Book Excerpt: Your Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words
Daisy Wright | Tell Stories, Get Hired
Innovative Strategies to Land Your Next Job and Advance Your Career
Paperback / PDF Book | #TSGH #tellstoriesgethired
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet
How many times have you heard that “actions speak louder than words?” It is true. Our thoughts and feelings, and the messages we send through non-verbal body language, tell a more authentic story than the words we speak. Body language consists of non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, eye movements, gestures and posture.
People are good at interpreting our body language. Is our smile one of happiness or disapproval? Do we show interest with our eyes or do we roll them in disgust? Do we lean forward to demonstrate interest and acceptance or do we slump to show discouragement? When it comes to gestures, do we nod our heads to show approval and agreement, or do we tap our fingers to show boredom or impatience? All these expressions have an impact on how we are viewed by people. One of the biggest determinants to job search success is how we communicate. The communication mistake that many people make is to focus mostly on our ability to talk and write, forgetting that non-verbal communication makes up approximately 93 per cent of how we communicate. Body language experts say that when we are communicating face-to-face, seven per cent is based on what we say and 93 per cent is based on our non-verbal communication – our attitude and appearance. When broken down further, 55 per cent is based on what people see and 38 per cent is based on our tone of voice. When we are communicating through the telephone, 70 per cent is based on our tone of voice while 30 per cent is based on our words. These are very important statistics to keep in mind when we meet people and, contrary to the saying “never judge a book by its cover”, it doesn’t work that way all the time. We are judged by “our covers” long before we get an opportunity to confirm or disprove people’s first impressions. Therefore, in preparing for interviews or other meetings, make sure you have a good understanding of what your body language is saying.
Facial expression: Every now and again, take a look in the mirror to see the expression on your face while you are relaxing. Are you happy with your appearance? Is your face smiling back at you? An interviewer will be looking in your face to see your reaction and response to questions. Even if you mask your answer, your face will still show it. Put on a genuine smile. There’s a popular quote that reads “a smile is a curve that keeps things straight”. You want to keep things straight during and after the interview.
Eye contact: Are you in the habit of looking the other way when speaking with people? In some cultures it is considered rude to look a person in authority in the face. However, in North America, it’s different. If you want to score points with the interviewer, make sure you maintain eye contact. This shows them that you are confident and honest, and that you have nothing to hide. Maintaining eye contact does not mean you should stare at the individual either, because that may lead them to believe that you are hostile.
Handshake: In business, the official way to greet people is with a handshake. How is yours? Is it firm, and does it convey confidence and respect? Is it limp like wet noodles or hard like a knuckle cracker? No one wants to shake hands with someone who barely offers the tips of the fingers or someone attempting to crush their finger bones.
Seating: Never take a seat until you are invited to do so. Once seated, make sure to sit upright, but in a relaxed manner. Do not slouch nor sit on the edge of the chair. This will give the impression that you are nervous and lack confidence.
Hand gestures: “Watch your hands, watch your hands, where they go!” That may be a catchy phrase from kindergarten, but it is quite applicable in the world of business. Sit with your hands in your lap to appear calm and confident, but never cross them in front of your chest. This gives the impression that you are distant, cold and defensive. It’s all right to use hand gestures to help bring your point across, as long as it is not distracting and aggressive.
Feet and legs: Place your feet flat on the floor. If you have to cross your legs, do so at the ankles under the desk where no one will see. If you sit with your ankle on your knee you will appear too casual and this could hurt your chances in the interview.
Excerpt from “Tell Stories, Get Hired”