Experts say body language is critical in workplace environment

Could your body language be holding you back at work?

DETROIT – Body language is about nonverbal communication, and according to experts, 90 percent of the messages people send each other don't involve spoken words.

As children get older, their verbal skills improve, but even as adults, people send most messages without, or sometimes in spite of, words.

Dr. Janette Gadotty specializes in body language, and she said action speaks louder than words.

A group of young entrepreneurs in Detroit demonstrated body language behaviors that can hold people back, give them an edge or help them understand their coworkers. For example, when someone in a meeting takes up more than their share of space, it means they're an alpha.

The opposite is shrinking, when someone takes up less space. That can render a person invisible to peers or bosses. If a listener folds their arms during a presentation, it can create a barrier and show that the listener isn't buying into what's going on.

In the workplace, relationships are often about power. Someone can take a passive posture by crossing their ankles and tilting their head while listening intently, or adapt a more powerful position by putting their legs down and leaning in.

Handshakes speak volumes, as they present a first and often lasting impression. A firm, friendly handshake establishes confidence. At the far end of the spectrum, the handshake becomes a social weapon to establish control.

Gadotty said the key to positive body language is energy and confidence. Even if you don't have it, fake it until you make it, she said.

You can watch Steve Garagiola's full story in the video posted above.

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