What Your Body Language Is Telling Your Coworkers; Sometimes It's Subtly Sexual

What Your Body Language Is Telling Your Coworkers; Sometimes It's Subtly Sexual

Let's break down Kellyanne Conway's feet on the Oval Office couch.

By Marianne Garvey
Digital Original
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Nonverbal communication at work can affect your earnings and your job status. Bad posture, inappropriate eye contact, weak handshakes, twirling your hair, and storming around all signal you are either nervous, angry, or not happy — and employers pick up on your cues.

Experts advise to make eye contact, give a good handshake, uncross your arms, stop fidgeting, and, yes, sit up straight.

Which is why Kellyanne Conway's casual attitude displayed during an important Oval Office is causing outrage. But why?

On Monday night, a photo showing the White House counselor perched on a couch in the Oval Office as President Trump stands behind his desk with representatives from a number of historically black colleges and universities gathered around him went viral.

Instead of standing with the group, Kellyanne, peeping at her phone, looked how Olivia Pope does after a long day of spin—plush couch, feet up, all she needs is a glass of wine. But she kept her shoes on.

So why are people furious? Because many of them wouldn't dream of behaving that way at work. Especially in such an important position. Some say she is disrespecting the Oval Office. Others say she feels she can get away with anything because her boss likes her, yet others say she was dismissing the group visiting by acting so casual. Some reports say she was snapping her own photo of the group and that was the best angle.

And just FYI, President Barack Obama has been pictured with his feet up on the Oval Office’s Resolute desk and people didn't go mental, but then again he was the president.

"I have so many questions about this photo, but chief among them is why nobody is telling Kellyanne Conway to get her damn feet off the couch," Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke tweeted.

"I'm less bothered by Kellyanne's feet on the sofa than I am by her choice to be so incredibly unprofessional in a room full of HBCU leaders," said one tweeter.

"If Kellyanne Conway's feet on a couch is the worst thing that happens to you, might I suggest helping at a food bank to see real life [problems]," read one tweet.

Top body language expert Patti Wood, who has extensively trained employees in government office etiquette, tells Personal Space& there actually is a lot of meaning behind the picture, and that yes, it is a big deal.

“It can be seen as sexual,” Patti says. “And it’s not a respectful seating position to honor the Oval Office, but this is not an administration that follows the rules.”

According to Patti, it breaks several etiquette rules. “When other people are standing and there aren’t enough seats you don’t sit,” she says. “And no one is on the phone and she’s on her phone, it’s interesting.”

Patti adds that Kellyanne sitting on her feet in the photo, “which you don’t do in a formal setting,” is also problematic.

“She’s saying, ‘I’m not like anyone else. I can break the rules,'” Patti says. “And it’s slightly sexual. She’s not wearing pants, she’s in a skirt that allows more viewing — again, rule breaking," Patti notes, before adding that if a woman sits on her feet, she usually brings her legs together. “I don’t think I’ve seen this in an adult woman before in a business context. There’s a subtle sexuality to it, like she sees herself as a sexual woman. It’s quite an interesting choice.”

Patti says Kellyanne also gives off the impression that she feels like her role in the administration is separate from anyone in that room. “She’s not aligned with the other people in the room — that’s interesting. She’s saying by being on the phone that 'other people not in this room are more important than you.' Some people say not a big deal, but I think it’s a huge deal. In this context, it takes away some of the honor of the White House.”

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