We've all heard that it's not what you say, but how you say it, but do you ever consider that advice in your work life? Sometimes we're concentrating so much on getting the facts and legal analysis right, and meeting a deadline, that we neglect common communication.
One of those times when you really need to be aware of your body language is in meetings. We do so much work sitting alone at our desks that we forget that when we are in a meeting, we need to watch our body language, as well as what we say. Here are some tips for ensuring that your body language is not saying something that you don't want it to.
1. Don't Be Hangry
No, that's not a typo. It's a word:
Hangry: the irrational irritation one gets when he or she is hungry.
We've all been hangry. It's easy to get absorbed in your work and forget to eat. While that's not recommended -- ever -- you should especially not skip a meal before a meeting. Your irritation will come through in your facial expression or aggressive posture, even if you keep it under wraps verbally. Make sure that you have a bite to eat before your meetings to avoid the wrath of hanger.
2. Visit the Restroom
This may seem elementary, but visit the restroom before your meeting. You don't want to have to excuse yourself during the meeting because you may miss out on valuable info, and your absence will reflect poorly on your judgment. That, and you don't want to do the adult version of the pee pee dance in your seat.
3. Put on Your Poker Face
Poker faces have value beyond Lady Gaga tunes and card tables. You should wear your poker face to meetings where you may be angry, or don't like or don't get along with some of the people who will attend the meeting, according to the Harvard Business Review. Keep personal feelings out of the meeting, and focus on the task at hand.
4. Don't Fidget
If you're one of those people whose leg is constantly kicking, or fingers are tapping the desk, or whatever your twitch is -- please stop. Keep all fidgeting in check because it causes distraction, and makes you look unprofessional.
These tips sounds simple enough, but some of them (I'm looking at you fidgeting) may be harder to implement because we do so many things without noticing. Try to be very aware of all of your movements and expressions -- they are saying more than you want them to.
How will you adjust your body language in meetings? Let us know @FindLawLP on Twitter.
Editor's Note, April 12, 2015: This post was first published in April, 2014. It has since been updated.
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- BigLaw 101: How to Be a Great Associate (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- 5 Tips for More Effective Meetings (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)