We’ve all heard the saying “Silence is Golden” but what if it isn’t? When it comes to nonverbal communication, we speak volumes without ever saying a word; in job interviews and career development, sending the wrong message can be a deal breaker before there’s even an offer on the table. By investing a bit of time and energy into gaining an awareness and understanding of the things your body is saying for you, you can ensure you are that much closer to the career of your dreams. And although nonverbal skills (yes, they are skills!) can take a lifetime to master, here are a few tips to get you started on the right track.
The Eyes Have It
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, avoiding eye contact with others sends the message that you are hiding something. Even if you are just shy or nervous, do your best to hold your head up high (that “hangdog” look does not scream “confident”) and maintain eye contact for at least three seconds when you meet someone. Be aware of that timing, though, because confident and self-assured can turn into aggressive and even creepy pretty quickly. Thereafter, make a conscious effort to look into someone’s eyes when they speak to you and when you respond to any questions.
Service with a Smile
As much as I wish they were sometimes, people are not mind-readers. They interpret what’s going on in our heads based on the looks on our faces. Make every effort to avoid misperception by making a conscious effort to smile. It will do you – and your relationships, business or otherwise – a world of good.
Do you know anyone who “lights up the room” with their smile? Doesn’t it immediately make you want to like them and make you feel better? What about when you’re on the phone and you can just tell that the person on the other end of the line is smiling? It’s true! We use different facial muscles when we smile; exercising these muscles not only makes us more attractive, but it also causes a change in our tone of voice. So give it a shot the next time you walk into a room full of colleagues – by lifting the corners of our mouths, we also lift our spirits and the spirits of those around us.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
We all know how awful the “dead fish” handshake is, so, first, don’t be that guy! Perhaps more importantly, recognize that having a good, strong handshake conveys so much more than social courtesy (or rather, your awareness that nobody likes a limp handshake). Allow me to explain.
A firm handshake conveys a sense of confidence in oneself and instills a sense of trust in the person on the receiving end. She knows that she can depend on you to represent her in a positive way, no matter the situation. It’s not about being strong; it’s about revealing strength: strength of character.
Since nonverbal signals form the basis for over 90% of a first impression, make sure you are sending the right kinds of signs to those with whom you want to develop business relationships. Believe me, they, and your career, will thank you for it!
What are some of the things you have seen others do that put you off even though they never said a word? Have you observed nonverbal actions that resonated with you in a positive way?
This post was written by Erin Schwartz who manages marketing programs for 123Print.com, a leading provider of high quality customizable items like business cards, address labels, postcards, and other promotional printing materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.
I wish you career success!
Ramon Greenwood, The Career Coach