In the hospitality industry, your staff comes into contact with your customers every single day.
How your team handles customer interaction is incredibly important, and can have a direct impact on your reputation, brand, and bottom line.
You can teach your hires a great deal through training programs and documented systems. But your employees can still run into unfamiliar situations because of what they don’t know.
It has often been said that words only account for 7% of communication. Truth or fiction aside, this stat points to the notion that it isn’t just what you say as much as it is how you say it, and that includes how you say it with your body.
Body language can say a lot about what a person is thinking and how they’re feeling. That’s why certain body language signals should be avoided.
Crossing Your Arms
Crossing your arms can make you look defensive. It can also make you appear closed, or even aggressive.
Your guests come to you with questions. When they do, what is your body communicating? Do you appear confident and assured, or do you appear defensive and unsure?
Even when you know the answer to a question, if your body language isn’t congruent, guests may walk away with something not intended. This can lead to miscommunication and confusion.
When possible, you want to reassure your guests that you can provide them with the right information, and if you avoid crossing your arms, you should be more successful in your interactions.
In addition to crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, constantly checking the time, or not making eye contact can communicate inattentiveness.
Exaggerated Mannerisms & Gestures
If your mannerisms are exaggerated, your guests may assume you’re stretching the truth. It may also communicate that you are in a state of frenzy and not calm and collected.
While you can still gesture as you speak, exaggerated gestures could be off-putting for your guests and will not communicate confidence. Similarly, a good, firm handshake is acceptable, but an overly intense handshake should be avoided.
Slouching and hunching over can make you look inattentive, tired, and disinterested. By contrast, standing or sitting tall will make you look more confident and attentive.
Bad posture essentially communicates that you don’t care about your work. Your guests will assume they can’t get worthwhile answers from you and may not bring their questions to you if you appear to be slouching.
Fidgeting can easily become a habit. Unfortunately, it won’t do you any favors in the body language department. It typically communicates nervousness and powerlessness.
You don’t need to be rigid in how you hold yourself, but if you’re calm and standing tall, generally people will see you as being warmer and more inviting.
Frowning or forgetting to smile can leave your guests uncomfortable and nervous around you. It depends on the expression on your face, but if in doubt, smiling is generally the best option.
Smiling shows that you are confident, warm, and open. People usually like to talk to someone who appears friendly, given a choice.
Body language can be subtle, and isn’t always a major obstacle in business. But it’s still a good idea to be aware of how you’re presenting yourself. Becoming mindful of your body language can help you correct bad habits and project a more confident, friendlier self to your customers.
Avoiding the above body language signals can help you better serve your guests, although there are certainly other signals to be aware of. You may even consider making body language a module in your training program, or offer your employees courses on how to conduct themselves professionally, especially when interacting with guests.