instead, keep your back straight and chest open.
When sitting with a client, it’s okay to lean slightly forward to show interest. However, leaning too far forward can make you look like you’re groveling, and sitting too far back can make you look like you’re domineering.
3. Extra mouth movement
Some people move their mouths around even when they aren’t talking.
Biting or twisting your lips often makes you look uncomfortable or like you’re holding something back, such as a retort or insult. And if you’re giving a smile, remember: A real smile incorporates your teeth and eyes.
4. Fleeting hands
Keep your hands in sight. Shoving them in your pockets will make people think you’re disengaged or hiding something.
Try keeping them open with the palms up to show you’re receptive and friendly. And always avoid balling your hands into fists.
5. Invading personal space
When engaging with customers, it’s generally best to stand within one to four feet of them. This will put you close enough to interact without making them uncomfortable.
Areas closer than one foot are usually reserved for family and friends.
6. Holding a defensive stance
Crossing your arms or legs often appears defensive.
If you find you need to cross your arms because you’re cold, be sure to smile and appear welcoming. When standing, try to keep your legs shoulder-width apart.
7. Excessive movement
Unconscious actions like twirling a pen or tapping your feet are common indications of impatience. The same is true for tapping your fingers or twiddling your thumbs.
Become mindful of your own personal ticks and the way they might come across to others.