Good eye contact. Walking tall. Not fidgeting.
We all know the rules of good body language, but they can be tricky to adhere to in real life.
Staring at someone in a one-to-one situation can feel a little contrived and intense, while sitting up straight is a habit that nine hours in front of the desk every day quickly erodes.
But, just like riding a bike, once you master a few basics of body language, the skill will stay with you for life.
During any half-hour conversation, we can send out over 800 nonverbal signals. And since around 55% of everyday communication is derived from body language, learning how to use it to your advantage will improve your presence in the office no end.
Here are three elements of body language that Business Insider reporter Áine Cain recommends practising on a daily basis to get ahead at work:
Develop a strong handshake
Don't whatever you do deliver a 'limp fish' handshake
We all know someone who, when proffered a hand, offers a limp excuse of a gesture in return. It's a surprisingly annoying weakness; it suggests that person isn't fully committed to the gesture or the relationship being made. It also translates a lack of confidence.
But it's easy to rectify.
Quoting InfoShore cofounder Ashish Arora, Business Insider says: "When squeezing your hand you want the grip to be tight enough to feel the bones of the other person’s hand lightly pressing into your skin and then keeping the same amount of pressure while you make two to three moderately strong shakes in the vertical plain. Maintain eye contact and a smile throughout."
While we're all aware that fidgeting translates awkwardness, it's better not to be unnaturally still, either.
"This may be a sign of the primitive neurological 'fight,' rather than the 'flight,' response, as the body positions and readies itself for possible confrontation," behavioural analyst Dr. Lillian Glass tells Business Insider.
"When you speak and engage in normal conversation, it is natural to move your body around in subtle, relaxed, and, for the most part, unconscious movements. So if you observe a rigid, catatonic stance devoid of movement, it is often a huge warning sign that something is off."
Slow everything down
Hold your horses to stand out from the crowd
Going at full-pelt is part and parcel of a frenetic work schedule for many people. But even if your brain is moving at the speed of light, it's worth slowing down your speech and movements.
Added to this is the fact that nerves mean we often speed up in a work situation.
Consciously slowing everything down redresses the balance and gives us weight and gravitas in the way that quick-fire, jerky gestures never can.
"Take a deep breath, slow down, and be more deliberate about your movements at your next meeting. You'll look far more confident and competent," writes Cain.