No one wants to attract attention for appearing stupid. It’s not something to strive for.
The worst part is that these are very common human traits we’re all prone to. The key to avoiding them, though, is self-awareness. With just a few simple tweaks to your social habits, you can make yourself look sharper and more competent in no time.
Dressing Down in Professional Situations or Important Events
If you don’t have a lock on your sense of style, it can hurt you: a 2014 study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology put 128 men of diverse age and backgrounds through simulated business negotiations. The big reveal? Those who wore suits were perceived as more professional and assertive. Those in casual attire were more unsure in their delivery and failed to attract similar respect from their peers.
Leadership Coach and Body Language Expert Carol Kinsey Goman says slouching causes those around you to see you in a less than flattering light, because it “looks like you have no energy and confidence, that you’re not as smart because you’re not sitting up.”
Goman also adds that this is another issue that can negatively affect how women are viewed in the workplace.
Excessive Nodding and Head Tilts
Goman notes this can be an issue that especially undermines women’s confidence. One example is head tilting, which is fine in small doses, but when excessively denotes submissiveness.
Goman adds that excessive head nodding is also a no-no: “It’s a nonverbal cue that says ‘I’m listening,’ … but women tend to nod our heads like little bobblehead dolls. …It just looks like we’re agreeing with everything. Because men tend to nod only when they agree, but we nod to encourage someone to keep speaking. …So that makes us look like we’re agreeing with everything and don’t have an idea of our own.”
Communications success strategist and body communication expert Sharon Sayler notes other things to avoid: repeatedly looking down makes others view us as shy, while continually looking up can make us appear aloof and arrogant. She offers a simple fix: “Always keep your chin parallel to the ground.”
Misusing Words and Phrases (and Verbal Pauses)
And it’s not just misusing fancy words that can make us look stupid, but common words and phrases as well.
Another way words can backfire is the verbal pause. Sayler says the excessive injection of “uh,” “ah”, “you know,” and “basically” all undermine our authority, but it a common error: “I’ve been to corporations where the majority of people there use the word ‘basically,’ … they don’t realize that it’s not used in common everyday language in the business world, and it makes them look less than intelligent.”
Language Softeners and “Outsourcing Success”
She also adds that these type of statements “minimize what you say next. …It makes you look less intelligent.”
Having said that, she warns to avoid excessive mouth breathing, which is also denoted as a sign of lower intelligence.
Being Overly Judgmental
Gossiping makes you untrustworthy. A lack of compassion is often seen in tandem with a lack of intelligence. Lacking the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes generally means you’re oblivious to your own faults.
Using Profanity At Work
This is the biggest no-brainer on the list. We realize the occasional on the job curse word is pretty inevitable. And it can defuse tension at the office and take the air out of the situation. But excessive cursing is still perceived by many as lacking in class.
Keeping all these pointers in mind will make your daily interactions far more positive and beneficial in your life, both personally and professionally.
*Originally published on Healthy Way.