The Power of Body Language for Better Workplace Relationships

The Power of Body Language for Better Workplace Relationships

Early in my career, I was in a marketing management role and found myself juggling multiple deadlines and priorities, each seemingly more critical than the last. The pressure was immense, and without realising it, my body language began to reflect my internal chaos. My shoulders were constantly tense, my face often wore a frown (I know now this is often referred to as a ‘resting b*tch face), and my posture was guarded and closed off.

It wasn’t long before I noticed the impact this was having on others in my team—their conversations with me became stilted, collaboration dwindled, and there was an air of unease around our interactions. It wasn’t until later that I understood how my body language, driven by stress and a lack of self-awareness, was negatively impacting those around me.

If only I knew then what I know now: nonverbal communication is so powerful for shaping workplace relationships.

Let’s explore how body language can impact relationships at work and practical tips for fostering healthy behaviours within your team.

The Silent Language of Leadership Body Language in the workplace
Body language speaks louder than words, especially in high-pressure environments. Our nonverbal cues are often the primary way others perceive and interpret our intentions, emotions, and attitudes. Here are some key insights into the importance of nonverbal communication in the workplace:

  • First Impressions Matter: The way we present ourselves through body language can significantly influence how others perceive us. From a firm handshake to maintaining eye contact, small gestures can leave a lasting impression.
  • Consistency Builds Trust: Consistent body language helps build trust and credibility. When our words align with our nonverbal cues, it reinforces our message and strengthens relationships.
  • Open Body Language Encourages Collaboration: Open gestures, such as uncrossed arms and facing others directly, signal openness and willingness to engage. This can foster a collaborative and inclusive environment.
  • Awareness of Nonverbal Cues: Being aware of our own body language and interpreting others’ nonverbal signals can enhance communication and prevent misunderstandings.


Practical Tips for Positive Nonverbal Communication
As a leader, it is essential to model positive nonverbal communication and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and supported.

Here are some practical tips for using body language to support healthy behaviours in your team:

  • Maintain Open and Relaxed Posture – When interacting with your team, strive to maintain an open and relaxed posture. Avoid crossing your arms or legs, as this can be perceived as defensive or closed off. Instead, keep your body open and facing others, signalling that you are approachable and receptive.
  • Use Positive Facial Expressions – Your facial expressions can convey a wide range of emotions. A genuine smile, for instance, can create a sense of warmth and positivity, making others feel valued and appreciated. Conversely, frowning or looking tense can create an atmosphere of stress and discomfort. Remember to smile!
  • Make Eye Contact – Maintaining eye contact is crucial for building trust and showing that you are engaged in the conversation. It demonstrates that you are listening and interested in what the other person is saying.
  • Be Mindful of Personal Space – Respecting personal space is essential for creating a comfortable work environment. Pay attention to the personal space preferences of your colleagues and avoid standing too close or invading their personal boundaries.
  • Use Gestures to Reinforce Your Message -gestures can help reinforce your verbal message and make your communication more dynamic and engaging. Use hand gestures to emphasise key points, but please ensure they are natural and not overly exaggerated!
  • Pay Attention to Others’ Body Language – Being attuned to the body language of others can provide valuable insights into their emotions and reactions. If a team member appears stressed or uncomfortable, address their concerns with empathy and support.
  • Practice Active Listening – Active listening involves fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding their message, and responding thoughtfully. Use nonverbal cues such as nodding, leaning slightly forward, and maintaining eye contact to show that you are engaged and attentive.
  • Manage Stress Through Body Language – When under pressure, it’s crucial to manage your body language to avoid negatively impacting those around you. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, stretching, or taking short breaks to release tension and maintain a calm and composed demeanour.
  • Encourage Positive Nonverbal Communication in Your Team – Foster a culture of positive nonverbal communication by encouraging your team to be mindful of their body language. Provide training or resources on nonverbal communication skills and lead by example.


Creating a Peaceful, Positive, and Productive Workplace
Nonverbal communication plays a vital role in shaping the dynamics within a team. By being mindful of our body language and fostering positive nonverbal behaviours, we can create a work environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to perform at their best.

In high-pressure situations, it’s easy to overlook the impact of our nonverbal cues. However, taking the time to develop self-awareness and practice positive body language can lead to more harmonious and productive workplace relationships. Remember, it’s not just about what we say, but how we say it that truly matters.

Harness the power of body language to build stronger, more supportive teams.

By incorporating these practices, you can help your team navigate pressure with grace and maintain a peaceful, positive, and productive work environment.

If you are interested in learning more about using body language to support a peaceful, positive and productive working environment, let’s talk! My Peace Under Pressure workshops are designed to build long-lasting positive behaviour change so people can thrive in the workplace.

Carley Nicholson
[email protected]