What Your Desk Says About Your Personality

What your desk says about you. ....A body language experts read.

Joanne Richard, Sun Media

Well, you can kiss that promotion goodbye -- thanks to that tacky Trailer Park Boys calendar hanging front and centre in your workspace.

Call it career death by décor.

"Put up a suggestive or tasteless calendar and you're looking to be fired. You're a risk-taker who wants to be seen as on the edge -- and you could find yourself pushed off!" says Patti Wood, an Atlanta communications and behaviour expert.

According to Wood, personal items displayed at work convey messages and, like it or not, judgments are made about you based on your taste -- or lack of.

Objects speak loud and clear, says Wood, and often provide clues to an employee's personality and level of commitment.

Toronto image and communications specialist, Roz Usheroff, says workplace accessories "define who you are; they're an extension of your image. Conveying a sense of professionalism is of the utmost importance -- that's if you want to be taken seriously."

She recommends accessorizing with a few "items that define you, like a hobby such as golf or fishing, that allows for small talk and a point of reference -- nothing inappropriate or overdone. You need to show a sense of humour, approachability and warmth."

Adeodata Czink doesn't agree. "Why do you need props? Are you not there to work?" asks Czink, a Toronto etiquette expert and president of Business of Manners.

Check out your workplace style and what it says about you, according to our experts:

Messy! Cluttered but creative, says Usheroff, of The Usheroff Institute in Toronto. "These people can be very innovative types."
According to Wood, a pristine work area may indicate a less approachable type who considers work to be work -- forget the socializing. And don't ask questions; their personal life is just that -- personal. They work well, effectively, efficiently and may have aspirations to move up the corporate ladder. Colleagues socializing and taking personal calls on company time easily annoy them.

Wood also adds that an absence of personal items altogether may indicate lack of permanency -- less to pack when it's time to move on. They may also be secretive; "it could reveal they were fired in past jobs and they don't trust they'll be there long."

Get stuffed. If cutesy figurines, kids' artwork, and a few cuddly stuffed bears adorn the work area, this indicates a warm and fuzzy kind of person who has no problem showing their emotions; self-disclosure comes easily, says Wood. Spending time with friends and family rates high on their priority list.

It's a bird! Superhero action figures or calendar, and goofy, techie toys reveal a good problem solver who's a big kid inside. "They're more left-brain oriented and love to show how smart they are -- if you're in the market for a new TV, computer or camcorder, be sure to seek out their advice," says Wood.

I've got kids! Family photos in very obvious places -- especially at the right of your computer screen -- reveal that family and relationships matter. "It's what make this person happy and it's the most important thing to them," says Wood.

Not necessarily so, adds Czink: "Lots of men put a family picture on their desk or in the room at the window so that others should see what a committed family man he is. I carry my children's picture in my soul, and don't need to have them on my desk."

Sitting pretty. What do you see first -- their back or their face? Sitting with your back to the door indicates you're there to work and don't appreciate interruptions; facing or sitting sideways to the door is a sign of welcome, adds Wood.

"Never close your door," warns Usheroff. "Psychologically, you're putting a wall up; you're signalling you're not approachable."


Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at http://PattiWood.net. Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.