by Connie Dieken

Jon & Kate Plus….You.

Nearly 10 million people tuned in for a record-shattering season premiere of Jon & Kate Plus 8 this week. I'll tie this to you in the workplace in a moment -- I promise there's a business communication connection. The tension was palpable as the bickering couple, caught up in the cheating chatter, came together for their sextuplets' fifth birthday party.

We're talking frozen tundra frosty. Ultra-chilly. These two were so cold, the cameras needed de-icing.

jon-kateJon and Kate scooched as far apart on the couch as possible, closed off to each other, sending undeniable signals that they're miserable and their relationship is on the rocks.

Despite trying to play nice for the cameras, their body language revealed that they're merely doing what they have to do to earn a paycheck. "Kate and I are going through some stuff," said a glum-looking Jon. You think?

That's where YOU come in. Are you going through some stuff in the workplace? Is there someone who gets under your skin and, despite your best intentions to hide your true feelings, your irritation or loathing is showing more than you want it to?

Your body talk sends messages that people decode. They size you up in seconds and draw conclusions about whether you're credible, likable, or trustworthy. Despite the words you choose, people are first influenced by "hearing" your body language. Before they'll believe your words, they must first buy into your body talk.

Here are a few body language tips from my upcoming Talk Less, Say More book to help you come across at your best:

  • Fight the urge to close yourself off. Your instinct is to move away from a person whom you secretly despise. Fight it. It won't be a secret if you point your body in the opposite direction. Remind yourself to unlock your arms, look at them with as much warmth as you can muster, and conquer your desire to ice, ice baby.
  • Avoid Code Red. Discover what specific situations or people trigger an elevated state of anxiety or anger and learn to manage your behavior during these situations. You can't control the other person's actions, so focus on managing your own. Don't damage your career by being the person who's known for giving someone else the cold shoulder or for crumbling under pressure. Don't just cope with the situation. Own it.
  • Keep it real. Gestures and movements are most effective when they're a natural extension of the feelings you're trying to express. But they will undercut your message it if they come across as forced, fake or harsh. Match your movements to the intensity you want to project and they'll work to your advantage.
  • Conquer your mannerisms. Unlike gestures that you do intentionally, mannerisms are the unconscious movements that you make, often in anxious situations - like touching your nose, twirling your hair or scratching your neck. Ask someone you trust to reveal your habitual mannerisms so you can be aware of them and control them when you're dealing with difficult people.
  • Don't stifle positive gestures. Some people mistakenly believe they talk with their hands too much. That's rare. If your arm movements distract from your words, then yes, they can be too much. But most gestures are heartfelt and congruent with your words so therefore, they help to improve your energy level. (Just don't gesture with a one-finger salute, of course!)

We can't love everyone we work with, so uncomfortable situations are bound to happen to you, either with co-workers or clients. Hopefully, there won't be TV cameras recording your every move for ten million people to judge. But in this age of Twitter, cell phones that videotape, and YouTube, you never know who'll be tuned in next....

Topics: Communication Skills :: Talk Less, Say More