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5 mistakes not to make during your next in-person work meeting during the return to office, according to career experts

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Key Points
  • There are a few "don'ts" to keep in mind if you want to seem like a cooperative colleague, experts say.
  • "You may be eager to chime in with your two cents, but don't let your enthusiasm cause you to interrupt or talk over your colleagues."

Return-to-office plans are underway, which means you might have to start attending in-person meetings — including some with co-workers you haven't even met yet. As you and your coworkers meet together in real life for the first time in a long time, career experts say there are things it's smart to avoid, to make a good impression.

One, backed up by a recent study: Leave your status symbol clothing at home.

If you wear luxury name-brand apparel to work you can be seen as more uncooperative and more self-involved, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

In one of the experiments, 395 participants were asked to evaluate social media profiles to find cooperative, selfless, and generous people to join their community. Profiles with status-signaling posts were unlikely to be recommended to join the community.

In another experiment, 1,345 participants were asked to create their own social media profile that was to be judged by other who were deciding whether they wanted them in their community. Participants who wanted to appear like a cooperative team player were less likely to wear luxury clothes in their profile picture.

If you're trying to seem like a teammate that others want to work with, there are a few additional don'ts, career experts say. Here are four more mistakes not to make during your next work meeting.

Don't slump

Negative body language can send the message you are uninterested in the meeting or unable to be a team player, say Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume. "If you're slumped back in your chair, your coworkers may interpret your posture as a sign that you're either not paying attention or not taking them seriously."

Constantly twirling your hair or tapping your finger can make you look bored.

Even if your meetings aren't in person, you want to signal you're open and engaged. "Avoid crossing your arms while seated at a table or in front of your monitor for Zoom meetings, as this gesture can make you appear defensive or guarded," she says.

Don't show up late

If you're late once in a while, this likely won't affect you co-workers' impressions of you. However, don't make it a habit.

"If you are consistently showing up to meetings late, or missing them altogether, then you're sending one of two signals to your colleagues: You either can't be bothered to show up on time, or you're incapable of effectively managing your calendar," Augustine says. "Neither of these assumptions will help you in the workplace."

If you're slumped back in your chair, your coworkers may interpret your posture as a sign that you're either not paying attention or not taking them seriously.
Amanda Augustine
career expert for TopResume

Don't interrupt

Although participating in meetings is important and you want to look like you're engaged with what is happening, you don't want to do so at the expense of your co-workers.

"You may be eager to chime in with your two cents, but don't let your enthusiasm cause you to interrupt or talk over your colleagues," she says. "If you're afraid you'll forget your point, write it down and look for the right time to share your thoughts."

Don't come unprepared

The "worst" thing you can do at a meeting is come unprepared, says Akhila Satish, CEO of consulting company Meseekna.

"If your colleagues have put the effort into creating an agenda or notes to present, make sure you've at least familiarized yourself with the content beforehand," she says. "Even better, take some notes or plan out questions you'd like to ask during the meeting."

Showing up frazzled or tired might send the signal you are uninterested in what others are saying.

"I always suggest spacing out your meetings and prioritizing breaks into your schedule when possible," she says. "Having a few minutes to refresh your notes and put on your game face will make a huge difference in how you present yourself in the conversation."

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