Your work is always top-notch. You step up and take initiative at every opportunity. You've proven that you have the grit and quality standard that is necessary to succeed in your industry. But it's now been over a year, and a promotion is nowhere in sight. What's going on?
You may be saying and doing all the right things, while at the same time sending off nonverbal cues that could be ruinous to your career.
A UCLA study has shown that body language accounts for 55% of all communication, and we as humans are hardwired to jump to conclusions. Everyone in your workplace--your boss included-- is making snap judgments based on how you're presenting yourself.
Here are 7 body language habits that are sabotaging your career.
1. The "I Can't Believe It's Only Tuesday" Face
When we spend every working day sitting at a computer, we're not just ruining our physical health--we're depleting ourselves of social skills. We don't have to engage with or react to people, so we default to an apathetic expression that makes us look like we don't care about anything.
So while you might consider this your "thinking face," it looks like you're counting down minutes until it's time to be anywhere else but here.
2. The Fidgeter
Recent studies have shown that fidgeting is a way to get unused energy out of your system. Tapping your foot or clicking your pen may be small movements that we barely think about. But in a work situation, it says "I'm unsure of myself and I don't know what I'm talking about." Great leaders make economical use of their body, and when they do gesture, it's all the more effective for it.
If you need a way to release energy, take an afternoon walk. Keeping yourself cooped up might just be the trigger that's leading to these offputting tendencies.
3. The Scrupulous Judge
Many people naturally narrow their eyes to focus better--especially if they have bad vision. They use their eyes as a physical way to hone their attention in on something or someone. Unfortunately, it often results in a face like this.
Narrowed eyes give the impression of a scowl--the universal sign of anger or disapproval. Just think about the narrowed eyes of an angered tiger or wolf. Not only will your engaged audience feel uncomfortable, but they'll likely avoid an interaction with you in the future. Be cognizant of your facial reactions to make sure you're not staring down a peer or manager.
4. The Dilly-Daddler
Spacing out is actually a sign that you're more creative than most people. In fact, JK Rowling was fired from her desk job for it. So while the tendency isn't destructive in itself, the impression it leaves is. If you tend to look off into the distance when thinking hard, stop, and think about how it makes you look.
This body language makes you look disengaged and like you're floating around in la-la land. And there's nothing that says "I hate my job" more than disengagement.
5. The Creeper
It's easy to feel social anxiety in a room full of superiors. You don't want to say something stupid or give them the wrong impression, so you just keep quiet and linger. But saying nothing is pretty much the worst thing you can do.
Here's something that's hard to hear: you're not getting a promotion because you're not memorable. If you've said less than ten words to your boss this week, then he doesn't have a solid impression of you. Don't be a lingerer-- work on establishing a relationship with peers and superiors, so that they can trust you in a higher position.
6. The Hoverer
It takes a certain amount of social acumen to realize that there are two types of people in the workplace: those that understand personal space, and those who don't. If you belong in the latter category, you might as well kiss your career ambitions goodbye.
According to anthropologist Edward T. Hall, the average person has four bubbles of space: intimate (<1.5 ft), personal (between 1.5ft and 4ft), social (between 4ft and 12ft), and public. You have to get along with a lot of people on your way to the top--so don't mess up something as simple as standing too close.
7. The Scrooge
Not everything in the office is going to be to your liking--just don't have it written all over your face. Carnegie Mellon professor Dr. Christopher Olivola has done extensive research on the concept of face-ism. In short, people who look unhappy are less likely to be trusted.
Avoid crossing your arms or putting on a disapproving face too much at work. You will not only scare away your peers, but your superiors won't trust you enough to grant you more responsibilities (or a higher paycheck!).