Interviewers claim one of the most important influences in deciding who to recruit for a job is the candidates body language. For most interviewees, body language can be the difference between getting a job and remaining in the job market, yet most still don’t get it.
From the time of interview for the job, the importance of body language was ingrained in your mind. You learnt the basics and have since then tried to make a habit out of them. Despite all this, when you attend interviews everything you seemed to have practiced so well gets lost. The problem is not the use of body language but the correct use of body language which seems to elude a lot of people.
Same can be said, when you are in a meeting and about to close big deals. Or trying to sell a product or service to that customer you have been pursuing for ages.
People tend to go over board when communicating that it slips into their body language. Admittedly though, most of these exaggerated body languages are born of anxiety, tension or out of fear of being caught in a lie. When you’re anxious, your body is uneasy and it shows. Likewise when you are tense, you give off overly strong vibes. In trying to make people believe a lie, your body movements tend to be exaggerated.
The major source of miscommunication is usually inability to send a clear message which leads to misinterpreting the message sent. This is a major setback at work. Body language is the most commonly misinterpreted form of communication and seeing as it is a huge part of our work lives, we should do all that is in our power to get it down to the tee.
Studies have revealed there are four parts of your body that are critical to using body language to get you through difficult situations such as an interview. Interestingly, most of us know about the but still get it really wrong. Here they are;
Eye contact could work in your favor or against you depending on how you use it. Holding eye contact for long periods of time could be seen to be rude or challenging maybe even condescending.
On the other hand, holding eye contacts for too short periods or not at all tells a story of insincerity, inferiority, or unprepared. The ideal time to hold eye contact to show respect, interest and confidence is between 5-7 seconds; anything below or above that could send the wrong message.
Also note that the way you cut eye contact may also send the wrong message. Rather than abruptly cut eye contact, blink and keep you your face level with their face. Looking to the side is also better and stronger than looking down. Looking down is always a sign of weakness, defeat, or submission.
This is one of the most common body languages there is. The strength of your grip in a handshake says a lot. Basically, we know that a weak handshake connotes weakness. When your grip is too strong, it might be interpreted as a challenge or aggressiveness. That is why your handshake has to be the right measure of firm (not too weak, not too strong).
You should also learn to measure the strength you put in to every handshake based on the recipient of said handshake. Your grip on a male hand should definitely not be the same as your grip on a female hand. Either way; take a good look at the person and decide how firm your shake should be.
Avoid shaking people with sweaty hands. Apart from being unhygienic, it shows nervousness. Don’t wipe your hand where the recipient of your handshake can see either; that is rude.
Beyond the health implications of wrong sitting and standing postures, they send the wrong message about you. The way you sit or stand especially around people tells a lot about your feelings towards the people around or the topic of discussion. Learn to sit straight and avoid slouching.
Slouching shows disregard and in some cases disinterest. Don’t hunch your shoulders when standing either; it shows intimidation or fear. Stand tall, keeping your shoulders square and chin up. Standing with feet wide apart may show insubordination if you’re standing with your boss but shows a relaxed stance among colleagues.
Avoid crossing your arms in front of your body either when you are sitting or standing. It shows defensiveness. It may also indicate a close mind; it says you are not willing to consider what’s being said.
Gestures make discussions seem much more detailed but exaggerated gestures can kill the story. Just like with other body languages, too much can b just as bad as too little but no one at all is worse. The absence of gestures at all shows disinterest and lack of commitment.
The right gesticulation shows enthusiasm. When making gestures be careful and make sure that the gestures you make are not larger than the outside of your body as this symbolizes chaos. Exaggerated gestures are also known to be used when lying or stretching the truth.
Simple, controlled and open gestures show honesty, interest, commitment and authority. Try to keep your gestures simple. Control your arms and avoid exaggerated movements.
Tone your body language to the appropriate measure. Don’t overdo it. You are in charge of body and should control it. The right use of body language shows discipline. Let’s discipline our bodies to avoid being misinterpreted or misunderstood.