A lot of professionals spend time diligently improving their written/verbal and organizational work abilities and sometimes overlook or fail to realize the importance of one’s body language. A person’s body language speaks volumes about his or her character, confidence, personality and even communication skills. In “6 Things You Need To Know About Body Language,” Brad Phillips lists tips that individuals should be aware of when interacting with others.
1. Most people overestimate their energy level – Many individuals who work in career services have said that when conducting mock interviews, they frequently ask the interviewee how enthusiastic they felt during the course of the interview. Most respond that they felt a high level of enthusiasm, but unfortunately the interviewer rarely this high level of enthusiasm. For those who may be shy and reserved, try being a bit more energetic and personable. It is important to be enthusiastic about the position you’re interviewing for. Otherwise, the interviewer may feel as if you’re not excited about the position and you may not stand out among other applicants.
2. Stop thinking and look at me – This one is tough because in casual conversations it’s almost instinctual to look around when trying to gather one’s thoughts. However, in a professional setting or interview, holding eye contact is crucial. Lack of eye contact can signal nervousness or evasiveness. A good remedy to this habit is to maintain eye contact and take a brief pause to gather your thoughts before you begin to speak.
3. Gesturing makes your words better – The physical act of gesturing helps individuals form clearer thoughts and speak in tighter and more fluid sentences. I am a fan of gesturing and have found that it truly does help me convey my messages in a smooth and professional manner. I would caution to not overdo it though. It can become very distracting and may appear as if you can’t hold a conversation without frantically waving your arms. Use gesturing when appropriate.
4. When you’re defensive, you remember less – In a study done by Allan and Barbara Pease, authors of The Definitive Book of Body Language, they reported that by demonstrating a defensive body manner, you subsequently remember less. They analyzed a group of volunteers in a lecture room and the ones that sat with unfolded arms and legs remembered 38 percent more than others who sat with their legs and arms crossed. If you’re in a situation in which your audience exhibits defensive body language, hold off on relaying your point-of-view until their body language eases up.
5. Your feet point the way – This is a new and interesting tidbit of information. Your feet can subconsciously tell you where you want to go based on where they are pointing. If you’re ever in a situation where you may want to leave the conversation, look at your feet and you will normally find them pointing away from the person with whom you are speaking. The case can also be made for others in a conversation whose feet are pointing away. That may be a clear indication that they are not truly invested in the discussion.
6. If you smile, they smile – A smile truly goes a long way and it has the ability to make you seem personable and charming. It is also said that we subconsciously imitate the things we see. Therefore, if you smile, the person with whom you are speaking will reciprocate your gesture. This is an important trait to have because it has been found that audiences who smile and nod are more receptive to your ideas.
These are just a few tips to be mindful of when conversing with a professional, potential employer or even friend. Give them a try to see if people receive your messages better.