Body Language & Office Furniture: How Do They Relate?

How you sit at your desk, sit on your chair or hold your coffee cup are all body language signals you give co-workers, bosses and clients when at the office. Here is how you can use the office furniture to communicate confidence through your body language.

Power Poses

If you’re feeling nervous or anxious at the office, you should assume a power pose. No, it’s not a move your yoga teacher will call out in class, but a way of “owning” the space around you. Chemically, it will raise your testosterone hormone level (the dominance and security chemical) and lower your cortisol levels (the stress hormone). In the office, power poses integrate body language and office furniture. One power pose, feet up on desk, hands behind head, shows complete confidence and the absence of threats. Just assuming the position will boost your actual confidence if you feeling low.

If you’re too polite, or too low in the office hierarchy to put your feet on the desk and lean back, just try taking up some more space. Putting your hands on your hips with elbows out while widening your stance conveys a “large and in charge” image of confidence and competence. Like the previous power pose, this one also raises testosterone and lowers cortisol after as little as two minutes.

Sitting Pretty

Chairs are also props in how we communicate with our bodies. As open-concept offices grow in popularity, the backs of chairs have been rising to absorb background noise and to help us signal when we need privacy to concentrate and when we are open and available for conversation and collaboration.

Using your swivel chair to turn and face someone who addresses you, communicates not just that you can hear them, but that you are actively listening. Wheels that enable us to move closer to those we’re meeting with conveys how easily co-workers can come together when team work is required intellectually, not just in terms of physical space.

Mugging Comfort

In the cafeteria or office lounge, the more comfortable the person, the lower they hold their coffee mugs. When we are feeling uncomfortable in spaces or with specific people, we tend to hold objects like coffee cups or file folders, closer to our hearts. It creates a barrier, whether real or implied. When we’re at ease, we hold things closer to our waists, which are softer and more expansive.

If you’re the first to arrive for lunch, choosing the seat at the head of the table can actually make you seem distant and unapproachable. To maximize social contact and casual conversation with your co-workers, choose the seat to the immediate left of the head of the table or the furthest right from the head of the table. Those positions are important in the boardroom too. The same positions enable smoothest transfer of power and responsibility, assuming that the boss will be sitting at the head of the table.