We often take for granted our office layout which is understandable, but another nonverbal channel also exists, and that is the artifacts it contains. While we might not personally pay particular attention to these objects, visitors will use the information to make decisions about your personality and traits. Diplomas, certificates and awards on walls all provide clues to the office owner. Excessive accolades spells out to others an outward looking individual seeking to dominant and dazzle others by their achievements (usually attributed to them by the opinions of others). Pay particular attention to awards that might be less than prestigious as this might mean they are poorly accomplished, but trying to play it up. Usually someone that is more subtle will only hold their highest award rather than all awards leading up to it. For example, I know of one particular aesthetician who has ten neatly framed awards on her salon walls for miniscule achievements during her one year study. In this sense, small accolades detract from a persons perceived status and shows insecurity instead.

Tidiness is another factor. A cluttered office shows busyness and importance, but only up to a certain limit. When hygiene becomes a factor, it’s time to clean up! An overly tidy office can show obsessive tendencies negating any positive feelings. Thus, a mixture of clutter and tidiness is likely best as it conveys busyness and importance but avoids the negative feelings of an overly sanitized office. Also consider richness of furnishings such as desks and chairs, the view (or having windows at all), the size and location, the type and level of lighting, degree of privacy, having plants and so forth. What research that does exist on lighting shows that brightness has a more positive affect on friendliness than does more subdued lighting. Also consider the ability or lack of ability to personalize a particular space. Lower ranking workers are often not permitted this luxury.

Personal items, like family or pet photographs shows a strong family orientation whereas artwork can provide clues to interests. For example, fishing or nature photographs for people interested in the outdoors and adventure, city backdrops to someone with a metropolitan interest, or beaches for those interested in leisure. Paying particular attention to these variations can provide clues to someone’s interests, and when building rapport quickly is required, it can spell the difference between success and failure.