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Getting along

Body language

Body language refers to what is communicated to others with your body. Posture, gestures, facial expressions and movement, such as nodding your head to say 'yes' or shrugging your shoulders, is considered body language. Body language is a form of non-verbal communication that can have an impact on how we are perceived by others in the workplace.

Depending on where you work, how you communicate non-verbally and what your body language says to others can vary. In Australia, you may work with people of different nationalities, so having an awareness of cultural body language is helpful too. What might be acceptable to some people may make others feel uncomfortable.

So what kind of body language or non-verbal communication should you be aware of?

Let's look at some positive and negative body language. View at each photo. Think about whether it is displaying positive or negative body language. Then select the image to find out more.

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Worker sitting up straight.

The body language is positive.


Colleague making eye contact as they speak.

The body language is positive.


Colleagues firmly shaking hands.

The body language is positive.


Two colleagues facing each other whilst talking.

The body language is positive.


Colleague leaning in to listen.

The body language is positive.


Colleagues talking and using hand gestures with relaxed and open palms.

The body language is positive.


Man crossing his arms tightly.

The body language is negative.


Woman shrugging her shoulders.

The body language is negative.


Man touching his face nervously.

The body language is negative.


Man fidgeting.

The body language is negative.


Woman rolling her eyes.

The body language is negative.


Man checking his watch in a meeting.

The body language is negative.


Woman with clenched fists.

The body language is negative.


Colleagues standing too close when talking.

The body language is negative.


Tips

In Australian workplaces, people generally do not have much physical contact. Physical contact is normally kept at a minimum. Intentions can be misunderstood when it comes to touching someone in the workplace, so be wary. Someone putting their hand on someone's shoulder may not be a cause of alarm in some cultures but, in Australia, some may see it as a sexual advance.