Interview Skills

Body Language – Signals to Success

Many people fail to understand that in addition to the languages we speak from our mouth, there’s another language that we use to communicate – body language. Our body language becomes an integral part of our communication at work and who we are, to the point where we might not realize or think about it.

The other day when I was interviewing candidates for a position in my organization, I came across a young, smart looking gentleman who had come for the interview. Right from the minute I set my eyes on him I could sense negative vibes emanating from him. While shaking hands too I could sense his insincerity. During the interview, while answering questions he would first look here and there and then close his responses with a long, piercing eye contact similar to X rays which made me cringe and feel uncomfortable. Little did he realize the negative signals he was sending me. My hunch was corroborated when he spoke negatively about his previous assignments and criticized his past companies/clients/colleagues for everything that he couldn’t achieve in his career.

Our bodies have a language of their own, and if their words aren’t always honest and kind this could sabotage your workplace relationships and career.

Of course the candidate was not selected!

At our work a majority of our time every day is spent dealing with people, meaning we are constantly communicating, whether we are aware of it or not. We send out unspoken signals that other people interpret, and this can either help or hinder our success. This is why it is important to always monitor body language.

The role of body language during a job interview can largely dictate whether you will be successful in your job pursuit or not. The Mehrabian Model of Communication states that in a face to face communication 55% of the communication happens with body language, 38% with tone of voice, and 7% with the actual words spoken.

Our body language determines how people perceive us. Research has proved that our colleagues, boss or recruiter form a perception of our ‘trustworthiness’, ‘competence’, ‘confidence’ and a lot many things about our personality on the basis of signals our body sends them. Our nonverbal cues and gestures can make or break relationships, and may have a significant impact on our success. Excellent nonverbal communication skills tell your audience that you're confident, energetic, engaged, and honest.

A handshake, whether good or bad, has a chemical impact, capable of leaving a long-term memory in your brain. You may still remember the unpleasant awkwardness of a bad handshake and who you shared this awkward greeting with and these negative emotions become associated with the person you were greeting.

One of my ex bosses would say, "That sounds great" in a monotone voice, while crossing his arms and rolling his eyes. This is the worst communication mistake any professional can make. Imagine the kind of negative influence or mixed feelings of motivation/demotivation it would have on the team.

Even something as small as a smile or a nod can have large effects on our emotional reactions; a smile that is spontaneous and natural will send signs of warmth, curiosity and openness. Successful leaders use body language to encourage and support those they supervise. Furthermore, a leader’s body language may show others that they are approachable.

Body language can have a large impact on our thoughts and feelings, and that includes how we feel at work. It gives us insights into people’s attitude and emotions and the more we understand our colleagues’ and clients’ attitude and emotions, more options it gives us to how to handle them. And it’s not a secret anymore that the better we handle people and situations the more progress we make in our career.

Body language is a powerful tool that can change how people see you and that can affect your success in either a positive or negative way. We can all adopt a few simple habits to make our body language friendlier at work: smile, don’t stand over people, don’t adopt gestures of disinterest when your co-workers are talking to you and feel free to nod to show you’re receiving information in a positive manner.

Using good body language like making eye contact, good posture, and using gestures the correct way can help you in a variety of situations, such as job interviews, presentations, and making friends at work. Good body language can be practiced and mastered and can help you enjoy great success in both your personal and professional life.

21 January 2018 Posted by: Sunita P (Sr Trainer)