10 Worst Body Language Mistakes

by Travis Bradberry

July, 2015

original article on Forbes.com

conference meeting

Our bodies have a language of their own, and their words aren’t always kind. Your body language has likely become an integral part of who you are, to the point where you might not even think about it. If that’s the case, it’s time to start, because you could be sabotaging your career.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). These people know the power that unspoken signals have in communication and they monitor their own body language accordingly.

What follows are the 10 most common body language blunders that people make, and emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid.

avoiding eye contact

Avoiding Eye Contact

When you don’t look someone in the eyes, it can signal deception or a lack of respect. Plus, this is what autistic people do.



Bad posture signals to others that you lack confidence and have poor self esteem or low energy levels.


Weak Handshake

A handshake that isn’t firm will signal a lack of authority. One that is too firm could make you seem overly aggressive.

arms folded

Folding Arms

This stance creates a sense of being closed off and may signal to others that you are disinterested in them or don’t buy into their message.

looking down

Looking Down

If giving a presentation, when you look down while making a point, it loses all of its power and can may you look weak. In everyday interactions, it can make you look uncomfortable or self-conscious.

angling away

Angling Body Away From Others

Too much physical distance, angling the body away from the person you’re speaking with or not leaning into a conversation shows that you are uncomfortable, distrustful or disinterested in the subject.

biting nails

Fidgeting And Touching Hair

Fidgeting and playing with hair or clothes can reveal an excess of energy, which signals discomfort or anxiety.

invading space

Invading Others’ Space

When you are closer than 1.5 feet away from a colleague or you treat their possessions and office space as if it were your own, it signals disrespect and that you don’t have a clear understanding of personal boundaries.

watching the clock

Glancing At The Clock

Glancing at the clock or at your watch or even looking past a person who you’re speaking with will communicate disinterest or arrogance.


Frowning Or Scowling

Scowls and frowns, often unintentional and unconscious, communicate unhappiness and disagreement.