How Improving Your Body Language Can Advance Your Career
Freeze where you are – take a second to look at yourself and evaluate your body language. What is your posture saying about you? Do you come across powerful and confident, sitting tall with your feet flat on the ground? Or do you seem timid, with your shoulders hunched or arms crossed?
We have all heard the phrase, actions speak louder than words – and that statement could not be more accurate. According to Darlene Price, author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results, “Nonverbal communication has been shown to carry between 65% and 93% more impact than the actual words spoken.”
There is tremendous importance for efficient nonverbal behavior within the business world. The way others perceive you in a job interview or business meeting is established through the appropriate combination of body language and verbal communication.
The following tips will help you perfect your nonverbal behavior, enabling you to make a great impression. The more you practice improving these skills, the more naturally they will come and the more effective they will be.
Practice Your Power Pose
Not only do our nonverbal behaviors impact how others think of us, they also dictate how we feel about ourselves. According to the research of Amy Cuddy, professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, striking a power pose for just two minutes before any high-stress situation produces a greater sense of power and dominance.
Engaging in a power pose is about increasing the amount of space you take up. Open up – when you widen your stance and broaden your posture, you are likely to increase levels of testosterone, a chemical associated with dominance, and decrease levels of cortisone, a chemical associated with stress. Practicing this sort of pose before you walk into your next interview will give you the confidence you need to land the job.
Talk to the Hand
Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, writer for Forbes.com, suggests, “If you hold your arms at waist level, and gesture within that plane, most audiences will perceive you as assured and credible.” When these gestures accurately reflect what is being said, it will help listeners understand the full meaning of the message. Otherwise, if the gestures are contradictory, credibility will likely be lost.
There is a part of our brain, the Broca area, which is responsible for producing language. Dr. Goman explains that this area of our brain is stimulated when we motion our hands, which allows us to speak more fluently. With this being said, it is important not to let hand gestures affect you negatively. Avoid fidgety movements, such as foot tapping or head scratching, which would serve as a distraction from what you’re saying.
Maintain Eye Contact and Natural Expressions
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Maintaining eye contact shows people that you are honest and open; this should come instinctively if you are focusing on what the other person is saying. People who tend to avoid eye contact are portrayed as guilty and lose credibility. However, you do not want to force eye contact for too long. According to a study done at Oxford University, holding a gaze for over 10 seconds can trigger discomfort for those involved. Likewise, it is important to maintain genuine facial expressions. Allow your face to relax and be natural as you let your expression reflect the message you are sending.
Just as with body language, the tone and rate of your speech should complement what you are saying. According to Dr. Goman, people speaking in a low voice tend to seem empathetic and powerful, while those who speak in a high-pitched tone come off as nervous. Reducing the use of verbal fillers is another way to improve the effectiveness of your communication. Words such as “um” and “like” take away from the value of the message and, if used too often, can be frustrating to the listener. Always remember, slowing down is okay. It is better to pause and take a moment to gather your thoughts than to ramble.
Put a Smile on Your Face
Say “Cheese!” Although this may seem like a simple function, many times people forget to smile when they’re in high-stress situations. Smiling not only establishes you as approachable and trustworthy to others, but it also fosters a sense of comfort within yourself. Another perk of smiling is the release of endorphins. Endorphins are a type of hormone that allow your stress to decrease and happiness to increase.
Research from Duke University found that people are more likely to remember those who smile. So the next time you are wrapping up an interview, be sure to throw on your million dollar smile so you have a better chance of being remembered among the sea of candidates.
Now freeze! Take another look at your body language and reevaluate it. Has it improved as you read through these tips? If it has, that’s great! Being aware of your body and adjusting it as needed is a crucial component in using your body language effectively. If not, that’s okay! Here is one more piece of advice that may help you – from the words of Amy Cuddy, “Fake it ‘till you become it.” Take the time to practice these skills and in time, they will come naturally.
Are you eager to apply your new body language skills during a job interview? Your next opportunity might be waiting for you at Staff Management | SMX!
If you are interested in joining a friendly team with great coworkers you should check out the opportunities at Staff Management | SMX. We are building our talented team to keep pace with our strong business growth. Our culture enables our hardworking employees to be engaged, valued and enabled to reach their full potential. So, if you are serious about providing exceptional service and want to be part of a winning team, we want to talk to you!
We have great opportunities at our home office in Chicago and across the country supporting our world-class clients. So, check out our career opportunities to learn more about being a part of the Staff Management | SMX team where you can make a real impact on our success.