Have you ever been in a situation where someone is verbally saying ‘yes’ but their actions are saying ‘no’? Non-verbal communication is used to reinforce what they’re saying, however, we may not always be aware that our body language is saying something different than our words. What we communicate through body language and nonverbal signals affects how we are perceived by others. It also impacts how well we are respected, trusted, and how credible we appear.
We have all heard the popular saying, “actions speak louder than words”. Body language greatly impacts how we communicate and reflects on our credibility as a person and as a professional. Recall a time when you met someone new at work. Did you sense confidence? Did they seem approachable? The most approachable and credible individuals usually project confidence. They are standing up tall, making eye contact, speaking clearly, and smiling.
Body language includes our posture, muscle tension, eye contact, hand gestures, and facial expressions. The way we walk, sit, and stand all say something about us. Whatever is happening internally is usually reflected externally. Tone of voice, rate of speech, and voice pitch should also be considered. By developing awareness and monitoring weaknesses in our body language we can put ourselves in a better position to improve upon our communication and credibility.
Here are a few tips regarding your non-verbal communication in an interview:
Physical Distance: When standing near someone, about three feet of distance is standard. You do not want to make the interviewer feel like you are in their personal space but want to be close enough to shake their hand and have a normal conversation.
Handshake: A firm handshake is considered a sign of confidence and respect. You want to stand out and show the interviewer that you mean business.
Posture: When sitting in a chair, sit up straight or lean forward slightly. Do not slouch. If you cross your legs, make sure one knee is stacked on top of the other or cross your ankles. Do not put one foot on top of your other knee.
Arms and Hands: Limit the amount of movement that you use when “talking with your hands”. It can be distracting to your interviewer. Additionally, nervous habits such as fidgeting and playing with your hair or pen shows signs that you are lacking confidence. Remember, confidence is key. Sitting with your arms crossed in front of you may look defensive. Instead, relax your arms and place them in your lap.
Eye Contact: Look your interviewer in the eyes. Looking down or away frequently gives an impression that you are not confident or not interested. Act natural, do not stare at the interviewer the whole interview; just look them in the eye as much as possible.
Facial Expressions: Smiling shows that you are friendly and enthusiastic about the position. Smile at the beginning and end of the interview but do not over do it. Smiling the entire interview may give an impression that you are not serious. Relax and smile at appropriate moments.