Non-verbal communication in the office – Fake it ‘til you make it!

Sally Ward

Non-verbal communication in the office – Fake it ‘til you make it!

It always seems to be the confident ones that get head in the workplace, but what if confidence isn’t your strong point? Fake it! Non-verbal communication is just as important as what you say in all aspects of life, but especially in the workplace. Holding yourself well and believing in what you say will get people to listen and believe in you too.

Here are a few non-verbal ways to boost your workplace communication and exude confidence.

Standing posture

Whether it’s standing in front of a client presenting something or simply having a conversation with a colleague in the office, how we stand tends to match how we feel. To appear more confident stand tall with relaxed shoulders and a slightly protruding chest, keeping your posture open and welcoming.

Not feeling confident before an important meeting? Try the power pose. Find a quiet spot and stand tall, holding your arms out or up. Doing this for as little as two minutes lowers levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and encourages increased levels of testosterone – the hormone linked to power and dominance. Meaning you should then be able to head into your meeting feeling stronger and ready for anything.

Crossed arms

Crossing your arms creates a closed posture and depending on your role in a business situation it can outwardly show different emotions, none of them beneficial.

If you are the speaker, crossing your arms can come across defensive, it can also represent insecurity and/or dishonesty. The last things you want to portray when trying to keep the attention of the room.

As a listener, crossed arms (or slumping in your chair) shows disinterest which isn’t very supportive towards the speaker. It also doesn’t look good if the speaker is your boss and you want to get ahead – showing interest in what is happening in the business is always a positive.

Whether you’re the speaker or listener, try to keep open gestures during conversations. Having your palms on show depicts honesty – you have nothing to hide. Open gestures can help increase trust and encourage everyone to feel at ease.


Talking with your hands shows confidence and again encourages trust. Gesticulating can also help set a rhythm when presenting making what you have to say more interesting for your audience.

Fidgeting is not gesticulating and has the opposite effect. It shows nerves and takes the focus off what you are saying. Believe in what you are saying and show that passion through supporting hand movements.

Don’t make your gestures too big though! Powerful business people tend to use small gestures to demonstrate their point with authority. Subtle but strong is the key.

Eye contact

Too much eye contact can be uncomfortable and appear false but too little shows disinterest, so what is a good balance? You need to make sure you’re engaging with your conversation partner and joining up all your non-verbal communication to give the same message. If you’re agreeing but looking away at the same time it could look insincere.

We all need thinking time and when we do this we tend to look away, it’s best to look to the side rather than down when thinking in conversation as looking down is linked to dishonesty.

A good level of eye contact indicates, interest, attention, confidence and honesty.


In business, a good handshake can be the difference between closing and losing the deal. Get this right at the start and it will help the relationship get off on the right foot…or should I say hand.

A “good” handshake is commonly described as one that is firm but not overbearing and palm to palm contact is key. No-one likes a wet lettuce handshake.

Facial expression

Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Obviously you don’t want a perm-a-grin or a fake, insincere smile but wearing a smile releases endorphins and serotonin giving you a little boost of happiness.

Smiling is another thing that demonstrates confidence, along with warmth, energy and openness. Wearing a kind smile will make others feel at ease and engage with you more, it also encourages others to smile spreading the joy and adding a feeling of positivity to what you are saying.

Showing zero physical feedback or facial expression can really kill a conversation as it’s hard to read how engaged you are meaning the speaker is more likely to just give up and speak to someone who gives something back. If you’re interested, make it known with your expression.


Remember, non-verbal communication is just as important as the words you are saying, if not more so! Physical feedback can really aid a conversation and just implementing a few of the above could really increase your confidence and propel your communications.


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