15 Habits That Could Be Hurting Your Business Relationships

06/06/2017 09:21 am ET Updated Jun 06, 2017

While everyone wants to appear confident and capable, odd verbal tics and off-putting body language can jeopardize your chances of establishing or maintaining business relationships. So what habits should you ditch?

A. Looking at Your Phone

All of us are probably guilty of looking down at our phones a time or two during a conversation. But it’s important to break this habit if you want to show your clients and colleagues that you really care about them. It’s hard to convey your investment in a conversation if you’re glancing at your phone every 30 seconds. Always be sure to give people your undivided attention. - Justin LefkovitchMirrored Media

A. Being in Your Head

Get out of your own head and listen and look. Be in the conversation and present. You never know what subconscious signals you are giving when you are not in the moment and looking and listening to the person you are conversing with. I am always tracking their body language and often times imitate it, as they then feel more relatable and comfortable with you. - Bryanne LawlessBLND Public Relations

A. Cursing

This didn’t use to be an issue, but many millennials I hire have less restricted speech than most people in the office were raised with. We’re way past the age where you couldn’t even say “crap” on television, but I still think some younger employees are too casual with cursing in their everyday conversations. At the very least, a stronger filter is needed for business situations. - Matt DoyleExcel Builders

A. Fidgeting

I see a lot of people who unknowingly fidget with their hands ― I used to do it myself! People might not want to do business with someone who comes across as nervous or lacking confidence. A good tactic is to consciously make an effort to casually keep one hand on top of the other, resting in your lap or on the table when other people are speaking. - Diana GoodwinAquaMobile

A. Misusing Eye Contact

Genuine eye contact is the strongest key to any in-person business relationship. It’s OK to glance away while in conversation. Actually, we may seem obsessive if we don’t glance away periodically. But I often see service or sales persons visually track another person while in conversation. Be conscious that your eyes are mostly with the person you are actually talking to, and genuinely connect. - Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

A. Interrupting

Interrupting someone is like metaphorically punching them in the gut. Let people speak and have their two cents before you interject. When I am interrupted repeatedly by the same person, I think to myself that this guy doesn’t care what I have to say and only wants to hear himself talk. As a consequence, I never do business with those types of people, because I don’t feel comfortable with them. - Ben WalkerTranscription Outsourcing, LLC

A. Speaking With Slang

It’s better to stick to professional verbiage instead of the “yeahs” and other slang words that have snuck into our daily conversations. Save those for friends and some colleagues. It is too casual and may offend some of your business relationships, or they may not think you are professional enough to work with. - Murray NewlandsSighted

A. Speaking Too Formally

I’ve gone to meetings with people who thought they were leaving a good impression by having a “white tie” attitude and speaking as formally and professionally as possible. It’s never been an effective strategy. You may be concerned about looking as professional as possible, but you can be professional without making things stuffy or losing your personality. - Adam SteeleThe Magistrate

A. Showing Negative Facial Expressions

Keep eye rolling, sneering and boredom off your face when interacting with others. No matter how a person may make you feel or how you despise a situation, it’s the business relationship that comes first, so you must be professional and block this negativity from your body language. - Angela RuthDue

A. Using Filler Words

It’s easy to get nervous and turn a conversation into a bunch of words that are interrupted with “umms” in-between each one. However, it detracts from your message and impression that you are trying to make. Stop and think before you speak to avoid these horrible conversation interjections. - Zach BinderIpseity, Inc

A. Having Bad Posture

Posture is everything. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, slouching can really give off the wrong impression. Sitting up straight shows attentiveness, confidence and even makes you appear taller. Slouching or leaning back suggests boredom, which is one impression that you do not want to give off to clients or other business professionals! - Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

A. Beating Around the Bush

Be careful not to talk around an issue. Whether giving feedback, pitching an idea or sharing an opinion, it shows respect to the other person to be direct and confident. - Douglas BaldasareChargeItSpot

A. Offering a Poor Handshake

A strong professional handshake is important in making a strong first impression. Make sure that your handshake is neither too weak nor too strong, but rather firm and balanced. A poor handshake indicates a lack of interest and professionalism. Practice giving a good handshake with friends and colleagues. - Adelyn ZhouTOPBOTS

A. Frequently Crossing Your Legs or Arms

Crossing either your arms or legs during a meeting or discussion is a clear indication that you are on the defensive. It demonstrates a lack of openness to ideas and can potentially intimidate a client or business associate. It might be useful to use a bit in a sales negotiation, but in typical collaborations, crossing should be avoided. - Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

A. Ending a Sentence With a Rising Pitch

Many otherwise capable people end their sentences with a rising pitch rather than a lowered one. This sends the (often subconscious) message that you’re not confident or that you’re questioning what you say (we raise our pitch at the ends of questions). Speak slower and with a lowered tone at the end in order to sound confident and final. - Brennan WhiteCortex

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

CONVERSATIONS