CAREER COACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: Body Language
Body language speaks volumes. Visual cues can convey powerful statements. Non-verbal cues can often be stronger than verbal cues – remember the 55/38/7 communication rule – 55% is how you appear including visual cues; 38% is how you sound including voice, tone, mannerisms, enthusiasm, positive energy; and 7% is what you say, the words that you use.
It is possible to “read” a person’s body language during project meetings, performance evaluation sessions, job interviews, and mediations, as well during general ‘chit-chat’ and during casual discussions, for example during lunch. Understanding body language helps prevent snap judgments of people. Body language can be positive or negative.
For example, rapid blinking may indicate that a person is exaggerating, tense or very alert, lying, or feels uncomfortable with what he is saying; an overly friendly handshake may mean he wants something from you, or, a damp palm may be a sign of nervousness; finger drumming indicates impatience, and wringing the hands indicates severe strain.
By reading body language and expressions, we can often determine how a person is behaving. When I coach clients to prepare for interviews, for example, I also look at their body language – how they sit, stand, eye contact, folded arms, and mirroring (if they mirror the interviewer by sitting forward when the interviewer sits forward; or if they sit back when the interviewer sits back).
One of my clients refused to sit during interviews, she was more comfortable standing. Unfortunately, that body language stance prevented her from receiving job offers, as the interviewers told her that she was intimidating. I coached her to sit comfortably in the chair and relax her folded arm posture.
One of the best ways to identify body language is to video tape interview preparation, in person and via a Skype or Facetime platform, to identify any negative body language cues that may be caught on the recording. Then, work on reversing any negative body language image issues and focus on enhancing the positive body language postures.