Have you ever been at a function, be it with a dozen or many, many more, and you’ve done one of those brain-dead things … you’ve forgotten the name of someone you were just been introduced to?You painstakingly try to remember the guy’s name, hoping that someone will come along and call him by his name and bail you out. You hesitate to ask again, truth-be-told, you don’t want him to think that you weren’t listening when you were initially introduced. No one comes to your rescue.
What gives? Are you brain-dead. You can recall the tie, the color, even the knot, just no name. Are you displaying early signs of dementia setting in?
Nope, in fact, you are normal. Most people size up someone in that first meeting based on the visual take—body language, facial, hand and feet gestures/positioning, what colors, clothing and accessories are worn—you name it, anything that the eye can take in registers on the imprint scale. The simple fact is that you just didn’t hear the name; you had other things on your mind.
The media spends a lot of time covering politics. In the 60s, John F. Kennedy debated Richard Nixon in the first televised presidential debate. If you watched on TV, Kennedy won; if you listened on the radio, Nixon won.
The deal breaker—it was the 5 o’clock shadow that the camera, along with no makeup—displayed to the viewing public. They didn’t like it.
When it comes to the first impression, the eyes have it.
What’s important to you is to know and understand that your body language and how you visually present yourself could be a deal breaker. Today’s best leaders and communicators know that a commanding visual presence says competence and confidence.
One of the outrageous masters of communication was entertainer Victor Borge. His reading of a text, any text, couple with his sound effects for every dot, comma, colon; semi-colon, question and exclamation marks, and quotes were hilarious. It was also dead on.
He added his facial expressions and used his hands to add to the shapes of the various marks. No one forgot his performance. The viewer/audience was thoroughly entertained and remembered what he was reading to boot.
So it goes with your own interviews and performance evaluations. Not that you have to do a Victor Borge, but it’s career smart to understand the language of non-verbal communication.
Let’s start with some of the Don’ts:
§ Don’t put your hands in your pockets or keep them “stuck” by your side … it may be read that you are insecure;
§ Don’t slouch in a chair … it says that you are not interested, even lazy;
§ Don’t slump when you stand … it can be read that you aren’t paying attention or don’t care;
§ Don’t wear just anything … if it’s a wrong fit, style, color, it says you didn’t take the time to prepare;
§ Don’t wear colors that dull your skin tones … the wrong color can actually make you look sick;
§ Don’t break eye contact … when you break away, it can feign a non-interest;
The Do List is critical:
§ Do lean forward if sitting … it shows some interest and enthusiasm;
§ Do pay attention to your hands and nails… are the clean, manicured—hands speak volumes;
§ Do be animated … use your hands and your face expressions to accent key points;
§ Do pay attention to your arms and legs … if they are uncrossed, it says that “I’m not blocking you out…”;
Do keep eye contact … it says I’m listening and connecting;
§ Do wear colors and styles that are flattering … this goes for women and men alike;
§ Do communicate, in writing, after the interview … a hand-written thank you note for the interview is just smart and can put you on the short list for follow-up.
Masters of communication know that a job interview or evaluation can be made before one word is spoken. It’s happens with what you physically present yourself as, along with what comes out of your mouth and how you bring the two together.
Any signs of insincerity, disinterest or disrespect will get you out the door as quickly as a blatant overture that you don’t give a twit.
By paying attention to what others see, you will discover that they will pay attention to the words you use and say.
Your body language says more about you that thousands of words. You want to be seen as an informed, responsible and savvy person. Are you?