Anyone that’s ever had a job interview knows about the importance of body language; that even the tiniest changes to your posture and facial expression matter.
But maybe that interview was months or even years ago. How often do you think about your body language when you’re sat at your desk? You might find it easier to work when you’re reclining in your seat, but others may simply see someone who isn’t engaged in their work trying to catch forty winks.
The truth is that even beyond the interview, your body language still speaks volumes about you – and people take notice.
It’s time to take back control.
Experts at office furniture suppliers, DBI Furniture Solutions identified some of the most common ways that people sit at their desks, and offer some small tweaks you can make to improve how others perceive you in the office.
Position 1: Homo erectus
- Straight back
- Both feet firmly on the floor
- Chin up
Communicates: Confidence, self-righteousness
This seating stance is ideal for good posture and projecting confidence, so if this is your default seating position, you’re among the lucky few.
Though sitting this way primes you to feel professional and composed, it can also project an air of superiority to others, who might feel like you’re unapproachable as a result.
Try: relaxing your posture every now and again; allow yourself to lean back in your chair when you’re thinking. That way, you’ll communicate to others that you’re non-judgemental and available for discussion. You’ll also increase blood flow around your body to reduce fatigue and boost your productivity.
Position 2: The screen sniffer
- Leaning far forward
- Chest directly over keyboard
- Elbows tucked into the side
Communicates: Fastidiousness, unavailability
Those adopting the screen-sniffer pose are often sticklers for detail. While this attention to the small print is certainly desirable in many administrative or accounting positions, this forward-leaning pose can indicate you’re too focused on your work to talk (either that, or you’re seriously visually impaired).
Plus, it’s really bad for you: for every inch of forward head posture, you increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds. Nobody wants to be a hunchback.
Try: installing a monitor arm. Monitor arms allow you to move your screen further forward, preventing your from leaning over your desk to read your emails.
Position 3: The recliner
- Leaning far back
- Heels on the floor
- Shoulders hunched forward
Communicates: An easy-going nature, laziness
Slouching back in your chair and keeping at arm’s length from your keyboard shows you as relaxed, which can make you approachable. Unfortunately, this is also the pose that was made famous by Homer Simpson, so it’s become synonymous with laziness, which puts you in the firing line when there are grumblings about productivity.
Avoid the recliner pose to keep your reputation as a hard worker in tact and help you engage more with the task at hand.
Try: moving your monitor further away using a monitor arm so that the screen is difficult to read from where you normally find yourself reclining. You can also increase the height of your chair to make stretching out your legs less comfortable to dissuade yourself from doing so.
Position 4: The criss-cross
- One leg crossed over the other
- Elbows out in front of torso
- Arched back
Crossing our legs comes pretty naturally, but doing so too often can communicate that you’re insecure because you’re making yourself seem smaller.
Not only can this make others more cautious when they speak to you, but it can make them doubt your confidence in the decisions you make. Come on, Carol, we know you mean business.
Try: raising your chair or lowering your desk. Giving yourself less leg room restricts your ability to put one leg over the other; instead, you’ll plant both feet on the ground.
Position 5: The chin prop
- Sat slumped to one side
- Chin or cheek rested on fist
- Head propped up by elbow
Nothing says “I love my job” more than needing to physically prop up your head at your desk.
Adopting the chin prop tells people that you’re dissatisfied, and forces your body into the kind of slumped position that can leave you feeling sapped of energy and muttering that you’re bored.
Try: reordering your desk so that your monitor is positioned directly ahead of you, or bring your keyboard forward so there’s less room for you to prop your elbow.
Position 6: The chaise longue
- Legs splayed to the side
- Torso arched
- One arm on desk for support
Research suggests that splaying one’s legs out to the side is an unconscious sign of flirtatiousness, so try to avoid this pose wherever you can.
Not only can it miscommunicate your intentions, but it looks unprofessional, too, so you may find your co-workers take you less seriously if you sit like this on a regular basis.
Try: swapping your chair for one with armrests to stop you from unconsciously propping yourself back into the chaise longue pose.
The more you know
Understanding how your posture can affect you and those around you, the easier it is to start implementing changes to counter them. Small tweaks to your posture can transform how you’re perceived by your colleagues, helping set you up for success.