Did you know that there are six places not to put your hands in business? Truth be known, there are more than six places, but only six that we can talk about in polite conversation. I leave the rest to your imagination.
If you want to be perceived as a polished professional, you need to realize that your body language speaks louder than words. Be aware of where your hands are during business meetings and business meals. There are places where they do belong, and places where they do not.
From a business etiquette perspective, here are the six places not to put your hands in business:
- Above your neck. Don’t fiddle with your hair. That means no twirling your hair around with your fingers or running your hands through it. Keep your hands away from your face. The business meeting or meal is no place to rub your nose.
- In your pockets. There are lots of reasons for keeping your hands out of your pockets. First of all, it sends a message that you are ill at ease or lack confidence. On the other extreme, given the right—or should I say wrong—posture, hands in the pockets can make a person look arrogant. And as any tailor will tell you, having your hands in your pockets pulls down on your jacket, coat or dress and can ruin the line of a well-tailored outfit.
- Behind your back. Once again with your hands behind your back, you can look ill at ease. In some cultures people believe you are hiding something when you have your hands behind your back. Keep them in plain view.
- On your hips. This is definitely not a professional stance. It almost looks combative to stand with your hands on your hips. The next thing you know you’ll be pointing your finger at others.
- Under the table. Hands should be out in the open at business events. Historically this dates back to a time when men sat around negotiating for peace. No one trusted the person whose hands were under the table. So at business meetings and meals, keep them on the table. When you are dining, they should be resting on the table at the wrists. No arms and elbows, please.
- On other people. This does not require much explanation. Everyone should know that touching others has no place in business. If you are tempted to give someone a pat on the back, be sure that your actions will not be misunderstood.
Where you put your hands in business may seem unimportant, but it can be a deal-maker or a deal-breaker. Keep in mind the six places not to put your hands in business.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.