What is one physical gesture (hand gestures, etc.) that turns you off when meeting other businesspeople and why?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. No Eye Contact
When people look away from you during a conversation, it seems that they are trying to say many things to you. First subconscious things include: being uninterested in what you have to say, being unauthentic, or being distracted. Making eye contact can create that connection and strong first impression of sincerity.
2. Having Their Hands in Their Pockets
A person seems uninviting when their hands are firmly placed in their pockets. It seems too bothersome for most to ask for a handshake at that point, and it also demonstrates a lack of security about oneself. Smart business people would be better off stuffing their pockets with their phone, wallet and keys so they can’t possibly hide their fists there while out at a meeting or when networking.
3. Using Air Quotes
I can’t stand it when people make air quotes with their hands. It’s just not necessary in any context.
4. The Bro-hug
I understand why we bro-hug. It’s a compromise between a traditional handshake and a hug. There’s a time, a place and a relationship to bro-hug. And that time is not the first (or second or third) meeting. Don’t make the first move on the bro-hug. Don’t force it. Just let it happen naturally.
5. Looking at My Name Tag
Whenever I’m at an event and have a name tag on, I’m always turned off whenever someone’s eyes immediately dart to my title. It makes me wonder if they would still value me if my title were different.
6. Biting Their Nails
I don’t like it when I see people biting their nails. If I’ve shaken their hands, it makes me feel like I need to run to the restroom to wash up. Most people bite their nails without thinking, but it’s really a big turnoff when you’ve just met.
7. Touching Their Face
I get super turned off when people hold their hand to their face for an extended period of time. Is your head in your hands because I’m boring you? Are you covering your mouth because you’re about to snee– oh, wait, a minute later your hand is still there? Why exactly? Are you hiding something? Your subconscious hand-face activity is making me question why we are working together!
8. A Limp Handshake
You can’t be serious about us working together if you seal it with a limp handshake. There’s no reciprocation in that, and it gives a first impression of weakness and poor upbringing. There should be no variations on the handshake either — no multiple shakes or bringing it in for a hug. Eye contact, repeat the name and keep it firm, but not tight. So simple and so important.
9. Crossing Their Arms
The gesture makes an executive or senior manager look as if they are pouting or not happy with life. It also gives the impression of not being engaged, as if what you have to say is less than interesting. You want to convey a sense of openness — the arm cross says otherwise.
10. The Fist Bump
I am so sick of people trying to be overly playful by using a fist bump in networking situations. It always makes me feel like I’m in a frat house rather than a convention hall or a business meeting.
11. Looking at Their Phone
Unfortunately, FOMO extends to the business world as well. Nothing is quite as irksome as when a business contact finds it necessary to compulsively check their phone for texts or emails. My advice? Do them the courtesy of giving your complete attention. Leave your phone in your pocket where it belongs. You can always check your email later.
12. Getting Too Close
When I meet someone for the first time and they do not acknowledge personal boundaries to provide for some space in between us as we get to know one another on a professional level, it not only turns me off, but makes me feel very uncomfortable. It immediately makes me wonder how they would be in business dealings, and if they would overwhelm me by not giving me some space.
13. Ignoring Junior Team Members in Meetings
It’s always a red flag for me when I’m in a meeting with someone who ignores people around the table who he/she views as junior or subordinate. A good idea can come from anywhere, regardless of position or tenure. When I see someone treat others with disrespect, whether it’s very subtle or more overt, I’m immediately less interested in working with that person.