Body language tips for the holiday office party
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had a crush on her manager, but she'd managed to keep it under wraps.
That is, until the office party . . . and several glasses of Merlot.
Suddenly it seemed like the perfect time to unburden her tortured soul.
And unburden she did, to everyone in the room -- including the manís
wife. Not surprisingly, this turned a professional holiday gathering
into an excruciating and career-limiting event.
holiday office party offers a great opportunity to socialize with
co-workers and develop or deepen relationships. Itís a wonderful time
to mingle with colleagues in a less pressured setting. It might give
you a chance to personally thank those who have been helpful or
supportive throughout the year. It could even be an opportunity to meet
with senior executives, either to introduce yourself or get to know
them on a more informal level.
desire to relax and have fun -- especially in these challenging
economic times -- can be a highly anticipated, positive antidote to
workplace stress. But when you combine the need to let your hair down
with too many glasses of wine or cocktails, it's a mix that can cause
trouble. You may forget that this is not the time to rant about the
depreciated value of your 401K, tell the latest off-color joke, or do
your wicked impression of the CEO, even if youíve totally nailed his
southern drawl. In fact, those kinds of inappropriate comments (as well
as confessing your innermost secrets as Jessica did) may not only cost
you a promotion, but quite possibly a job.
what you say is only part of the challenge. Another personal dynamic
you should be aware of is the impact of your body language. In all
workplace situations, including after-hours parties, your nonverbal
behavior speaks volumes. The trick is to physically embody the messages
that you want delivered. Here are some body language tips that will
help your holiday office party be a personal and professional success
- Develop an
inclusive, welcoming attitude. Pretend that you are the partyís host or
hostess, and that your job is to make others feel welcome and at ease.
Approaching people with this attitude will immediately resonate in a
- Stand tall.
Your mother was right (again!) when she told you to stand up straight.
As you pull your shoulders back and hold your head high, you assume a
posture of confidence and self-esteem.
- Shake hands
- but don't go overboard. The way you greet your fellow party-goers can
have a huge impact on their perception of you. A firm handshake is a
business skill worth developing, and a light touch on the arm or
shoulder can create an instant bond. But if you hang on people or touch
them too frequently, you send unintended signals of neediness or
- Let your
body show that you are at ease. If you want people to see you as
comfortable and approachable, assume an open position with your legs
about shoulder width apart and your arms loosely at your side. Don't
cross your arms and legs or use objects (your drink or plate of food)
as a barrier. It looks as if you are closed off or resistant.
- Mirror the
other person's gestures and expressions. When we meet others for the
first time, subconsciously we scan the other person's body to see if
they move or gesture in a similar way to us. When you subtly mimic the
person you are speaking to, it is a way of silently saying, "We are
alike. We feel the same and have the same attitudes."
- Smile. A
smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome. Smiling directly influences
how other people respond to you. The human brain prefers happy faces,
recognizing them more quickly than those with negative expressions. In
fact, research shows that if you smile at someone, it activates the
"reward center" in that person's brain. It is also a natural response
for the other person to smile back at you.
positive eye contact. Looking at someone's eyes transmits energy and
indicates interest and openness. (To improve your eye contact, make a
practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you speak with at the
- Lean in
slightly. Leaning forward shows you're engaged and interested, but also
be respectful of other people's space. Although this varies by culture,
in North American business situations, even in a party setting, that
means staying at least 18 inches away.
- Use open arm
movements and show the palms of your hands. Those gestures are
subconsciously evaluated as positive, candid and persuasive. But keep
your gestures below shoulder level. Flailing your arms in the air will
not look enthusiastic, only erratic.
By all means, attend the holiday
office gathering and have a good time. Just remember, you're at a
work-related social event that is just as important as any other
business function. Which brings me to my last point: Don't wear your
"club appropriate attire" to the office party. Women especially should
take note and save their strapless, midriff baring, see-through tops
and micro-mini skirts for socializing with friends.
these tips in mind and use the office party to make a good impression,
show off your sparkling personality, and advance -- not derail -- your
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.Ē
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-11-15 17:18:45 in Personal Articles