You walk into your boss’ office. He sits behind his desk and you sit in front of it, directly across from your boss. In that moment, how do you feel?
For many of us who have found ourselves in that setting, we remember feeling uncomfortable or maybe even intimidated. But why?
Proxemics is the study of the space around us. Believe it or not, how you use space communicates something to those around you. Including seating arrangements.
For the past few years, I have tried to consider what the chair in which I choose to sit around my conference table is communicating to the other person, especially during a one-on-one meeting.
Before your next one-on-one meeting, consider the tone you want to communicate. Below are three common tones and how to communicate it through your seating arrangement.
- Casual. If you want to create an environment where the other person feels comfortable, sit diagonal from them. If you are at a table, have one of you sit at the head of the table and the other to the immediate left or right on the side.
- Collaborative. If you want to communicate a sense of cooperation, sit on the same side of the table. This takes away any barrier between the both of you. Make sure that the chairs are not directly facing one another, but at angled slightly toward one another.
- Serious. If the meeting needs a weighty tone, sit on either side of the table, directly across from the other person. This not only places a barrier between the two of you, but also forces the other individual to look at you and only you.
You are always communicating. And something as simple as where you sit in relation to another person in a meeting is speaking to them.
Make sure you are communicating what you intend to communicate. Strengthen the message you intend to communicate in one-on-one meeting by simply choosing the right seat.